Savvy Money Management for Busy Women: Today’s Topic: Embracing a Budget
Ladies, it’s your turn today. Because as women, we’re so busy thinking of everyone else, we often neglect to do the things most beneficial for ourselves. Even taking time to read this blog means you’re saying “no” to someone or something else. Good. It means for once, you’re saying “yes” to YOU!
Here’s some statistics that might interest you. Studies show that:
85% of consumer decisions are made by women
90% of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point during their lifetime
31% of households are headed by women breadwinners
As our demographics shift, it’s more important than ever for women to harness the skills necessary to budget, save, steward, spend and invest money. I know you’re busy – so take one step at a time, and make what I call “small wins,” one step at a time. You won’t regret it!
Scores of women have told me they feel unprepared – even afraid – with regard to money management. Often, we defer to our spouses to make decisions about money – even powerful career women with corner offices. Case in point:
Just a couple years ago at my Birthday party, I asked each of the ladies at the table this question, “How many of you sign your tax returns without even knowing what’s in them?” Their answers shocked me. All but one of these jet setters (literally) signed her return without knowing and understanding the details. Ouch!
The truth is – we never, ever know what’s in store. Are you prepared if your husband died suddenly? Would you know how much money was at your immediate disposal and where to find the rest? Will the funds at your disposal secure your future – or are you prepared to earn more?
Because this topic is such an essential one, I’m going to write a series of blog posts over the coming months to walk you through 5 concepts of money management, including creating a budget, understanding and managing credit, saving, investing, and preparing for death and divorce.
Empowering yourself with information before an emergency is the first step in achieving the savvy money management skills essential for every woman, especially if you’re raising a family. (And while you’re learning – teach your kids!)
First things First: Create a Budget
Creating a budget is essential because it’s a proactive step to understanding just how much disposable income you have to spend, aside from fixed expenses, savings and investments. Creating a budget – and sticking to it – reduces stress, curbs impulse purchases, and holds your feet to the fire. The hardest part is getting started. Dig in!
Minutes to a Mastering Basic Budget Skills (Well, almost…)
Get an online form. The web’s got scores of budget templates you can find online. Your software packages may even include one, so take a look. (I’ll give a plug for one that anyone can use created by our friends at National Bank of Arizona)
Determine your disposable income. You need to determine exactly how much money you have each month to spend. Some people find spending on a cash-only basis discourages excess debit usage. Try withdrawing cash twice each month based the amount you have to spend after fixed expenses, savings and investments. You’d be surprised how using cash affects your spending choices! If you spend faster with cash in your wallet, then stick with the debit card.
Spend time with your budget every month. Maybe it’s “Money Mondays” or “Thrifty Thursdays” – but make friends with your budget. Take a look at your spending each week. Keep your goals in mind. What are you working toward? What incentivizes you? Picture it. Reward yourself for your progress. (But not with more spending!)
When you take a little time to analyze what you bring home after expenses, savings and investments, make a commitment to live within your means, or work to earn more. Taking just one proactive step such as creating a monthly budget boosts your confidence – and your savvy money management chops!
Today’s Savvy Money Management Tip: Take a look at your spending when it comes to convenience. If you often find yourself at drive-thrus for lunch, make a commitment to make up a couple of fabulous salads to keep in the fridge…and instead of fast-food restaurants…drive-through your kitchen at least twice each week. It will be easier on your wallet…and your waistline! Remember, “small wins,” over time, translate to sizeable savings!
Bio: Sharon Lechter is an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, educator, international speaker, licensed CPA and mother. She has been a pioneer in developing new technologies, programs and products to bring education into children's lives in ways that are innovative, challenging and fun, and remains committed to education particularly financial literacy. Co-author of the bestselling book, Think and Grow Rich-Three Feet From Gold with the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Rich Dad Poor Dad and 14 other books in the Rich Dad series, Lechter's most recent book project is Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill- a manuscript hidden for over 70 years- annotated and updated by Lechter for the modern reader.
She is the founder of Pay Your Family First, a company dedicated to empowering children and families to build prosperous futures through financial literacy education. With innovative, thoughtful and easy-to-understand programs and products, such as the ThriveTime for Teens board game and YOUTHpreneur entrepreneurial programs, Pay Your Family First teaches the practical skills that will give a new generation the self-assurance to become masters, instead of slaves, to their money.
Sharon served as a member of the first Presidents Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, a national spokesperson for the National CPAs Commission on Financial Literacy, and an instructor for Thunderbird School of Global Managements Project Artemis.
She is also a member of the National boards of Childhelp, Women Presidents Organization, and EmpowHer. For more information visit http://www.payyourfamilyfirst.com