By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
With Thanksgiving Day behind us and the holiday season upon us, I thought this would be a good time to write about how to spend with intention. Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful day for me to think about what I’m grateful for in my life… when I spend time thinking about what I’m grateful for, I feel really good. And for me, that is the first step on how to spend with intention. If I am grateful for what I have, then I want less, and if I want less, I can focus on spending my money on what is truly important to me.
Since this is a great time to reflect on the past year, I encourage you to think about your spending this year. Have you spent money with intention? Did you get value from what you purchased? Did your purchases make you feel good? We live in a consumer-driven economy, which, unfortunately, means that family is being pushed aside in favor of consumerism (as evidenced by stores being open on Thanksgiving Day). It’s easy to get caught up in spending money, but when you spend with intention then you’re getting the most out of your money.
So how do I spend with intention? By looking at my spending in three different ways…
Focus on Value. To spend with intention, my focus is on value… where do we get the most value when we spend money? That is a very personal question with a multitude of answers for every one of us. First, we need to determine where our money is being spent, and then assess if it is being spent wisely. During this past year my wife and I spent more at Amazon than we should have (free two-day shipping makes it too easy!), so we asked ourselves if we were getting real value out of our Amazon purchases and realized the answer to that question was no. So, we decided to scale back in the new year because we don’t want to have a bunch of unnecessary stuff. On the other hand, we spent some money this year to buy brand new carpet because our previous carpet was old and dirty, and that purchase has made a positive impact on our lives every single day… we now feel comfortable rolling around on our carpet with our daughter. We got a lot of value from that purchase. Another area where we receive tremendous value is our monthly massages… we love spending money on that experience! Actually, it has been found that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent (Forbes: The Secret to Happiness? Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things).
Here’s a trick: when you determine something is valuable to you, use that as a measurement against other purchases. For example, one client had a housekeeping service that cost $100/month, and they received tremendous value from that service. Their house was clean and they felt it gave them more time to spend with their kids on the weekends. Then we looked at their storage facility rental which also cost about $100/month. Did they get the same joy from storing their stuff at an offsite facility? For them, the answer was no. They rarely accessed their stuff at the storage facility, and they hadn’t considered that $100/month should be bringing them joy because it was a recurring expense, which brings me to…
Automatic Spending. An area where it is easy to spend without intention is on our recurring expenses, so my wife and I take a look at those every year. There are so many items that could be on this list, but examples include:
- Cable television
- Cell phone
- Gym memberships
- Storage facilities
- Cloud services
- Music services
- Amazon Prime
Take a hard look at all your recurring expenses to determine if you can either cut them out completely if you aren’t receiving much or any value from them or find a way to reduce the recurring charge. It is so easy to sign up for all of these different services that we often forget about them and then we end up doing the opposite of The Automatic Millionaire… we become The Automatic Spender! Recurring charges aren’t the only area of our spending where we sometimes spend without intention, we can also do this in everyday life were habits are well ingrained, such as a daily Starbucks visit, eating out for lunch every day, buying a soda with every meal, and grocery shopping choices. Spending with intention is the sum of many small decisions that can add up to big money savings over time!
Time Value. Another way to look at how to spend with intention is to look at it through the lens of time. What I mean by that is how much time is your spending costing you? Benjamin Franklin said Time is Money, but I believe that our time is more valuable than money. Time is a commodity that we all have the same of (we all have 24 hours in a day) whether we are rich or poor, which is why I think it is more valuable than money. When I look at spending through the lens of time, then I start to look at things differently. If I have to wait in line for 10 hours to save $50 on a Black Friday deal, was that really worth it for me? The answer to that will help me be more intentional about how I spend my money. If I spend time shopping, but then spend an equal amount returning half the items (thus doubling the amount of shopping time), then was that a valuable use of my limited time? If I have to work 15 hours every month to earn enough to make that monthly payment on that shiny new car I want, is that time commitment worth it? Looking at my spending as a function of time helps brings things into focus for me. Along the same lines, buying time can be another area where money can be spent with intention… whether it is having someone clean the house, having a babysitter watch the kids to give you some much needed R&R or even hiring someone on Fiverr to complete a difficult task for you. Sometimes, it’s worth it to spend the money to have the time.
Ultimately, what we spend our money on should be a reflection of what is most important to us. When we spend with intention, we show others, but more importantly ourselves, what really matters to us. And when we are able to focus on what really matters to us, then I believe our lives become much freer and fuller… and that is something to be grateful for.
How do you spend with intention? Please let us know in the comments section below! Or if you know somebody who wants guidance on how to spend with intention, have them contact us so we can show them how. Happy Holidays!
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Jeannie Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Daniel and I met in 2011. We knew right away that our relationship was special, so it might not surprise you to learn that we started talking about some pretty serious stuff early on: kids, marriage, and, especially, money (he is Dr. Budgets, after all!). Before too long, Daniel had looked at where I was spending my money and made some suggestions to pay down the debt I had been struggling to eliminate. Dr. Budgets was founded about 1½ years after we met*, and so that makes me Dr. Budgets’ first client! As the “OG” client of “Dr. B,” I have some insights to share 🙂
Dr. Budgets has had many success stories… Clients have done amazing things! But, after you accomplish your financial goal, what comes next? Can anything top the feeling of paying off the debt that has been weighing on your shoulders? The answer is YES! What comes after paying off your debt is EVEN BETTER. If you stick with your spending plan, the accomplishments that follow continue to add to your overall sense of well-being. Maybe what I’m trying to describe is best said in a previous blog post:
“I soon realized I wasn’t worried about money at all. I never need to worry because we have automatic payments and buffers, and anything I need or want to buy is accounted for in the budget.”
Can you imagine that? Not having to worry about money? Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing. It took some work to get here though. First, I had to learn to live without my credit cards to pay off debt. Then, I had to learn to spend within my (and, eventually, our) spending plan. I also made some lifestyle changes to pay off my debt even faster, including renting out a room and getting a side gig to earn money on the weekends (but I was able to let go of both of those after I paid off my debt).
Now that I’m on the other side of debt and well into my “coaching” with Dr. Budgets, I can say my feelings about money have never been better. For example:
- I love my job, and I continue to love to work after having our daughter. But it’s nice to know that I don’t have to work at my job if I didn’t want to work anymore. I’m not a slave to my job, and I think that makes me love my job even more! Life is too short to hate what you do.
- I love our home, but it’s not our forever home. We’re working toward buying our dream house – not just a “it’s bigger than what we currently have and we need the space so we’ll take it” house. We’ve talked about amenities and location, and it’s within reach. I can actually see our daughter happily playing in the backyard of our future home. Paying off debt felt good, but debt is the past… Now, we’re working toward our future.
- We live in uncertain times and sometimes I’m nervous about the future. When I was in debt, I was VERY nervous about the future because I was one emergency away (car breaking down, a trip to the ER, losing my job) from being in a financial crisis. When I paid off my debt, I was able to create a financial safety net. Having savings gives me a sense of security.
Those are just a couple of examples of how life is better after paying off debt. But, besides these incredible side effects, what comes next after paying off debt? Here are some ideas, from Daniel:
Evaluate your spending plan. You’ve likely had a line item for debt repayment that can be re-directed. Determine how much of that you want to go into savings and other items in your budget. Maybe you want to give yourself a little breathing room in discretionary spending, or maybe you’ve become very comfortable with your spending plan and can put that money entirely toward your next financial goal.
Celebrate! You’ve accomplished something remarkable! Take a moment to acknowledge your sacrifices and reflect on your achievement. Set a budget and treat yourself to something to celebrate… you deserve it!
Create or Increase Emergency Savings. If you were able to put money toward emergency savings while paying down debt, that’s great! Maybe beef it up a bit to cover a longer stretch of time (6 months instead of 3 months, for example). If not, creating an “emergency savings” or “short-term savings” account should be your first priority.
Set your next financial goal. Get excited about your next financial milestone! Do you want to take a debt-free vacation? Save for a house or buy a new car?
If you’re working toward a financial goal, such as paying off debt, good for you! Keep it up! If you aren’t (but know you should), you may not have realized all the wonderful things that come along with achieving your financial goals… hopefully, this will help motivate you to get started! As always, if you want help please contact Daniel for a complimentary consultation – you have nothing to lose!
*Fun fact: I came up with the name Dr. Budgets… It’s a play on Daniel’s initials “DR”
- Published in Debt
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Being in the honeymoon stage after getting married is an exciting time! You’ve just committed to your partner and are starting your lives together. This new life together might mean moving in together, figuring out how to pay for your wedding debt, taking on new joint expenses, or preparing for some big expenses in the near future (buying a house, having a baby, etc.). This may lead to some stress around money. I enjoy working with lots of couples, so I thought I would share these 5 things you must do after getting married to help ease the stress of mixing marriage with money:
1) Combine to Save. Marriage has several financial advantages, especially when combining certain expenses. One big one that I have seen with clients (and in my own life!) is health insurance. If the person you are marrying works for a company with a great health insurance plan, then you could save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year. After you get married, make sure your spouse adds you to their health insurance plan so you can reap those benefits. Often, there is a short window (30 days) to do this, so make it a priority after getting back from your honeymoon. Another area where you can save is auto and home/renter’s insurance. There is often significant monthly savings when you are both on the same auto insurance policy. And while you are at it, you can bundle your auto and home/renter’s insurance policy to save even more! Talk to your insurance professional after you get married (or even before if you live together before marriage) to determine if you can save some money on your insurance. There are many other areas where you could combine to save, for example, combining your cell phone plans, Netflix accounts, Costco memberships, or Amazon Prime memberships, so take a look at your particular situation to eliminate any overlap you have in your expenses.
2) Plan to Pay Off Debt. A survey of 1,010 randomly sampled newlywed couples found that entering marriage with consumer debt has a negative impact on newlywed levels of marital quality. The study also found that the large majority (70%) of newlyweds in this study brought debt into their marriage relationship. So, does this mean you should wait until you have no consumer debt to get married? Of course not! But you should come up with a plan to pay off that debt together as soon as you get married. And once you have that plan, stick to it! I have seen the huge impact that debt has on couples and their relationship, and I’ll tell you this: the couples who pay off their consumer debt seem happier. So, come up with a debt repayment plan together after you get married, and then say goodbye to consumer debt for good!
3) Merge Your Finances. There is no right or wrong answer on whether to merge your finances after marriage or not – every couple is different (for more on this topic, read Merging Your Finances After Marriage). The key is to have an open and honest conversation about money and your financial goals so that you can then work together to achieve those goals. When it comes to merging finances, I usually suggest using a joint account as the central account for a couple, which means all the income flows into that account and then common expenses are paid out of that account (mortgage/rent, utilities, auto expenses, groceries, insurance, etc.). But also…
4) Separate Your Finances. So, once you have a joint account as the central account for income and expenses, then I like to create separate accounts for each person which gets funded every week, two weeks, month (whatever works best for the couple) with their allocated “allowance” that they can spend on whatever they want. This allows each person to have some “fun” money without having to consult with the other person. In my marriage, we do this, and it is nice to be able to buy a gift for my wife from my personal account… it feels more like a gift from me when I’m using my “own money” for that. Here, again, you should have open and honest communication about what is a fair amount for each person to receive as their “allowance.” In my household, my wife gets more every week than I do, but we both agreed on that amount. Side note: if you own a business, be sure to keep a separate “business” account for all your business income and expenses, and then transfer your “salary” to your joint account (more on that here: 4 Money Tips for Small Business Owners).
5) Start a Joint FUNd. Once you have done the first four things you must do after getting married, hopefully, you have some money left over for fun! I like the idea of a FUN Fund (or FUNd for short) as a short-term savings account for joint experiences. Research has found that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent. Use this account to save for joint experiences, special occasions, stay-cations, travel, etc. When you spend this money on yourselves, you can spend it “guilt-free” because you know this money is for FUN!
Getting married is such a joyful occasion, and hopefully following the 5 things you must do after getting married in this post will help continue that happiness deep into your marriage. If you know a couple who is about to get married or just got married and wants a personalized plan on how to do any of this, please have them contact us to schedule a consultation. These are my five financial tips for newlyweds. Do you have some other ones? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Published in Love and Marriage
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Life is short. Recently, I have been in a reflective mood because that has become very apparent to me. I started thinking about my life and whether I was living it the way I truly intended. The Dr. Budgets tagline is Spend Wisely. Live Wealthy.™, so I started thinking about it in terms of spending my time wisely to live wealthy because time is finite, and you can run out of it at any moment. Dr. Budgets takes a lot of my time, and I asked myself “Is it time well spent? Why am I doing this?” After much reflection, it turns out that I have a true passion for what I do, so I dug a little deeper to figure out why. Why am I so passionate about what we do at Dr. Budgets? I could help people in a variety of ways, so why money coaching?
The story of why I am so passionate about what I do for others through Dr. Budgets starts with why I do it for myself. My parents were divorced when I was very young, so I never knew anything different than having divorced parents. From the time I started school, I would be with one parent during the week and the other during the weekends, and every so often it would switch, which meant I would then switch schools (1st grade with my dad, 2nd-4th grade with my mom, etc.). When I was 12 and heading into 7th grade, my dad ran into hard financial times… his business failed, so money became very tight. My mom wasn’t making very much either, but she made it work while she was attending school at UCSD. To make ends meet, my dad decided to move to Rosarito, Mexico, which meant that for 7th grade I was going to switch schools again, but now to a different country. We also moved to a very poor part of town, so the house we lived in had no hot water (bathing in the winter was torture), broken windows, and was bug infested. Luckily, we always had food, but sometimes it was rice, beans, and tortillas several days in a row. This transition was very hard for me as a 12-year-old boy, and I would look forward to going to my mom’s house on the weekends… a house with first world amenities, like hot showers! After I finished 7th grade, my dad moved to Tijuana, Mexico where I attended 8th and 9th grades. The place in Tijuana was in an even poorer neighborhood (we now lived in an RV on somebody else’s property and used an outhouse). Those were the hardest three years of my life, and I believe those years shaped the view I have of money and the world to this day.
I realized that the reason I choose to spend my money wisely is so that I never end up in the same financial predicament as my dad. Being free of debt and having money in the bank gives me comfort and the freedom to live how I choose to live, and it means that I (or my kids) never have to live the way I did for those three years. I carry that same passion for finances to my clients because I want them to have the freedom to choose how they want to live, and to never have to face the type of decision my dad had to make. I see so many people who are slaves to their jobs because they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. I want to change this so that they feel like they have a choice to be whom they want to be and do what they want to do.
Life is too short to live otherwise, so that is why I started Dr. Budgets.
That is why every person who transforms their habits because of the money coaching they receive equals a better life for them, and maybe also for their children. Which means their children will never go through what I went through.
So that is why I do what I do. Why do you do what you do? I would love to hear your story. Please share it with me in the comments section below! If you know someone who is ready to improve their spending habits, please have them contact us today. Thanks for reading!
- Published in Health and Wealth
By Daniel Rodriguez (Dr. Budgets) & Scott Elliott (Kool Body Personal Training)
This month we are doing a joint blog post with Scott Elliott with Kool Body Personal Training. We are each sharing our perspective on 5 Ways Healthy Habits Save You Money from a health and wealth standpoint. Here are the five habits:
Eat Your Breakfast
Scott: Most of us are in such a rush to get out the door and to the office, that we often neglect breakfast. Instead of eating breakfast, we opt for coffee and perhaps add a carb to that. Eating breakfast will bring you a sustained boost of mental and physical energy. Skipping breakfast leads to adrenal crash; which we then artificially support with caffeine. The saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has a lot of truth to it. As you sleep, the cortisol hormone increases, which put us into REM (deep) sleep. When we wake up, the cortisol levels continue to rise and will eventually begin to put stress onto our adrenals. The only way to level out this increase in cortisol levels is to eat a balanced breakfast. This simple act will increase our mental and physical energy throughout the morning, with no mental crash.
Daniel: Breakfast in the morning can be something as simple and inexpensive as eggs and whole grain toast, yogurt with granola, or a smoothie (my wife makes amazing smoothies in the morning!). This daily “breakfast ritual” can save you thousands of dollars over time compared to stopping at Starbucks for “coffee and a carb.” If you still need the caffeine fix, you could brew your own coffee at home (which is often better than Starbucks anyway) and enjoy it on your way to work.
Schedule Your Workouts
Scott: Studies show that regular exercise will help reduce the number of sick days you take by stimulating and strengthening your immune system. Regular exercise also reduces the risk of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. The quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail” by Alan Lakein, highlights the importance of scheduling your workouts. Once scheduled, make sure they are a priority, like meetings for work. Make your workout time a non-negotiable appointment on your calendar.
Daniel: Consistent exercise will actually make you money because of the fewer sick days you will need to take. Depending on where you work, you could then use those unused sick days for something fun like a vacation or cash them out at some point. If you are self-employed, then that means less time away from your business, which means more money. Looking at it from a long-term perspective, if regular exercise prevents diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease for you, then that will save you thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars in medical bills. Additionally, a monthly gym membership is only a waste of money if you don’t use it! If you schedule your workouts, whether at the gym or with a personal trainer, you’re making the most of the money you’re spending for those services.
Scott: Daily meditation will calm our brain, bring inner peace, and therefore, more focus and productivity to your job. Due dates, unexpected problems, or even mental fog all strip away the clarity and focus that we need to succeed in our daily tasks. Set aside 5 minutes each day to sit upright, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Each time your thoughts drift, bring yourself back to your breath, training your mind in the art of self-control, focus, and peace.
Daniel: Consistent meditation can lead to reduced stress, which can save you money in countless ways. If stress leads you to overeat, then meditation can save you money on food expenses. If stress leads you to shop to make yourself feel better, then meditation can save you money by preventing you from buying unnecessary things. If stress causes you to drive fast which leads to a speeding ticket… you get the point 🙂
Scott: According to a 2014 Stanford Study, you can boost your creativity up to 60% by adding short bursts of activity throughout the day. Step away from the computer for a minimum of 3 minutes at a time and walk up a flight of stairs or take a walk outside. In addition, you will curb your levels of anxiety and depression allowing you to handle stress much better; stimulating your mood so you can get along with your co-workers and boss much easier.
Daniel: An increase in creativity can definitely make you money in the long-run. If you work for somebody, that could mean a faster promotion or a pay raise sooner. If you work for yourself, then an increase in creativity can lead to increased income ever more rapidly if you apply it in a way that makes you better or more efficient at what you do.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Motivated Fitness People
Scott: Working out with someone (or a group of people) will not only increase your level of accountability, but there is also a strong possibility of making new business connections, as you sweat it out with like-minded fitness people. You are all there putting in a strong effort to stay healthy, which will lead to a mutual level of respect for one another. Those are definitely people worth getting to know.
Daniel: Anytime you connect with like-minded people there is a good chance you will each benefit from that relationship. If you own a business, maybe one of those people becomes a client, which would lead to more revenue for your business. If you are an employee, maybe one of those people connects you to a job opportunity when you need it. Connecting with people who share similar goals and interests with you can lead to many rewards beyond money as well.
We hope you enjoyed our post on 5 Ways Healthy Habits Save You Money! If you want to learn more about Kool Body Personal Training, you can contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to learn more about Dr. Budgets, visit our home page or contact us.
- Published in Health and Wealth
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
It can be easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday season… going into credit card debt of course! Kidding aside, it is very easy to overspend during the holidays because we are in a generous mood, and it seems like every company in the world is trying to get us to spend our hard earned money. This is probably why 37% of people said that going into debt is one of the top 5 causes of holiday stress. It doesn’t have to be a stressful time if you put some thought into it ahead of time and set some parameters for yourself. Below are four things you can do to give wisely this holiday season.
Make a List. It’s amazing how powerful it is to make a list before you go gift shopping for the holidays. I recommend you make a list that includes everyone you are buying a gift for and the amount you plan to spend per person, then add it up. If the total amount is too much, then make some adjustments before you start buying presents.
Don’t Use Your Credit Card. If you only use cash or your debit card this holiday season, then it will be very difficult for you to get into credit card debt. Think about it… do you really need to go into debt to buy things for the loved ones in your life? Is there a way for you to be more thoughtful about your giving and at the same time spend less? The people who truly love you probably don’t want you to be stressed out about your credit card debt.
Give What They Want. Give to the loved ones in your life how they want to be given to. You have to know your audience when you are giving. For example, my wife and I took the Love Languages test and ranked “Receiving Gifts” very low, so showering each other with gifts isn’t the best way to express our love for each other. Instead, we are able to show each other we care in more meaningful and affordable ways. Be very mindful of how to express your love and appreciation to the people in your life… sometimes you don’t need to spend a lot of money for them to know you care.
Charitable Giving. If you are giving money to charity, ensure that most of the money you are donating actually goes toward the cause they are supporting (this article can help you). Also, if you can donate and receive a tax deduction as well, even better! My wife and I give the things we don’t need to Goodwill, which gives us a nice little tax deduction every year. Lastly, check to see if you can get your monetary donation matched to double your contribution (sometimes companies have programs where they do this).
These are just a few tips on how to give wisely this holiday season. If you have some other tips, please share them with us in the comments section below. If you know somebody who went into credit card debt because of their holiday spending, and now needs some direction on how to pay it off, put them in touch with us. Happy holidays!
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Jennifer Rosson for Dr. Budgets
This month we are excited to have Jennifer Rosson as a guest blogger for Dr. Budgets sharing her tips on shopping smart! She is a true expert on shopping. To learn more about Jennifer, check her out at styleyourlifeblog.com. Here are her five ways to save money on your wardrobe…
1) Take a good look at your closet before you shop!
Most people tend to purchase the same type of items again and again… I call this your “uniform”. Because of this, your wardrobe isn’t as adaptable as it should be. What items could you add to grow your wardrobe and make it more versatile? Make a list of these items and look for them when shopping.
2) Think about your Cost Per Wear.
Keep this very simple formula in mind when shopping!
You take the cost of the item and divide it by the number of times it is worn, adding in any maintenance cost (dry cleaning, laundering tailoring).
- Dress on clearance $19.99
- Wore it once (1)
- Dry-cleaned ($5)
- $19.99/1+$5= $24.99
Cost per wear = $24.99
- Designer Jeans $189
- Wear it once a week for 12 months, 52 wears
- washed every other wear $1.00
- $189/52 +$.50 = $4.13
Cost per wear = $4.13
So sometimes those “deals” aren’t really deals at all. Think about this next time you are shopping 🙂
3) Consider shopping consignment.
I love consignment shopping. Find a credible consignment store that carries higher end items. This is a great way to pay up to 70% less on designer and contemporary brands. Closely check for any flaws, fading, etc. because these stores often have a final sale policy.
Two I recommend: The Real Real (online) and My Sisters Closet (San Diego)
4) Shop sale sections.
Okay before you say yes, of course, that’s obvious….
Let me clarify. Shop sale sections at high-end stores and shop with your list (from #1). Many people shop sale sections; the difference is shopping them with direction.
Shop sale sections in stores a level above where you’d typically shop. Why? Because you can get higher quality pieces for the same price you typically pay. Let’s say you typically shop at Banana Republic and you are willing to pay $150 for a dress. Well then head on over to Bloomingdale’s sale section and I assure you will find a higher quality dress for around the same price.
The second thing to keep in mind when shopping sale….
USE YOUR LIST!!! It is not a bargain if you don’t need it!!
Remember cost per wear?
5) Don’t shop out of desperation.
We’ve all been there, you have an interview or event and you have nothing to wear. You rush out the day before and purchase something to get you by. You settle because you couldn’t find something you loved. The result: you don’t feel fabulous at your event because you don’t love your outfit and you will probably never wear it again.
How to you avoid this happening to you? You know your lifestyle, you know what types of events, presentations, and interviews you have in a typical year. When you see a piece of clothing you love and you know you’ll have an occasion to wear it, buy it then! Don’t wait till you have the specific event. The event will come believe me and you’ll already have the perfect piece hanging in your closet!
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Many people probably find it overwhelming to bring some structure and planning to their personal spending. This is probably why only one in three Americans prepare a detailed household budget. This, in turn, is one of the reasons why people are still in debt. If you are a business owner, then this adds another layer of complexity, which is probably why so many small business owners are flying off the seat of their pants when it comes to their finances. When I work with small business owners at Dr. Budgets, there are four things I recommend they do when it comes to organizing their personal and business finances…
1) Separate Personal & Business. Keeping your personal and business finances separate is a critical first step. This starts with simply having a separate checking account for your business, and then using it exclusively for business. If you use a credit card for the business, then having a credit card dedicated exclusively for business expenses is a must (whether it is a business card or a personal card you only use for business). Also, even if you have a very simple business, you want to have both a personal AND business budget.
2) Track Your Spending. You want to track your business expenses using some sort of software. If you have a simple business without much activity, then you can probably get away with using a spreadsheet. As your business grows, consider using bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks. This is so important that clients of Dr. Budgets who are small business owners receive bookkeeping in QuickBooks as part of their coaching package. Also, track your personal expenses. If you have a record of those expenses available, your tax accountant may find that some of those expenses on the personal side can be written off on the business side.
3) Pay Yourself a Salary. Many people who own a small business don’t have a plan on how to pay themselves. As money comes into the business, that money usually is spent on both business and personal expenses. It is important to create some stability in your personal spending by paying yourself a consistent salary (as if you were working a job). Set a reasonable salary that will balance your personal budget, while ensuring that you don’t take too much money from the business. A fine balance has to be stuck here because if you pay yourself too much, your business runs out of money, but if you don’t pay yourself enough then you run out of money on the personal side. I spend a lot of time with my small business owner clients to come up with a salary figure that strikes that balance.
4) Save for Taxes. Many small business owners (especially new business owners) tend to forget to save for taxes. When you are an employee, it’s easy because taxes are taken out of your paycheck before you can spend the money. As a small business owner, you have to put some money away to prepare for the inevitable tax bill. If this habit is built at the very beginning, then it just becomes another “bill” that the business needs to pay every month (by transferring money to your business savings). Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t do this, and then when the inevitable tax bill arrives, they are shocked. Not saving enough money to pay your taxes is an easy way to get into debt as a small business owner, so you must plan for this by setting aside some of your business income every month.
Being a small business owner is a challenge even without factoring in the financial side of things. Doing the four items above can help mitigate some of the stress associated with running a small business. If you know a small business owner who prefers to have an expert look at their spending on the personal and business side, please have them contact us to schedule a consultation. These are only four tips for business owners. Do you have some other ones? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Published in Organization Tips
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
In many ways, No-Spendtember goes against what I teach my clients. In general, Dr. Budgets is not about cutting out the things you love and drastically cutting your spending. However, what I like about No-Spendtember is that it is like a spending “cleanse,” and by participating in “No Spendtember,” you see how freely you spend your money on things that aren’t that important to you. The side benefit is that you can jump-start your debt repayment or savings goals by participating in a one-month spending cleanse. No-Spendtember really challenges you to plan ahead and to get creative… two habits that can save you lots of money with a little effort. Here’s how:
Plan Ahead. How many times do you know you are going to attend a birthday party, but you put off buying a gift until you are on your way? Then, you pick up the gift (say, $35) but you also need a card ($5), a gift bag ($3), and tissue paper ($2). You know the gift could have been purchased online for $25 if you had ordered it ahead of time, and then you could have used a reused gift bag and tissue paper you had from the last time you purchased a gift last minute. And the best greeting cards are either handmade or purchased from Trader Joe’s (99 cents!) or Home Goods (their fancy cards are HALF the cost of a regular card at Target). All of which would have saved you $15-$20! Do that once or twice a month over the year and it starts to add up! Another scenario where planning ahead saves you money: packing snacks and water for a day at the zoo, park, ballgame, airport, etc. can easily save you $40 for a small family. Planning ahead definitely saves you money!
Get Creative. Often, spending money is an easy solution to lots of life’s situations. I have found, if you take a little time to get creative, you can solve a problem or improve your life without spending money (or without spending a lot of money). For example, say you want to buy a new kitchen appliance (let’s say a juicer). You could jump on Amazon or head to the mall to pay full price, and then likely be upsold or give into an impulse buy and spend even more money! Then, you may not even use it as often as you thought you would and regret the purchase entirely. An alternative might be to borrow the appliance from a friend or family member to try it out for a week. If you love it and still want to buy one of your own, maybe you can find a discounted one on Craigslist or eBay (and save some money purchasing it from people who didn’t end up using it as often as they thought they would!). Another scenario where getting creative saves money is getting friends together for a potluck at your house instead of going out to dinner at a restaurant. You can easily save $50-$100 by doing that, and you’re able to let the wine flow freely!
The challenge to not spend money for a month during No-Spendtember simply encourages you to plan ahead and get creative, which in turn builds good habits that you can use all year. What are some ways you’ve planned ahead or gotten creative to save money?
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Jeannie & Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
This month we wanted to write something from our perspective as brand new parents. Our daughter just turned three months old, and we couldn’t be happier (tired, but happy :-)). Since this is a money-focused blog, we want to share with you our 5 initial thoughts on having our first child as it pertains to money…
Plan Ahead. Before the pregnancy, we started to think about how to structure our health insurance and how much to put into our Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Timing obviously helps with this…we found out we were pregnant in September, and open enrollment was in November. We switched over to a lower deductible and lower out-of-pocket maximum health insurance plan and maxed out our FSA to take full advantage of what was offered through work.
Disability & Paid Family Leave. We live in California, which is very generous when it comes to maternity leave. Figuring out how to get disability and paid family leave benefits can be confusing though! There are no clear step-by-step instructions on how to obtain leave and it can be frustrating. For those who are eligible, you can receive up to four weeks paid short-term disability (State Disability Insurance or “SDI”) before the baby comes, and six weeks after (eight weeks if you had a cesarean section). The four weeks of pre-delivery leave can only be used before the baby arrives, so plan accordingly. Then, at the completion of SDI, you’re eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with your child. You can get six weeks PFL – and if your significant other pays into SDI with his/her job, then they’re eligible for six weeks paid bonding time too! Also, you don’t have to use the six weeks consecutively… you can use chunks of time up to a year after the baby’s birth day.
Something neat that we learned was that you can transfer your benefit amount from the Visa prepaid card to your bank account automatically! Since things tend to change often, your best bet is to Google instructions on how to do this. For us, receiving this money allowed us to spend just over three months with our newborn daughter, and that time with her and each other was priceless.
Discount on Hospital Bill. It takes a while for the hospital and insurance company to work out the bills on their end before you get a bill for what you owe. And, with everything going on with having a newborn at home, the bills might keep getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list (below “keep baby alive” and “brush teeth”). If you don’t pay your bills right away, don’t be surprised if you get a call from the hospital billing department about payment. If you do hear from them, be honest about your situation. They might be in a position to offer 20% off your bill (which they did with us!) and/or set up a payment plan.
Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime was convenient before having a baby. If you are unexpectedly at the hospital three weeks before your baby is due, then Amazon Prime becomes a savior! If you are an Amazon Prime member and create a registry on Amazon, you get 15% off eligible items remaining on your registry. As labor began, we used the one-time 15% off discount to order the things we needed for the baby from the hospital room. When we arrived back home a few days later, we had a mountain of boxes waiting for us on our front porch! Also, with Amazon Prime you get free two-day shipping (and, sometimes, free ONE-day shipping), so we didn’t go crazy buying things we weren’t sure we would need before the baby came – we knew that if we needed an item, it was only a few clicks away. This saved us money by limiting what we bought before the baby arrived.
Cloth Diapers. We love cloth diapers! They are cute, cost effective, and eliminate a ton of diapers from ending up in a landfill. Yes, it is a little more work having to wash and dry them, but well worth it for us. We estimate the cost savings here to be minimal the first year (we had to purchase the diapers after all), but upwards of $400 for the second year, and potentially thousands for the future child(ren) we wish to have.
Those are our 5 initial thoughts on having our first child. If you know someone who is pregnant or just had a baby and wants some coaching on how to adjust their budget after this big life change, have them contact us or schedule a complimentary consultation. Happy parenting!
- Published in Family