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Budgeting Your Money Doesn’t Have To Be Hard.

Everyone sees there bank account number but what does that really mean? It says I have $5,000 but in all actuality I am broke because it is all spent money. Between my shelter and food ans car, I have not much left over to just willy nilly spend. As an experienced Investor and Financial Planner, I have come across a lot of “plans” and strategies  to help save you money. I have to laugh at some of these plans, they want you to live like a squirrel hovering over a trashcan, alive but not living. So, you ask ‘how can I put away enough money without having to sacrifice everything?’

Well over the course of the blog I will shed the light on some ideas, using the #BudgetPlan to do so. Let’s start out with 3 points to help the beginner, or even someone who has a plan that needs a little help.

1. Goals

What exactly are your goals in life? what stage are you in life? Right out of college with a job? or mid life trying to make it work?. Goals are a very simple idea, but they are the one point that everyone skips over. One big goal is always retirement, also paying off debt whether that is school debt or any other debt.

For Goals, I suggest writing them down and making them vague, at first. Rule numero uno is to start vague and narrow in as you get more and more information and time to do so.  Some examples of goals could be as big as a house or as small as a new TV. Break out these prices that you want to spend on this upcoming purchase. Now you might be thinking these goals are good but those are fun goals, what about my debt.

WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR GOALS. Get out of debt. Pay your credit cards off. Go back to school. Buy a house. Buy new furniture. Get a new Computer. Goals from now to 5 years are always good to plan. Anything less than $100,000 and not expected in the next 5 years is not necessary to plan for. Write them down with an approximate dollar amount next to them.

2. Expense Buckets

Write down all your fixed expenses. (I do everything through Excel) Put a price next to them. These are all expenses that you must pay on a monthly basis. Break them up into these buckets.

  • Utilities: Electric, Water, Trash, Cable/Internet.
  • Medical: Do you have a monthly or yearly medical cost that you know of off hand? Do you pay for contacts or glasses? Any Health Care expenses you know of should g in this bucket.
  • Entertainment: Netflix? Hulu Plus? iTunes or any other subscriptions that you have. Magazines would be another example here too, or if you want to get sports tickets or concert tickets here would be the bucket to budget.
  • Car/Travel: Car insurance, Car Payment, Gas, Maintenance. Whatever it takes for you to get to work, to the store or in fact anywhere.
  • Food: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Clothing: You know what you need, set aside what you think you need/want to spend on a monthly basis
  • Savings: You are thinking, savings? in the expense category? You can call this what you want but this is where you would put aside money to pay student loans, or other misc. debts. You also will want to put a set amount aside in savings say $100 a month for example. This is a Fixed Savings unlike the savings I will explain later.

I create a tab for each expense bucket. In each bucket/tab list out each expense with the dollar amount in rows. In the first column at the top put PAY and the next column MONTH, figure out the expense by month and then DIVIDE it by 2 for the PAY column.

This will bring you to an amount for each bucket that when you get paid, you will need to put aside right away. If you have a method that puts that money aside the second you get it will help you. REMEMBER: Include your goals somewhere in your Buckets, these are the buckets that I use, but they do not have to be the exact same. Personal change may be needed.

3. No Place Money

After you put all the money aside, hopefully you have money that is left over. I always have a main tab that shows this amount. Money that does not have a destination, money that is left over each month  is a free for all. This is where you decide whether to boost up a certain bucket or pile it all in Savings, or to go spend it. Remember you can always up your Fixed Savings if you are left over with too much. But the difference between ‘No Place Money’ and Fixed Savings is every pay/month you decide what to do with the money rather than automatically putting it into savings.

This strategy helps the spender in all of us, by giving you a plan to see what you can spend while also saving and accomplishing your Goals.

If you are looking for a working template of this strategy in Excel, please leave a comment on this post.

Pittsburgh: The Black and Gold

This past weekend my wife and I drove to west to Pittsburgh. Having family out that way we try to make it an annual trip but we are not always able. Taking the PA Turnpike the entire way makes for an easy drive and one I always question why we don’t take more often.

For those of you who have never been, it’s a steel town or better yet “the” steel town. Its passion for sports run deep with a uniqueness that I have yet to find somewhere similar for comparison. Three major rivers meeting together, making for the iconic yellow bridges throughout the city, a total of 446 to be exact, along with the mountains create a sentiment like no other.

Pittsburgh is not known for the bustling downtown as it is for its many neighborhoods in close proximity that make up the city. Downtown is called the Central Business District and is not terribly big.

Staying our weekend in Bloomfield we were still in the city but able to get the neighborhood feel.Capture pitt

Going over a weekend has its advantages, as we were able to walk to a pop-up market in a parking lot that otherwise seems unappealing. Dogs are everywhere, I am not sure you are aloud to live in the city limits and not own a dog. And if you own a dog, the first rule is you must bring it to the market to spend time with all the other dogs. Truth!….

One thing I forget is how big of the city is, from the neighborhoods that expand out toward Washington Blvd. to the off Broadway shows along with everything that goes along with being close to a river.

Food

Known famously for the Primanti Bros. sandwich with all the fixings on top of the sandwich, although people there will tell you it’s overplayed at this point and extremely commercialized now. Still if you haven’t had it before make sure to check out the original one in the Strip District.other 2

On Sunday we went down to the Strip District where there are a bunch of shops and places to eat. If you want a cheap T-Shirt this is the place to get it!

We had brunch at Kaya a Caribbean Island influence. A very unique but very good brunch spot. I highly recommend the sweet potato fries, It’s a must. Check out my Yelp review for more on this place

 

Last we made it to a Pirates game for the Sunday afternoon series finale against the Padres. For a team that is usually below .500 they had quite the turn out. As a first timer in PNC Park I was very impressed with the stadium and even the food there too! It was a great experience and the view from behind home plate, seeing the bridge and city skyline in the backdrop is a view you won’t forget anytime soon.

It was a short weekend trip in a city that always has me wanting to come back soon. This trip was no different, not to mention the weather was perfect. If you haven’t been, simply you should!

A Profession in Business; A Passion in Much More

Secondary Education is to a career what cake is to birthday party, needed. College has become more than a normality but also somewhat of a requirement. Almost 20% of college students have a major in business administration, which I do not find surprising at all

Going into college I was unsure of not only what I wanted to do but the whole college thing in general. Not for any other reason then not wanting to waste time and money. Student loans mean years of debt for a young adult just starting out and I was unsure I wanted that debt. But just like many recent high school grads I took the plunge.

There is no handbook, no guidelines for how to best select a career but that is what every new batch of freshmen are to do. First choosing a teaching career and switching to business with a concentration in accounting was how I spent my four years at Millersville University in Central Pennsylvania.

Accounting is a professions that has been around for awhile, has a job market and is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Whether it is abiding SEC regulations or trying to get new investors financial statements come in handy especially when your talking the stock market. Most careers have a certification, test or some sort of extra degree, for accounting that is the CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

A CPA comes with many benefits. After passing all four parts of the CPA (Financial (FAR), Business (BEC), Auditing (AUD), and Regulation (REG)) in 18 months and based on the state regulations you are awarded you CPA certificate. Most states require a certain amount of credits and/or working hours in accounting. The NASBA was kind enough to put a top 5 reasons to become a CPA.

Why-Become-a-CPA-Infographic-05

Not sure why Money & Benefits is #5, I would assume it is closer to the top in most candidates mind.

Either way, being a graduate with a degree in accounting obtaining a CPA is a current goal and mission of mine as I write this.

Nothing short of exposure to business was in my upbringing. Whether it was a balloon business or a malt shop turned into full food and drink concessions business decisions and opportunities were at my finger tips. Helping out at a young age the exposure was just that. But the exposure I was able to have when in high school I was able to have my own money and stake in the game really opens your eyes to everything, and I mean everything.

Talking to many peers in there late teens early tweeties the dream is always to be an entrepreneur. Our vision of this foreseen business is always success. The misconception that if “you” were at the helm decisions would be easy to make. Social Media posts aren’t filled with business that almost made it, or ones that could have made it if they had a break. No, its filled with success story after success story, or at least that is what we are to believe. In fact many, many more businesses fail then actually succeed. As much as I did not see failure, I did not experience success so you can be the judge of that.

Experience teaches one more than any book or certification will ever. That is not to say that learning the book and getting degrees does not have value, but there is a gap in any situation that only experience can fill. Experiencing failure is like nothing else. It molds who you are and puts a fork in the road as future decisions will always be made with those previous experiences in hindsight.

Having a career is just that, I do not believe it is something that defines one but helps tell a story, a chapter per say.  For myself I can say there is so much more that goes into who I am and what matters to me. As this site and blog develops, those other interests will

I write this to say it’s all a journey, never knowing where the next opportunity lies or which investment has the golden ticket written on it. All a mix of timing, awareness and wisdom to act on what lays in front of you.

As experiences happen, I hope to provide insight and tidbits into what I experience and all that goes with that. Whether its business, accounting, books, or something technology, there is no scope and definitely no ceiling. So please buckle up and lets see where this ride takes up

Yours truly

J. Sirro