It's net worth day! On the first of every month, you should calculate your net worth. It a great way to see the big picture. Sometimes you don't know how well you've done. This month, I thought I my net worth was going to decrease, because I made a payment to Penn State for my master's program, paid my mortgage, and paid for an appraisal. However, my net worth went up 8.39%! I had no idea it was going to go up, but my assets had a good month. My investments went up and I made an additional payment toward my principle of my home. Your net worth shows how the accumulation of your wealth did.
Reflect on how you've done for your net worth and what you could have done differently. Something I wish I had done differently is not pay the appraisal unless I was sure I could secure the loan. I'll talk more about the refinancing fallout sometime over the next couple days. But basically, I relied too much on the appraisal to get my home refinanced and the $500 appraisal fee was the "tax" I had to pay (not literally tax, but you know what I mean). That $500 would have helped me reach another goal.
Set a goal for your next month. A number you realistically would like to hit. I usually set my goals in terms of $1,000s, $5,000s, and $10,000s. These numbers should be comparative to your income. If you make $300,000 per year, the lowest you should make goals by is $10,000. If you make $60,000 per year, you might want to go by $500, or even $250. For example, if your net worth was $7,250 this month, a good goal next month would be $7,750, or maybe $8,000. Then, figure out a plan to get there. Learn from the mistakes you made last month and have a concrete plan this month. Literally write out what you're going to do differently if you have to.
In engineering, we have these things called Lessons Learned. At the end of every project, we sit down as a team and talk about what lessons we've learned. We first list all the notable events that occurred, such as missing a deadline, or coming in under budget. Then, next to each event, we describe what caused that event. Finally, in the last column, we describe our lesson learned, whether we would repeat the action or do something differently next time. You can do the same with your finances and it could really help you if you do.
I have a great excel spreadsheet to keep track of your net worth. It shows the percentage you've gone up from last month, the percentage you've grown this year, and the average growth over time. It also shows cool graphs so that you can visually see your net worth. Just message me if you would like it!
Question, "How can I conveniently allocate small sums of money to budget for future expenses?"
"If I have $X in my checking account, and I know of upcoming purchases this month, such as, rent, groceries, a haircut, a new bicycle, a new pair of glasses, my gym membership, etc., is there an easy, effective way to put specific sums of money for each purchase in a specific place, where it is inaccessible until I decide I need the money?
I have tried pulling out cash from the ATM and putting it in labeled envelopes, but I'm aiming for something as easy as the click of a button on a smartphone.
My mobile banking app doesn't allow more than a few separate labeled accounts, and even if it did, the money wouldn't be inaccessible enough. I could immediately transfer it out as soon as I wanted to buy something else.
Ideally, at the tap of a button, I could put a sum somewhere, labelled, and make the funds unavailable until a certain date. Or they could be available any time, but on a time delay of 2-3 days. This would be enough to inhibit me impulsively spending them.
The only idea I have right now is to invest the money in some kind of short-term investment, like a money market fund."
Using apps, physical envelopes, or spreadsheets could all work, but the real problem you're experiencing is the lack of self-discipline. Setting money aside in an account that's inaccessible until a certain date may help, but it doesn't fix the problem. You'll still find a way to access this money.
I would suggest going back to your envelop method, physically or electronically. Practice not touching these envelopes every month until needed. Changing your budget to a shorter term may psychologically help too. Say you do your budget every week. Money becomes available a lot more quicker and you won't feel the need to dip into these other envelopes that are allocated for upcoming expenses.
Also, part of self-discipline is the discipline. If you find yourself dipping into other envelopes, you need to punish yourself. Don't give yourself spending money next month or don't go out to eat for a couple weeks, if you break the rules. Find yourself an accountability partner with your finances that can help you with this. They could be a spouse, family member, or friend.
Better Budget Co
Your guide to all things personal finance. We're big fans of goal getting budgets, debt fee living, and a good cappuccino.
My name is Corey and I have a passion for budgets and personal financing. I can talk about it for days (weirdly enough). Hope you enjoy the blog!
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