Do You Have a Needs Only Budget?
- Megan Pacheco Chief Learning Officer, Lead Like Jesus
- 2013 12 Dec
If your financial situation were to change, do you know how much or how little you’d need in order to “make it”?
I’m not talking about huge national or global disaster. I’m simply talking about a possibility of losing your income, facing medical challenges or maybe having another child and deciding that one of you will stay home for a season. Are you prepared, just on paper, for these or other life events?
Some time ago, just for the fun of it, I sat down and created a copy of our regular budget. I went through it line by line and eliminated everything that was non-essential. All I left in that budget were items we “needed” in order to have a roof over our heads, food on our table, access to basic utilities and transportation. To my surprise, my total monthly amount went down by close to $800! It was a very revealing exercise for many reasons, but here are my top 3 reasons why I believe everyone should have a Needs Only Budget and how you can easily create one.
Peace of Mind
A recent survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) shows that over 56% of adults in the USA do not have a written budget.
Bankrate recently reported that 36% of Americans are mostly concerned about paying bills or getting caught up on their bills.
If that’s you, just trying to make ends meet while wondering where your money is going every month, then having a written plan, a budget, is non-negotiable in order to make financial progress. The simple understanding of where each of your hard-earned dollars are going will give you the information you need in order to start making adjustments.
Having a Needs Only Budget will take you a step further and give you a peace of mind about facing unexpected life events. The feeling of knowing you are prepared will be worth a few extra minutes of your time.
Plan of Action
A Needs Only Budget is a great way to have a plan or a roadmap of what action steps are needed in order to adjust to your new financial reality.
Instead of panicking, you can simply pull out your Needs Only Budget, go though the list of items you’ve already decided to eliminate ahead of time (in case something were to happen) and you can spend the rest of your time looking for another job, considering other options like running a small home business (daycare, crafts, etc.) or simply enjoying some much needed time off.
Preparing ahead of time gives you peace of mind and protects you from making impulsive decisions in the moment of uncertainty.
Here is another interesting fact about budgeting. According to the research done by the authors of the book The Millionaire Next Door, the majority of those who are self-made millionaires not only have a budget but also track every single penny spent! If those with substantial wealth consider budgeting and tracking expenses as a key priority, all of us should pay attention and learn!
Opportunity to Save Now
Once you create your Needs Only Budget you’ll immediately notice how much you could be saving today, if you were to adjust your spending. Creating this secondary plan may open your eyes to possibilities of curbing certain budget categories in order to put more money towards debt repayment, savings or prepaying your mortgage. Having this quick visual will allow you to take a step back, think about your long-term financial goals and how a few small adjustments can help you achieve those goals sooner. Here are just a few of the items that may be an obvious candidate for adjustments:
- Lowering or eliminating your cable TV bill
- Readjusting your entertainment budget (eating out, movies, etc.)
- Opting for a different cell phone plan / getting rid of your landline for good!
- Trading your high payment car for something less costly
Make Planning and Budgeting Easy on You
So many of us dread the word budget. Before we give it a try we assume that it’s too hard, too time consuming and, frankly, too restricting. What those who have and follow a written plan will tell you is that it’s actually the opposite.
Having a budget frees you to spend without worrying and guessing. It actually helps you financially prioritize what’s important to you and your family so that you can achieve your shared goals and dreams.
Creating a budget and tracking your spending is now easier than ever before. Mvelopes, an online budgeting software is a great example of what you can do in literally minutes. Because Mvelopes is based on the tried and proven envelope budgeting system, you will not only be able to create a plan and track your every dollar, but you’ll also do it all in a proactive way rather than trying to correct spending errors after the fact. Mvelopes will become a great budgeting and accountability partner for you and your family.
So go ahead, set your preconceived notions about budgeting aside. If you don’t have a plan, create one. It’ll only take few minutes. If you already have a budget, go ahead and take one more step. Create your Needs Only Budget, tuck it away and relax, knowing that you’ve just created your emergency plan of action.
Megan Pacheco is a writer and content manager for Finicity (provider of Mvelopes and Money4Life Coaching). She comes with 13 years of experience in the area of personal finances and her tips on budgeting, debt, saving, giving, money and marriage and more have been published by Yahoo Finance, AllParenting, FoxBusiness, DailyFinance, REDBOOK and others. You can contact megan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: December 9, 2013