|Ask Miss Smartypants - February 1, 2010||| Print ||
|Written by Miss Smartypants|
|Monday, 01 February 2010 00:00|
Dear Miss Smartypants,
About six months ago, I started my first permanent job. Through university and since graduation, I've been living pretty hand to mouth. Fortunately, I don't have any big debts to pay off (monthly credit card bill, but that's about it). What I'm wondering is, should I budget? I'm making enough money that I can pay my bills and still have a little left over at the end of the month, but there's nothing I'm really striving for. Should I enjoy this liquidity for the time being and think about it later?
Planning Ahead Was Never My Forte
In this economy? No, you should not think about this later. You should think about it now. First, keep track of how much you spend in a month. Not just the big stuff (rent, phone, internet, hydro), but everything: groceries, coffee breaks, movies, after work drinks. Don't total it up and end up altering your behaviour just because you are keeping track of it. Wait until a full month has passed and add that in there. Take your grand total and subtract it from the amount you make in a month. Now you know exactly how much liquidity you really have. With this figure in mind, find a financial planner. This might be through your bank or someone you know who has one. A financial planner will be able to -- get this -- help you make a financial plan. Through a series of questions, you'll be able to determine what you want to do with your money: go on a trip? lease a car? plan for unemployment? Not saying that to be mean, but it could happen. If you're lucky, your planner should be able to come up with something that saves toward retirement (sigh, yes, you need to start doing that right away) and something you can enjoy sooner (like that trip).
Also, please consider setting up a monthly contribution to a worthwhile charity. Haiti is top of mind right now (and that's a great place to start), and there are so many NGOs and charities that could do great things with your money every day of the year. It feels good to use our Western affluence for something other than ourselves. And you'll get a nice tax break. It's win-win.