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By Debbie Placke, Vice President, Manager Financial Planning Tools and Marketing

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Creating a budget is the simplest way to start working toward achieving your financial goals. As the end of summer approaches, it is a good time to start planning for the approaching holidays as well as looking ahead to next year and the years ahead.

The first step is to get your income and spending under control. Start by asking a Benjamin F. Edwards financial advisor for access to a budgeting tool, or begin with a simple note pad and pencil. Record your income amounts and bills along with the dates due. Is there enough income to cover expenses? Is there an excess?

Once you have a handle on your income and expenses, and your spending plan is in place, you can start on a savings plan. A good place to start with that is an emergency fund that can protect you when times are tough. Unexpected expenses can pop up like home or auto repairs, and having that emergency fund can help avoid putting those expenses on a credit card and paying high interest rates on the debt. A tip for getting a savings plan started is to look at your excess income, and have a portion of that directly deposited into a savings account when you are paid. Automatic transfers are another good way to set aside money into a non-spending account.

Think about your financial goals and set out a plan for saving for short-term as well as long-term goals. You can utilize different approaches for each goal since saving into just one bucket may not cover everything. Remember to think about everything including planning for retirement, funding education costs for children or grandchildren and maybe that lake house that you have been dreaming about. Contact a Benjamin F. Edwards advisor for help in getting started with a budget and expanding to a goal plan that will keep you on track throughout your lifetime.

July 31, 2019 |