Women helping women
To say the least, 2020 was unusual in many respects. With the pandemic, business shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and a highly contentious election, the year was definitely one for the history books. It was also an unusual year from a financial perspective.
Many individuals saved money, as we were not commuting as much, eating out, spending money on entertainment, or buying as many dressy clothes. On the other hand, we may have been spending more on:
- The food we were cooking and/or ordering in
- Utilities with more lights, electronics and networking expenses
- Online shopping in general to alleviate the boredom and stress from being at home
And because most of us had our routines completely disrupted, tracking our spending and savings may have fallen by the wayside. The new year is a good time to focus on finances. So here are a few ideas.
It’s important to understand where your money is going. And if you didn’t save as much as you expected, to understand why. Consider:
- If you did track your money, consider comparing 2020 to 2019. How different was it? Which categories increased and which decreased?
- You’ll want to consider categories for income, fixed expenses (such as mortgage, car payments), and discretionary expenses at least.
- Now, look your totals. Did your outflow exceed your income, such that you were relying on credit cards? If so, how much debt are you carrying and what is it costing to service the debt?
If you don’t track your spending, consider doing so now. Grab your checkbook and credit card statements and look at where your money went, trying to get an idea of what changed over time.
If you don’t enjoy doing this by hand, there are a number of apps, budgeting programs, and spreadsheets you can use to keep track of it more easily and follow the process above.
One step at a time
If it seems overwhelming to look at the whole year at once, consider looking at it one month at a time. The idea is simply to get a realistic picture of how much you earn and spend over time. We believe you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. So, gaining an understanding of where your money is going is critical to helping you to plan for a better year this year, hopefully increasing your savings over time.
Gasber Financial is here to help you plan for the future. We’re happy to help you look at your monthly and yearly spending, to help you determine places where you can save, and to help you best determine how to pay off any debt you may have accumulated. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.