4 Tricks for Better Budgeting and Planning - dummies

4 Tricks for Better Budgeting and Planning

By Stephen L. Nelson

While Quicken 2014 can help you maintain a budget and take control of your finances, there are four things you can do to make your budgeting and day-to-day financial planning more effective and more efficient:

  • Plan your income and expenses as a family.

    With this sort of planning, two heads (or even three or four heads) are invariably better than one. A family’s budget needs to reflect the priorities and feelings of everyone who has to live within the plan. Don’t use a budget as a way to minimize what your spouse spends on clothing or on long-distance telephone charges talking to relatives in the old country. Instead, resolve issues regarding your clothing and long-distance charges before you finalize your budget.

  • Include some cushion in your plan.

    Put some cushion or contingency into your budget. Don’t budget to spend every last dollar. If you plan from the start to spend every dollar you make, you undoubtedly have to fight the mother of all financial battles: paying for unexpected expenses when you don’t have any money. For example, car repairs, medical expenses, or that cocktail dress or tuxedo you absolutely must have for a special party.

  • Regularly compare your actual income and outgo to your planned income and outgo.

    This part of your plan is probably the most important and also the part that Quicken 2014 helps you with the most. When you use Quicken 2014 to record what you receive and spend, you can print reports showing what you planned and what actually occurred. Because your income and outgo will deviate from your plans every now and then, monitoring can help reduce extra financial stress.

  • Make adjustments as necessary.

  • When you have problems with your budget — and you will — you’ll know that your plan isn’t working. But that’s okay. If you know you need to do something different, you can then make adjustments, for example, by spending a little less calling the old country.