How to Build a Budget to Boost Your Savings

9/26/2022 - By Pierce Broscious, CFP

October 12th is National Savings Day – a day to celebrate savings across the nation and reflect on the importance of maintaining healthy financial habits. A disciplined savings strategy is the foundation for building wealth, and often, the impact of saving a small amount consistently over time is underestimated. So how do you create savings? Well, the simple answer is to spend less than you make. The challenging part is that for many people this requires building a budget. Budgeting can be a daunting topic for many individuals regardless of where they are in their saving journey. This being the case, here are a few tips and guidelines that I have learned while not only creating my own budget, but also assisting others in creating theirs.   

First Tip: Face the Facts

When it comes to tracking your expenses, don’t guess how much you currently spend – use a budget worksheet and an actual account statement which is reflective of an average month’s expenses. You may be shocked at how much you actually spend on certain things. Although it may feel uncomfortable to be taken by surprise, the importance of this realization should not be understated. This will help you think about how much you spend on those items going forward.

Second Tip: Address the Budget Surprises

The most important number in your budget is the bottom line, which is the amount after subtracting all expenses from your monthly income. This number represents your net discretionary cash flow, and if it’s negative, that means you’re spending more than you earn each month. If positive, then you have money to save, invest or put towards a certain goal. After your initial review of the budget, check to see if you’re spending less than you earn. Did you find any surprises? If so, it might be time to consider adjusting your spending in that area. Remember, the only way to address a shortfall of money is to either make more or spend less. 

Final Tip: Set Realistic Goals for Your Future Spending and Saving Habits. 

It can be tempting to set big goals for yourself based on your budget analysis. Maybe you want to tackle paying down debt, reduce spending on certain items or perhaps put your excess capital to work for your long-term goals. Instead of making those big goals the primary objective, break them into smaller, more achievable targets. For example, instead of eliminating your spending on a certain item like a daily morning coffee run, try reducing the number of days you go. By making small changes, the process of reaching your long-term goals will feel more manageable, and you will feel confident about spending money. Before you know it, you’ll be on track to your own financial security. And that’s what will bring you the most peace of mind.

Questions? 

Whether you are building a budget for the first-time or are a budgeting expert, saving and investing consistently over your working years is a key component to a successful retirement plan. At Saltmarsh Financial Advisors, it is our privilege to work with individuals who have used budgets to successfully save for their retirement. Our mission is to contribute to their success by helping them plan for their retirement goals. If you or someone you know could benefit from a long-term relationship with a trusted advisor who is bound to act in their best interests, please contact us. 

Want to dive deeper? Join our Foundations of Financial Stability webinar on October 12, National Savings Day, for a high-level overview of initial financial objectives.

About the Author | Pierce Broscious, CFP®

Pierce is an associate financial advisor for Saltmarsh Financial Advisors, LLC, an affiliate of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund. He is responsible for the research and preparation of investment proposals, portfolio rebalancing and construction of financial plans. He also assists in the creation and maintenance of client files and communications. Pierce previously worked in data analytics for a global payments consulting firm.


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