If your jeans are getting tighter as your wallet gets thinner, it’s time to turn things around, according to noted East Bay financial advisor Michelle Perry Higgins.
“The principles behind dieting and budgeting are very similar,” Perry Higgins said. “Both take discipline, planning and an investment of time and energy. It’s understandable that you might become discouraged at times, but if you remain committed you can reap huge rewards.”
Establishing and maintaining a budget are important for everyone, Perry Higgins said, but this is especially true for women. “In order for a woman to be truly independent, she has to have money of her own,” she said. “If you stick to a reasonable budget plan for even a few months, you might be surprised at how much money you can save. Money gives you the power and the freedom to make choices.”
She also emphasizes the importance of finding the budget system, similar to a diet plan, that works for you. “Some people are great with computers, while others work better with hand-written record-keeping,” Perry Higgins said. “The point is that in order for the budget to work, it has to fit your lifestyle. Find the budget that suits you and stick with it.”
If you need external motivation, Perry Higgins advises seeking out help from a professional. “Just as a personal trainer or nutritionist can help you reach your goals faster and better, an accountant or financial advisor can help you tremendously with your budgeting,” she said. “The results you get are generally worth the money you spend.”
In order for the budget to work, she said that the plan has to be regularly weighed against the results it produces. “Your budget needs to be monitored daily, weekly and monthly to keep you on track,” she said. “You might fall off the plan for a day or two, but regular reviewing will help you keep to the routine.”
She also suggests that staying on course might be easier if you shift the way you think about money. “If you think of money as a luxury rather than a resource, you could be tempted to spend far more than what is really necessary,” Perry Higgins said. “We’ve all done that from time to time, but when it’s an regular occurrence, that’s when it becomes a real problem.” Perry Higgins advocates thinking of money and savings as the keys to freedom. “When you find a treasure, you use the keys to protect its value and keep it safely hidden,” she said. “Treat your money the same way and it will return dividends.”
Perry Higgins also wants you to be realistic with your approach to budgeting. “With dieting, it is important to plan to include foods you like so you won’t be tempted to binge. Planning a realistic budget is similar.” She recommends that you make sure your spending plan includes entertainment, dining out and shopping. “As long as you place a limit on how much you treat yourself and how often, you will still be able to meet your financial goals.”
However, Perry Higgins cautions against looking for a fast fix. “Don’t expect to see huge savings right away. Just like with dieting, good budgeting produces results over time. Be patient, and focus on the end result: your good financial health.”
Michelle Perry Higgins is a financial planner and principal of California Financial Advisors in San Ramon, California. She specializes in wealth management, and has built a successful practice advising executive professionals into retirement. Michelle was featured as a 2012 Five Star Wealth Manager Award winner by Diablo Magazine, and was also ranked as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Registered Investment Advisors for 2012 and ranked in the Top 25 Women RIAs 2012, by WealthManagement.com.For more information please visit www.calfinad.com. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/MichellePerryHiggins. Follow her on Twitter: @RetirementMPH.
Originally published in February 2013 Lioness
Photo courtesy of Got Credit [FLICKR]