A retirement budget is one of the most useful tools you can have to track your expenditures and make sure you are spending your money wisely and making the most of your retirement years. While the budgeting process can start as a simple record of all your income versus your expenses, there are a couple of things you can do to fine tune that process and make sure you are capturing everything to make a realistic budget.
Record keeping is essential for an effective retirement budget process and the first thing you can do to improve the accuracy of this exercise is to go back at least a year to review the monthly expenses that you have. If you can go back two or more years, that’s even better. The reason for this is that it will help capture a broader range of the money you spend as well as highlighting additional items that you may have missed.
The second thing you can do to improve your retirement budget is to record every penny you spend for at least a month. If you’re like most people, you’ll be surprised at the amount of money that just disappears without having been captured in your original retirement budget. Once you’ve done this for a month, you’ll see how easy it is to do and may very well keep doing it. In fact, there are many applications that you can install on your smartphone to make this even easier. It is also getting more and more popular to pay with your phone as often as possible. It’s quicker, healthier (money is a great germ transmitter), provides better records and, in some cases, can even save you money or generate money back to you depending on what you spend.
The information you collect should give you an accurate reading of where your money is going and how much you should have left over at the end of a month. This may be more than you thought, or it may show you areas where you will need to cut back. The bottom line is that you will have a good information record to make some changes if needed. You can highlight the areas you need to cut back on and look for ways to save money or cut spending on those.
Remember to count everything in your retirement budget and do it accurately. I you want to take a vacation every year, make sure you account for that. If you want to dine out every night, account for that as well. Making your retirement budget as accurate as possible is one of the best things you can do and it will be something you come back to again and again to fine tune the process. It will held take some of the stress that money can cause and that’s always worth doing. After all, retirement is made to be enjoyed.