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The Emerging Leader's Guide to Budgeting

Joseph Testa, MBA
Joseph Testa, MBA Contributing Editor and Coach

January was Financial Wellness month and, of course, the first month of the year should be a month filled with big goals .outlooks for what's next, and even for personal resolutions. I am here to help you on your journey for financial wellness, specifically starting (and maintaining) a financial budget.

Here are my 3 easy budgeting tips:

1. Just get started! “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” by Wayne Gretzky is my favorite quote. And it aligns well with today’s tip. Budgeting can be a challenge, but the hardest part is just getting started. So, let’s do it now…yes, right now! Open an Excel document or find some blank paper. List your income/take home pay and any other monies you have coming in each month. Leave no stone unturned! List all of your money coming in. Next, list all of your money going out…all of your bills and expenses. Spend the most time here, as you will really want to ensure you have all subscriptions, expenses and bills listed.

2. Focus on Debt – Debt can be a very tough thing for some to deal with. Student loans. Credit card debt. Car payments. They all can have a lasting effect on your financial wellness and goals. Simply put, if you have debt, make it a point to do all you can to pay off your loans early, focus on paying down your debt and create a plan as part of your budget to tackle your debt goals. Not all debt can be a bad thing however, you just need to stay on top of it. If you need help, seek out a professional/Financial Advisor. If for any reason you feel you are unable to pay your debts or may miss payments, get in touch with your debt collector ASAP, and work out a payment plan that works for you. Not paying vs paying what you can is wildly different. Debt can also have lasting impacts on your credit score, so it is vital you make a point to focus on your debt and budget accordingly. Don’t stress, just focus on sticking to a plan.

3. Fun – What is the word fun doing in an article about Budgeting? Well, believe it or not, no matter how much we save and focus on our financial future, we cannot take the money we earn with us when we pass away. We may be the richest man or woman in the world, but you never can take your earthly possessions with you! I want you to budget time (and money) for your family, friends and having fun. Enjoy your life and don’t sweat too hard on your finances. As the saying goes “YOLO” (You only live once) …so be sure to budget money for a vacation/getaway or as I call it a rainy-day fund. Enjoy your money. And if you take Step 1 and Step 2 above seriously and work hard, you can play hard as well and have fun! Budgeting can allow you to have more control of your finances, which in turn, can greatly help you to “save” for a fun night out or something special!

More Practical Solutions

To further enhance your financial wellness journey, here are some examples and compelling steps emerging leaders can take to save money and build wealth:

  • Automate Savings: Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account each month. This way, you are consistently saving without having to think about it. Start small and gradually increase the amount as you become more comfortable with your budget.
  • Track Your Spending: Use budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses. By monitoring where your money goes, you can identify areas where you can cut back and save more. This awareness is crucial in maintaining a healthy financial outlook.
  • Negotiate Bills: Take the time to review your recurring bills such as utilities, phone plans, and insurance. Reach out to providers to see if you can negotiate better rates or switch to more cost-effective options. Every dollar saved counts towards your financial goals.
  • Invest Wisely: Consider investing in low-cost index funds or stocks for long-term growth. Diversifying your investments can help you build wealth over time. If you're unsure about where to start, seek advice from a financial advisor to create an investment plan aligned with your goals.
  • Practice Frugality: Embrace a frugal mindset by cutting unnecessary expenses and finding creative ways to save money. This could mean meal prepping instead of dining out, opting for public transportation, or shopping for deals and discounts. Small changes in your daily habits can lead to significant savings in the long run.

Achieving financial wellness is a journey that requires dedication, discipline, and a positive mindset. By following these budgeting tips and taking proactive steps to save money, you are setting yourself up for long-term financial success. Remember, financial wellness is not just about accumulating wealth but also about enjoying life and prioritizing what truly matters to you. By striking a balance between saving for the future and living in the present, you can create a sustainable financial plan that supports your goals and aspirations. Start today, stay committed, and watch your financial well-being flourish.

About the Author:

Joe Testa is a Manager of Operations at a Fortune 500 company and also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Caldwell University, School of Business. Joe specializes in leadership development, personal branding and mentorship. He is available to assist you on your leadership journey and beyond!

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