Next to going on a diet, going on a budget may be the most dreaded phrase in adulthood. Like a diet, a budget will fail if it overreaches, over-restrains, or overdoes it. As a physician investor looking to gain some control over their finances, what you need is a fiscal lifestyle change rather than a regimen of deprivation. Here are some tips on where to start.
Take a good look at where you are. Sharpen that #2 pencil and break out a clean white piece of paper; it’s time to take a hard look at the ins and outs of your finances. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends plotting out the basics. What are your income sources? How are they allocated? What are the major draws on your income, including housing, utilities, transportation, educational debt, groceries, entertainment, and so on? It can sometimes be shocking to discover how much of your budget is going toward gourmet coffee.
Look ahead to where you are going. Clear goals are a great way to keep a budget on track. Short-term goals like a new car or a vacation and long-term goals like retirement and college for your children should be plotted out using savings calculators. They should then be built into your budget so that you are restraining your spending while still enjoying life.
Establish a support system. There is a reason why we hire personal trainers—to keep us on task and motivated while adjusting our regimen as needed. A financial planner can offer the same type of guidance regarding your finances. In addition to a paid expert, make sure your partner is on board with your budgeting efforts. Budgeting is best done as a team sport.
Find good tools. According to NerdWallet as well as CNBC, budgeting apps can be a great help in monitoring and adjusting your fiscal health. Here are a few of the highly ranked budget apps available: PocketGuard, Mint, YNAB (ie, You Need a Budget), EveryDollar, Goodbudget, Personal Capital, and Honeydue. Each of these apps has their own niche, so be sure to take a minute to explore which is the best fit for you.