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Budgeting the right way
A day after the budget, reading newspapers and watching the coverage of the annual financial event can make one a bit confused. Is income tax lower or higher? Are loan EMIs coming down? Are villages getting more government funds than cities? Meet, 34-year old Rahul who is sort of puzzled by the Union Budget announcements. Little does he know that the budget is all about achieving a fine balance between aspirations and realities. It is not easy to have something for everybody, but it is realistic to meet a part of everybody’s expectations. Here is a look at the way even you can emulate a good budget for your home.
Maintain a balance: The government, time and again, has shown how it’s important to restrain oneself. There is always a lot of demand to cut taxes and boost consumption, but the finance ministers usually take a wise decision. Many family budgets suffer from the same problem --- too many demands. Whenever there are big expenses, most of us almost always use credit as the first option. If your income is Rs 50,000 and expenses are Rs 45000, you are clearly not saving much. Going by the thumb-rule of 20% savings, a person with Rs 50,000 income should save Rs 10,000 at the minimum every month. Avoid using credit at the drop of the hat, but don’t be afraid to use loans when you need to do something important.
Avoid populism: Many families fritter away a large part of their budget by front-loading their budget. This means they spend a lot in the first two weeks, and then have to be on a strict diet for the rest of the month. Instead of purchasing expensive movie tickets, or going for a quick weekend trip just based on impulses, save some money for a bigger dose of enjoyment. The pressure to spend money will always exist, but only the smart ones will be able to avoid mistakes. For instance, gifts for a school friend’s wedding should not be extremely costly. Try and pool in money from class-mates. Instead of taking short vacation breaks every few weeks, build a corpus so that you can get the overseas trip your family always wanted.
Saving is investing: Most governments run a lot of debt, but are still able to manage their households, or the economies. This is because saving money is as important as investing it in the right areas. Do not try to keep savings in an idle fashion. Many salaried persons have the habit of keeping a lot of money in their savings bank account, which fetches them a lower rate of return. Making the money work for you is extremely important. Invest in a fixed deposit, a mutual fund, a unit linked insurance plan, or put the money into a traditional avenue like public provident fund. Investing savings ensures that your money will work as hard as you, and fetch you better returns. Also, keeping a lot of cash idle in your savings account can lead to unnecessary expenses, which is bad for your financial health.
Rome was not built in day: There is an immense amount of pressure on governments to bring the best budget every single time. It is unrealistic but all of us citizens want more exemptions and less taxes. Yet, the best of financial wizards know that building and managing wealth, or a budget, is not a spectator sport. It takes years to get a family budget in shape, but only a wrong decision to spoil the entire thing in a flash. If you don’t have health insurance, an accident can totally destroy family finances. Cultivate good habits like spending lower than your income, prioritize expenses and investing the savings in an efficient manner. A hurried approach towards budgeting can lead to great results on one particular month, but extremely bad outcomes on most of the other days. Keep it simple and, persist with a plan for as long as you can. Writing down the monthly budget ahead of your salary and having a check-list of major expenses in the upcoming days is a great way of bringing discipline.
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