Silicon Valley Estate Planning Journal

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Budgeting, Part 1: Budgeting as a Friend and not a Foe

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Budgets do control spending behavior. However, budgets also allocate resources to the areas of highest impact or interest. When a budget is structured based on priorities and values, much of the controlling element is removed.
Using budgets at work is understood and expected. A company has a limited amount of money and so must allocate that money based on priorities—by budgeting. But often the discipline workers use at work does not carry over at home. The result is often overspending, debt, arguments between spouses/partners, loss of control, and unrealized dreams and goals.
The Key Takeaways
Using a budget helps to allocate limited resources to the areas that matter the most.
The same discipline used to follow budgets at work can be used for budgets at home.
Making a Budget Your Friend
Creating and staying on budget can empower you and help you feel in control of your earnings, your spending and your future. When you and your spouse/partner are in agreement about spending priorities and have shared goals, your relationship is likely to be more harmonious and less stressful.
What You Need to Know
You probably already have the skills needed to set and follow a budget. Use your common sense to create a budget that helps you. 
Actions to Consider
Draw upon your work experience with budgets.
Determine spending priorities with your spouse or partner.
Include dreams or goals to save toward together.
Include fun in your budget. Everyone needs some fun, even if your budget is tight. Having separate fun money for each spouse/partner (with no questions or accountability) provides a little freedom and independence for both of you.
Look for ways to reign in impulse spending and unnecessary expenses to fund your spending priorities.
Don’t spend more than you bring in. If you cannot cut your budget enough to live within your means, think of ways to earn extra money.
Start saving. Even small amounts saved consistently will grow into larger amounts.
Review your budget and finances periodically to see how you are doing. Seeing progress toward your goals will make  you proud of your accomplishment!
Reward yourself for staying on or under budget. Think of inexpensive or free ways to celebrate.
If you require counsel, contact a Menlo Park trusts and estates attorney today. 

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