Personal Budget Planner
A very successful person needs a personal budget planner in order to handle his expenses, income, taxes and contingencies that will inevitably be a part of someone's life. The old adage of failing to plan means planning to fail cannot be overly exaggerated when it comes to money management. Money is like mercury; it's very difficult to hold in one's hands. The green stuff wends its way through the bank and out the backdoor and often a person ends up wondering where in the world did it all go? Without a budget, a person can end up buying half the grocery store, and without a monthly and yearly budget, a person will often stand knee deep in credit trying to make up for cash shortfalls. Parents have warned, the business class in high school had all students fill one out, and the incessant little voice in our head has told us over and over that we need a budget plan.
A personal planner can be a notebook a person devises for himself, a software program that can be downloaded, and a friend who is pretty good at managing money or an actual professional personal budget planner. Adherence is a funny word; it means to stick to or more poetically means loyalty or obedience. A budget begs, pleads and even demands that it be obeyed. A budget, to be successful, must not be viewed merely like an out of bounds marker in golf that can often be ignored if a person "really isn't keeping score." The budget must be viewed as an ironclad suit one must wear, especially if there has already been a flirtation with debt default, or if a person accepts the fact that discipline is not a strong suit.
Let's look at three different people, each approaching money in a different way. The first is none other than Scrooge himself. This man is tighter than a lid on a pickle jar. Since he knows better the man won't do it, but if it could be made safe, Scrooge would sleep with money under the mattress. Scrooge is so meticulous with money that every stick of gum is written down as an expenditure. He has no need for a contingency account because he has already thought of everything. For a personal planner the man uses an Excel spreadsheet specially designed by him that has a place for everything from napkins to shoe polish.
With his discipline already intact, Scrooge's money planning is straightforward and direct. But for our next example, a young college student who can't seem to handle her allowance from her parents every month, the need is for documentation in a semi-informal manner. After talking with a close friend about expenditure planning, the young woman decided to use a general ledger sheet to keep track of all expenses. Her personal budget planner became a small pocket size spiral notebook in which the woman accounted for very frou-frou coffee, every meal out, every tube of lipstick and every movie ticket bought. Having to write everything down helped her to realize that her money was flying out the door faster than convicts on a jailbreak. This method of recording the tiniest of expenses allows a person to not only be aware of the pattern of random spending, but to also begin to plan a workable expenditure plan that includes saying the word "no."
The third example is a thirty eight year old divorced man who is driving himself into certain bankruptcy because of unimpeded spending. For several years the man had been in a state of denial, but finally came to the realization that a disaster was soon to unfold. The credit card debt was now reaching sixty percent of monthly income and food was becoming the last item on the list of priorities. An Excel spreadsheet or a pocket notebook was not what he needed. What he needed was a flesh and blood personal budget planner that would lean on him until he yelled uncle. If a person is going to argue with his personal budget planner, there is not much hope so that was made very clear to the man at the beginning of the process.
In this man's case the debt was so high that the personal budget planner suggested the service of a debt counseling service. This agency would be able to negotiate credit card monthly payments down to about fifty percent of the original payments. This would give the man about one thousand dollars a month with which the personal budget planner could work. It would be within that framework that the man would begin his financial comeback. The budget advisor was a former banker who had been looking for a ministry opportunity. The banker made a commitment to meet with this man twice a week for three months and call him every day so the man could report daily expenditures. Jesus said Christians need to care for others when He said, "This is my greatest commandment that ye love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
In these first three months, the personal budget planner was on this man like green on broccoli. Despite the rule, there were some arguments about how much money was allowed to be spent in each line item of the expenditure sheet. But the banker was committed to the man's recovery and brushed off the man's anger. The man was held accountable each day to spend no more than the daily allowance permitted for each expense. Two slices only of pizza for lunch, the tank of gas had to last all week or a taxi would be called which came out of the food allotment. Brutal, demanding and loving was the banker's service to the man. In all three of these cases, success was found because of accountability and adherence to a personal spending plan.
Personal Finance AdvisorChoosing a personal finance advisor can be one of the most important decisions a person can make when it comes to successfully navigating the heavy waters of today's economic times. The effective personal finance advisor will be an instructor, guide, encourager and gate keeper that will keep watch over one's financial progress long after the initial program has been launched. The relationship between client and expert must be a workable and even pleasant one, but must also contain the elements of honesty and frankness to best serve the customer. Most people would prefer the twenty year experience of a cardiologist over a third year resident, but some know that the resident is aware of all the latest trends and techniques for successful treatment and would prefer her skills. Balancing the two is the real secret, and holds true even among money manager experts.
The hardened business person may prefer that his personal finance advisor be such a no nonsense type that a dour personality is a welcome part of the overall package, but many people want a personable persona with whom to converse about often very dry financial issues. Since trusting someone with one's own hard earned money is key, the word relationship comes to mind regarding the interaction between client and professional. If a person is on a ledge a thousand feet above the ground and someone throws down a rope to save him, he wants that rope bearer to be a combination of his mother and Superman. Caring and ability are fundamental to any working business agreement and the personal finance advisor-client relationship is no different. But don't downplay ability by any means.
The personal finance advisor ought to have a healthy pedigree to match that comforting personality. A lot of people can just throw out the title "financial planner" but what in the world gives them the right to do so? Putting up the shingle that reads brain surgeon doesn't change what a tree surgeon is. And the vetting process to find the right fiscal coach not only needs to include asking for references but also to ask what training someone has had to for such a career. The financial planner gig has been so financially rewarding that it has become a popular second job for many persons after receiving some training from large financial corporations. But trusting one's hard earned money to a shoe salesman/ten hour a week financial planner may not be too comforting in the long run. While these are end all training pedigrees, a bachelors in banking finance or accounting, a Master's in Business Administration or other related educational background along with specific advisor training may be a little more in line with someone's ability to handle money management guidance with integrity.
Should a personal financial advisor not be able to provide strong references for past work, a red flag should arise in the potential client's mind. Questions to ask the references might include how honest was the advisor in disclosing all information, where promises made that were not kept, how closely did the manager listen to the desires of the client and did it appear that a selling a pre-set package was more important to the manager than crafting a personalized plan for the client? Additionally, the potential client can check with the National Association of Securities Dealers and local and state insurance and securities boards to ascertain if a potential advisor has been disciplined for any reason.
A fully certified personal finance advisor could offer services in insurance, mutual funds and stocks. Each of these areas does require certain licensures. Someone who can only offer her company's line of products may be limited in how much of a wide range of options are actually available. Checking with a financial legal attorney to ascertain who might meet such all encompassing certifications might be helpful. The type of certifications may also decide how a personal finance advisor is paid. Jesus made it very clear that living forever is contingent on knowing God. "And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, who thou hast sent." (John 17:1)
In the case of the advisor who represents one certain enterprise such as an insurance company, the most common payment is a commission that will be included in the price of the products sold to the client. With the fully certified personal finance advisor, it may be more likely that a client may be billed by the hour. This manager will probably bill for the time it takes looking into the most relevant products and plans for the client's particular financial needs. In this case, an hourly rate will likely be charged. The likely scenario would be that a less financially endowed customer would associate with a packaged advisor while wealthier clients would take advantage of a more diversified approach.
Like so many other professions, a person can find a great advisor, a mediocre one or a scoundrel. Do the homework it takes to choose the right one. If a couple is doing this, let her drink in all of the signals and atmosphere that will certainly appear at the interview process. She can intuitively pick up on nuances a guy would never spot. After all, this may involve a lot of money that has taken a while to earn and every concern needs to be addressed before plunging. A world of growing uncertainty demands such caution along with a true sense of what is ultimately important. Remembering that a hearse never pulls a U-Haul loaded with the deceased's possessions is just as important as living a life that the people loaded in the car right after the hearse will always honor.