Annual Budgets are critical for ongoing financial success. They are the bridge between goals and reality. Take advantage of the Holiday Season, and start thinking about the New Year. Use your Annual Budget to anchor and control your path toward your goals. What will you accomplish?
Employ an Annual Budget to Stay on-track and Avoid Surprises
Annual Budgets are great, and in my opinion, they are essential for any degree of financial success. When used properly, they keep us focused and honest. They are a measure of what we plan to do and what we actually end up doing with our finances.
From the “top-down,” Annual Budgets should reconcile with the monthly budget process. There should be accountability between monthly and annual budgets. For example, Monthly Budgets are important, but they can fluctuate depending on the financial activity of the period. Making sure they agree with the Annual Budget brings it all together, and links it with your goals.
1. Use an Annual Budget to help Avoid Surprise and Manage Expenses.
Propane, Property Taxes, and Annual subscription can all be ‘forgotten’ to a degree, and they can pile-up on one month straining cash flow. From an annual perspective, you can allocate those costs across the full year to spread the impact accordingly.
For example, we estimate our personal property tax bill and save a little towards that each month. Additionally, our propane bill (about $1200) is due annually, and we try to save towards that each month. Nothing like coming up with $1200 all at once!
2. Maximize the Christmas Season Cheer with an Annual Budget!
You can use the Annual Budget to prepare for fun stuff, too. The concept is similar for the expenses we mentioned previously, but I like buying gifts more than I like paying bills 🙂
Figure out what your estimated holiday costs are and spread that out accordingly. Not only does it help get ahead with the shopping, but you’ll also find a dramatic reduction in financial stress. Win-Win!
3. Enhance the quality of your Vacations with an effective Annual Budget.
This is another great way to plan ahead. Estimate your costs, or at least get close, and then divide it out. I find this helps keep the budget in-line as well as the amount we ended up spending on vacation. The costs for a vacation can be contained much easier when looking at it from a high level.
4. Emergency Funds, and Savings Goals, Side-Gigs… All courtesy of the Annual Budget.
Use the Annual Budget to meet your Emergency Fund goals. Start small, and you’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes a reality. In the same way, and after your Emergency Fund is established, start putting money aside for various investing or savings goals as well. Thinking about starting your own business or side-gig? Use the annual budget to start putting money away each month as you march towards your goals.
5. Annual Budgets for your Kids: College, and Weddings.
We have little ones at home now, and the thought of them ever leaving for college and getting married seems like a future event that will never happen. It just seems “so far away” that we forget to save for what will be a significant financial event.
College can be very expensive, and saving a little each month for each child adds up over the years. Don’t feel like you need to “pay for it all,” and start small. Chip away where you can. Side-Note: I think there is a lot to be said for good grades and strong parenting along the way as well, and there are often scholarships and grants available for outstanding students, etc. The point being – don’t stress, just keep college in mind.
Weddings should be some of the happiest and most celebrated days in one’s life. Why not make the effort today and save a little towards that future event? Taking some financial strain off the table will make it even more special and less stressful.
6. Student Loans…
I have student loans, and use my Annual Budget both as an initial commitment to what I will pay-off each month as well as an accountability tool for myself. (Planning is one thing, and actually executing that plan can be something different entirely).
Student Loans can be a bit of a black hole with no end in sight. Use the Annual Budget to stay positive and track your progress!
7. Loans and Debt Repayment
Thinking about being debt-free? Use the annual budget to attach all non-mortgage debt, like credit cards, personal loans, and auto loans. Track progress, and look for opportunities to pay a little more each month. They’ll melt away quicker, and you’ll be encouraged by the progress.
From there, use the same process to start saving cash for the next vehicle or household project! This time, you’ll be self-funded instead of needed a loan. Congrats!
8. I spent how much?! Use Annual Budgeting to realize how expensive some things are.
If you need a reason to get fired up, take a look at those cell phone bills, and paid subscriptions each month. Now, multiply that out to a year. That’s a LOT of money!
In many cases, my wife and I quickly realized that we did not get at least an equal value of entertainment or utility for the annual costs associated with almost all subscription-based services. From there we started hacking and slashing…
Ultimately, we saved hundreds of dollars over the year by trimming out the monthly costs!
9. Retirement Planning.
I wanted to be sure and talk about Retirement. This list is not ordered by importance, and in some ways, I’m saving the best for last. Depending on where you are in your Personal Finance Journey, retirement is that giant on the horizon line, the towering silhouette you can barely see… for now. Or, it can feel like a ton of bricks bearing down on your shoulders.
Regardless, a very powerful tool is this Annual Budget. By carefully controlling and monitoring expenses you’ll be able to funnel and direct your income accordingly. Strip-out needless or less-beneficial expenses and put it towards Retirement. Focus the laser a little more each time, iteratively working each year closer towards your goal.
10. HSA (Health Savings Account).
I think the HSA is one of the best savings tools out there. The triple benefit, if used properly, is a show-stopping financial force for good. If you can max-out your annual contribution I think it is a worthwhile exercise (to say the least). It benefits you now, and it benefits you in retirement. (Just make sure you abide by the rules set forth by the IRS on what qualifies, etc.).
I hope this post brings a few ideas to mind, and that it encourages you for what lies ahead. Aim high, fight hard and keep developing Mêtis in your Money Matters. Best of luck to you, my friend!
Here are a few more posts that might interest you:
- Passive Income Aggressive Retirement: The Secret to Freedom, Flexibility, and Financial Independence | My Honest Review
- Bettering Your Budget
- Establishing an Emergency Fund
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