As we begin the month of June, it’s a great time to check out your financial scorecard for the year…so far. That is if you can stand the pain of looking at it. With five months now in the books, June is the perfect time to evaluate and re-evaluate what has happened to you financially this year and then to adjust where necessary so you can make 2022 the best possible year it can be. It’s a subject we all need to be on top of, but many of us never look at the numbers until it’s way too late to do anything about them.
Our Financial Scorecard Is Like a Business P&L
If you work for a business, you probably know what a P&L is (profit and loss statement) and what it means to the company. In simple terms, it’s the scorecard of their financial numbers and how the company is performing against the plan.
That’s exactly how we do our planning for the year and see how and where we are headed. Do we need to make any changes in our plan? What did we do that we could have done differently?
Usually, businesses publish those numbers to their management team monthly, and that is a good way to see in black and white how you are actually doing and why. There may be real legitimate reasons why some months are better than others and that should be planned accordingly.
It’s just like when a retail business plans sales and profits to be very high in November and December and not so good in January and February. Some numbers are very predictable and others are surprises. You want more predictability and fewer surprises as a general rule of thumb in planning.
Expenses and Income
Besides what you need to spend (and yes, some of what you want to spend), you need to plan your income from all sources to see your big money picture. How much will you be bringing in that you can plan to spend and save?
There’s a lot of talk so far this year about the fact that wages have been going up, and things like increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour is making a big impact on people. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see and hear that local businesses are paying $20-$25 an hour for part-time jobs at places like McDonalds and Target.
Yet a WTW survey of U.S. companies found employers now are budgeting and paying an overall average salary increase of just 3.4% in 2022, which is less than half the current inflation rate. The only good news from this fact is that it is a rise from the average 2021 wages paid last year. That is something, but for most, still not enough to keep up with the wild inflation rate which has hit over 8% this year.
It means that you are more than likely not achieving your financial goals for 2022 unless you planned to reduce spending for the year when you made your original plans. So it’s very important to see how you’re doing and revise your planning as needed.
Of course to create your financial scorecard, you need to not only have a plan, but to track your income and expenses. There are many ways to do it, and lots of software and apps to help. Find a way that works for you and stick with it. You may be shocked at what you find.
Pay Yourself First
As any personal finance blog will tell you, it’s a good idea to pay yourself first. What does that mean? It means saving money before you get to your expenses, so that you always have it available to save. You don’t want to get to the end of the month and find out there’s nothing left for your emergency fund, sinking funds, or savings accounts. In our case, we don’t budget all of our income to spend, so that difference is what goes into savings each month.
We Have 52 Lines in Our Expense Plan
Do 52 lines seem like a lot? They aren’t if you’re keeping a detailed record. We plan everything from our savings to our food expenses, from our gift and charity donations to our car repairs and everything in between. I have to laugh because every once in a while, there is a new expense that we just didn’t have a category for and we have to create one!
The Biggest Chunks of Our Expenses
For most of us, the things we spend our money on every month are pretty similar. There’s shelter of some sort, mortgages or rent. There’s food, both dining in and out. And there’s clothing we need to buy. Here’s how ours breaks out of the 100% that we plan and spend.
1. Health costs
Because of our various health issues (both my wife and I have quite a few issues), our number one expense is all of our medical costs and insurance we carry. That number represents 29.5% of our planned budget. The good news here is that so far for 2022, we have come in at 26.2%. That hopefully is due to some improvement in our health, but it could be just overestimating our planned expenses.
We live in a condo so that means a mortgage, HOA fees, and real estate taxes have to be paid. That is 27.9% of our planned expenses. Since they are 100% predictable, that’s exactly how they came in for the first five months of 2022.
The cost of dining in and dining out (well, take out food since our health leaves us wary of COVID) for us is planned at 10.9%. Remarkably, the number so far this year had come in slightly under, at 10.5%.
Since we as a couple both have tons of clothes (as I have told you many times, I own enough T-shirts to clothe the western hemisphere!), we don’t budget or spend much on clothing. The plan was 1.2% and we are right on that number so far this year.
Those four categories represent 69.5% of our planned expenses which so far this year total 65.8%.
Where Does the Rest Go?
There are more necessary and fairly predictable expenses and a big one are the utilities and our cable/internet/phone bills that are 8.0% of our costs.
There is the insurances we have for condo and life (dental and health are included in health costs) that run another 5.1%.
Next, there are the car costs of repairs, insurance, and gasoline of 2.5%. We have been over that because of the rise in gasoline prices and came in so far this year in this category at 2.8%.
We are fortunate that we have no car payment and we don’t commute so our gas prices aren’t as much as it might be if we did.
That leaves us discretionary spending of about 20% every month. We break it down on our financial scorecard to cover various types of discretionary spending.
Discretionary spending is a biggie when money is tight and you must cut expenses. That means travel and entertainment may have to be limited as well as other expenses like gym memberships and club memberships. It’s not a pleasant thought, but when inflation is crushing your unavoidable expenses, it’s an alternative way to make ends meet. More likely may be to change the way you spend on necessities like dining in more often which is less expensive then dining out, and limiting the way you spend in general to more necessary items.
When controlling expenses on your financial scorecard becomes too big of an ask for you, what are you left with? It’s the obvious answer. That is earn more and in more ways. Alternate streams of income from side hustles, part-time jobs, or any way you can legally think of will help. Perhaps the kids can earn some money for themselves and ease your burden as the parent. Whatever way you can do it, do it. It’s an obvious answer to a big budget question.
Now is the perfect time to “mark” your financial scorecard and see where you stand so far in 2022. There are so many reasons to be stressed about money these days, why not get a grip on where you are and revise your plan now before the year slips on by. You can do something now before it’s too late.
How are you handling inflation right now? Are your plans working? Do you have a plan? If not, do it now and save your 2022 finances!