Life brings on an immense amount of responsibilities. It can get ridiculously (really ridiculously) overwhelming when there are several payments, financial goals, and future events to prepare for. How to keep it all straight to ensure your finances are being taken care of? Let’s take it back to the 50’s with a little Dean Martin. I’m talking swingin’ to “Wham! Bam! Thank you M’am!” In this post, we’re going to cover a personal finance twist of M.A.M.:
Today I’m going to be covering Money Allocation Methods, and ways that you can build destinations for your money to reach your financial goals (with a bonus flow chart showing where to put money to work for all the visual learners out there, whoot whoot!). When reading about PF (personal finance), it’s empowering to hear that your finances are personal. What works for one person, surely will not work exactly the same for the other. If you are starting from square one to get your finances in tune (or continuing to strengthen your financial game plan), it’s great to get inspiration of how other people accomplish their financial goals. From there, you can take methods, tips, tricks, strategies, etc. in order to create the best personal finance game plan that’s tailored exactly to you.
Think about it as if your friend says “Hey man, want this shirt? It’s brought me lot’s of luck but I can’t fit into it anymore!“
-AKA your friend needs new money systems to fit his personal finances but wants to pass down his awesome financial wisdom to you.
You say “Sure!” and take the shirt gladly. You throw it on and realize it’s too big for you, but sincerely appreciate the fact that he passed it down to you. You think about ways you can shrink down the shirt by either throwing it in the wash, or waiting a little while until you grow into it more.
-AKA you’re taking your friends previous money systems with gratitude and figuring out a way to make it fit best to you, even if it means changing it from it’s original form. Or waiting for the right moments in the future to put it to use.
All of this is to say that one shirt size (financial game plan) does not fit at all. But you can always make something work best for you if you give it a shot! A little modification never hurt anybody.
So what’s the deal with Money Allocation Methods?
Each phase of life can bring several financial goals. For example, an ever-growing financial responsibility list may look a little something like this (in no particular order):
- Rent/mortgage payments
- Food costs
- Bills & utilities
- Student loan payments
- Future events (i.e. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.)
- Car payments
- Retirement allocations
- Emergency Fund
Depending on lifestyle choices this list can be spot on, or could be modified in one way, or another (aka why personal finance is personal)! Without systems in place, it can be mind-boggling to juggle money in just one destination (for example: one checking account). Temptations can arise to spend, when you had the initial goal to put some of that money towards savings.
Enter in Money Allocation Methods. Creating methods of putting your money towards certain goals will allow for more of seamless system to be in place (as a side note, automation works very well but I recognize manually putting money in place is more comfortable for some). That way, you don’t have to sit and crunch numbers from your checking account to make sure that all of your bills will be paid this month even if you decide to go on a quick weekend trip to the coast with some friends. I want you to feel less stress when handling your money to spend more time on the things you love.
Example Flow Chart of Money Allocation
Now you may be wondering, where can I allocate my money to take care of all my financial priorities? Maybe you’ve made an extra lump sum of cash and would rather put it to work rather than spending it. Maybe you’ve received a promotion and a raise entails more dollars each month. Here is an example of different money destinations providing examples of how to choose where you’re going to put that money to work! Refer to hypothetical list of expenses above to also follow along.
Think of your main checking account as the hub of all your personal finance activity. This can be your financial “base.” Kind of like when we all used to play capture the flag as kids (anyone up for playing a huge game soon)?! Think of this base as your go-to location where your income is deposited into. All additional goals aside, you know there are certain financial obligations you must pay month to month. Those particular financial obligations can also come from the following hub (it is important to recognize your realized/take home income from month to month, this will help for cash inflow and outflow – refer to my post on budgets if you would like some guidance). Try to keep the amount you owe per month (and a bit more potentially for a buffer) in this hub. This will prevent you from withdrawing your account.
Have a future wedding to attend? Want to make sure you can fly home for a celebration with your family? Want to attend that music festival over the weekend with some friends? Start saving early! When you put aside money to a separate place for those short term rewards & future events, you end up reducing the risk of not having enough allocated for your monthly financial obligations. Also, setting aside money for these certain life events gives you an actual picture of the tangible amount you have available to spend (that isn’t supposed to go towards say paying your monthly water bill).
Emergency funds are key when it comes to meeting financial obligations. You can build a healthy relationship with credit cards, but it can turn detrimental very quickly if you have to rely on them in emergency situations. Utilize a savings account to allocate money for those emergency situations. It allows you quick access to withdraw the cash, and less risk of losing any money by investing it. A great reference point is to have at least 1 month worth of expenses saved up for emergencies, but it’s always great to surpass for those just in case moments. Attempt not to dip into these savings unless the situation certainly calls for it. Remember: an emergency doesn’t have to be dire either. This type of savings can also be for a situation where you’re in between jobs, or working hard to gain new clients.
Ah yes, the glory days of retirement. Whether your goal is to retire at 35, or later in life you should consider setting up a form of account to accomplish your retirement savings goals. Set up deposits from your paycheck to your 401(k) with your employer, or deposit to a Roth/Traditional IRA through financial institutions. Received a tax refund? Deposit it here and have your future self thank you later! Take advantage of compound interest with opportunities to invest & grow your money.
Taking on any additional forms of investing will depend on your risk tolerance. A lot of people would rather keep “cash under the mattress” rather than partaking in any form of investing. Inflation will occur, and the power of your dollar now will not hold as much power in the future unless you provide the opportunity for it to grow (for just one simple example, think about how much a movie cost while you were a child compared to now – it ain’t so cheap anymore)!
The following flow chart above is just one example of how to create Money Allocation Methods. Seem like too many accounts/places to hold your money? Once the initial set up is done, you’ll put yourself at ease recognizing that the money you allocated is being put to work with minimal involvement & hassle. Let’s create that confidence that will get us all singing “Wham! Bam! Thank you, M.A.M.!” We’ll be singing this tune because our allocation methods have us feeling financially empowered to take on the everyday/monthly expenses, our short term goals, and our future! How great is that?
What type of Money Allocation Methods do you have in place? How do you plan to allocate your money to reach your financial goals? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Wham! Bam! Thank you for reading!