Tracking of cash flow dates back more than 3,000 years. Before currency existed, people would use cattle, grains, silver or other items of value as trade. These transactions, tracked on tablets or sometimes counting tokens, were used as a tool to track financial dealings. This tells us that managing trade or cash flow has been around for decades and is a critical factor when it comes to managing finances. Some important elements are creating a budget, emergency fund planning, debt management and savings strategies.
When it comes to planning for future goals, a budget can be a very useful guide to help reach financial success. A budget helps project future cash flow needs and can be a great tool to assist with preventing financial problems and increasing net worth.
Before putting a budget together, one will need to gather data on past spending and income. The budgeting process should include: estimating income, estimate of spending, and planning for savings. Begin by putting a preliminary budget in place which will include goals and priorities for each goal. Track these goals on a regular basis and make necessary changes when needed.
One of the top priorities of a budget is having an emergency fund. This is critical and is often overlooked. Many planners recommend having at least three to six months of expenses, but with the increased cost of goods and services today, many feel that six to nine months is best. Expenses should include fixed cost and variable cost. Emergency funds should be in a high liquid type of account, such as a savings or money market account.
Debt management has become a very challenging issue today. Hopefully, with the degree of issues we’ve seen in the last few years, people will see the importance of managing their debt closely.
Three common rules of debt management are: total monthly debt should not exceed 36 percent of gross income, mortgage payments should not exceed 28 percent of gross income, and consumer debt should not exceed 20 percent of gross income.
In our fast-paced society and with the current availability of credit, it can be difficult to stay within these parameters. However, using these rules as a guide and implementing them can help us get back to managing our debt within a reasonable level. Financial debt will eventually catch up to us, but before it does, we can take responsibility now to control it before it controls us.
Many people who begin to think about saving usually consider it only when they have excess or residual income. Saving should be planned as part of a budget sooner than later, not just when it’s convenient. Delaying saving usually ends up never happening or may be too late to be beneficial. At a minimum, it is recommended to save five to 10 percent of income annually. I also suggest to increasing the saving percentage every year; this will help keep up with inflation and allow investors to get a head of the saving game.
These are important factors and planning tools that can help with implementing or adjusting a financial plan and managing cash flow. The earlier an individual, household or business can start, the more likely for success.
This information was prepared by Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates, Inc. and is for educational information only. The opinions/views expressed within are that of Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. and do not necessarily reflect those of ING Financial Partners or its representatives. In addition, they are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Neither ING Financial Partners nor its representatives provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your financial professional, attorney, accountant or tax advisor regarding your individual situation prior to making any investment decisions.