It all be­gins with draw­ing up a bud­get …

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPUZZLES -

A bud­get is the cor­ner­stone of your fi­nan­cial plan, and the de­ci­sions you make daily de­ter­mine your fi­nan­cial des­tiny, says Natasja Hart, an award­win­ning fi­nan­cial plan­ner and the wealth man­ager at GCI Wealth.

You need to bud­get to save and in­vest, Hart says. “Sav­ing and in­vest­ing amount to pay­ing your­self first, but peo­ple don’t think of it that way. When I ask clients what the first line item on their bud­get is, most peo­ple say ‘bond re­pay­ments’.”

Al­though a home is an in­vest­ment, she sug­gests to her clients that they put sav­ing for a short-term goal, or a small sav­ing as a re­ward for bud­get­ing, as the first ex­pense on their bud­get. “It’s psy­cho­log­i­cal: if you don’t pay your­self first, you can feel neg­a­tive about your bud­get,” she says.

Hart tells of how she helped a client over­come her neg­a­tiv­ity about bud­get­ing. “My client felt very over­whelmed by her fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion when she came to see me for the first time. She felt par­tic­u­larly guilty about what she spends on cof­fee ev­ery day. She didn’t want to give up her daily cof­fee, so we made it the num­ber one item on her bud­get and made it her re­ward to her­self for stick­ing to the bud­get. I knew she was go­ing to spend that money any­way, and there was no point in her feel­ing guilty about it,” Hart says. What was more im­por­tant was that she had a bud­get and stuck to it.

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