Call Our Offices
Your Money.
Your Life.
Your Way.
article
Focusing on Your Finances
Shared by Strong Valley on March 16, 2021
Focusing on Your Finances
Image of a stop watch for the in-brief section heading
IN BRIEF
Here's a quick look at what's in this article:

While most people find the notion of creating a budget about as appealing as cleaning out closets, most would agree that the result – a well-crafted and useful budget – is worth the work.  Each year, strive to increase your net worth and keep your expenditures under control. This article gives you a couple of easy to create budget tools that demonstrate where you are today and can help you make important financial comparisons in the future.

Important Disclosure: Content on our website and in our newsletters is for informational purposes only. The information provided may (or may not) directly apply to your situation. We recommend that readers work directly with a professional advisor when making decisions in the context of their specific situation.

While most people find the notion of creating a budget about as appealing as cleaning out closets, most would agree that the result—a well-crafted and useful budget—is worth the work.

Two financial “snapshots” you can take at any time to help view your financial landscape are a balance sheet (or net worth statement) and a cash flow statement. These tools demonstrate where you are today, and they can also help you make important financial comparisons in the future. Although various software programs are designed to help with budgeting, it can be easy and helpful to create your own worksheets on paper.

Assessing Your Net Worth

To create a balance sheet, simply draw a line down the center of a blank piece of paper. Label one column “Assets” and the other column “Liabilities.” Assets are everything you own, and liabilities are everything you owe.

You can add structure by grouping your assets into three categories:

  1. cash or cash alternatives — checking and savings accounts, money market funds, and certificates of deposit (CDs);
  2. investments — stocks, bonds, mutual fund accounts, and retirement accounts; and
  3. personal property — your house, home furnishings, autos, boats, and other personal items.

Liabilities can be labeled as follows:

  1. short-term — auto loans, most personal loans, and credit card debt; or
  2. long-term — home mortgages, some home equity loans, and some educational loans.

Enter all of the relevant numbers and add up the two columns. We’ll examine the outcome later.

How Fluid Is Your Cash Flow?

Next, create a cash flow statement. Draw a line down the center of another blank sheet of paper, and label one column “Cash Inflow” and the other “Cash Outflow.”

On the inflow side of the ledger, list monthly or yearly income from all sources, such as wages, self-employment, rental properties, and investment income (interest and dividends).

On the outflow side, list all monthly or yearly expenditures, separating fixed expenses (mortgage payments, other periodic loan payments, and insurance premiums) and variable or discretionary expenses (utilities, food, clothing, entertainment, vacations, hobbies, and personal care). You may choose to put taxes (Federal, state, FICA) in a separate category. Again, fill in the relevant numbers and total the columns.

The Results

If your balance sheet shows your assets exceeding your liabilities, you have a healthy net worth, especially if your cash flow statement shows more inflow than outflow. This picture shows that you are solvent and spending within your means. The degree of your financial health depends on the amount of your surplus.

Your financial picture may look somewhat different if your balance sheet shows your liabilities exceeding your assets and/or your cash flow statement shows more outflow than inflow. This indicates that you are spending beyond your means. It may be time to assess areas in which you can decrease your liabilities.

Each year, strive to increase your net worth and keep your expenditures under control. If your financial picture is a little out of focus, taking action now to sharpen the view may help you create a more promising snapshot in the future.

The information contained within is believed to be from reliable sources. However, its accurateness, completeness, and the opinions based thereon by the author are not guaranteed – no responsibility is assumed for omissions or errors. The views expressed herein reflect our judgment now and are subject to change without notice and may or may not be updated. Nothing in this document should be construed as investment, tax, financial, accounting, or legal advice. Each prospective investor must make their own evaluation and investigation of any investments considered or of any investment strategies described herein (including the risks and merits thereof), should seek professional advice for their particular circumstances, and should inform themselves as to the tax or other consequences of any investments or services considered or described herein. Please see other important disclosures related to StrongValley.com

Your turn – What would you like to know about Focusing on Your Finances?

Strong Valley wants to provide useful and meaningful information to our clients, to our professional network, and to the broader community of people we serve. We’d love to hear your questions about Focusing on Your Finances or about any other topics you care about. You can call our office directly, or use the contact form below to send us your questions and/or suggestions.  And if you found the information helpful or entertaining, we hope you'll share the Strong Valley story with others.

We love to hear your questions, ideas, and feedback!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Copyright © 2019 Strong Valley Wealth & Pension, LLC
Investment advisory services offered through Laurel Wealth Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Securities offered through Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. The information on this website has not been approved or verified by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or by any state securities authority; registration as an Investment Adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Please refer to “Important Disclosures & Disclaimers” for additional details. Strong Valley Wealth & Pension, LLC offers some securities through M.S. Howells & Co. Member FINRA/SIPC. M.S. Howells & Co. is not affiliated with Strong Valley Wealth & Pension.