My Wallet Seems Thin
Dear Clients & Friends,
This week’s topic may appear to be geared towards the children of our clients, such as young professionals and those with young families of their own. However, this topic is just as applicable for those who are charitably minded, which describes nearly everyone in our family of clientele.
Have you ever wondered why you consistently spend more money than you had planned? Have you ever wondered why your lifestyle seems to cost more than it rationally should? After 22 years of managing wealth, I can tell you that the reason is fairly obvious when you sit in my chair. Whether or not the numerical difference is large or more modest, the same effect seems prevalent regardless of where an individual resides on the socioeconomic spectrum.
All clients are asked to complete a budget worksheet every few years. “Budgeting” is not only for people who have a tight cash flow. The definition of a budget is “the sum of money allocated for a particular purpose, and a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures.” It doesn’t matter whether a family spends $500,000 per year or $50,000. A properly executed financial plan includes data related to one’s resources and one’s expenses.
When we ask clients to complete our worksheet, there seems to be an inevitable and consistent discrepancy between the planned budget and their actual cash flow. Why is that? Well, as they say, “It’s the smaller things in life that really matter.” Yet, it’s also the smaller things in life that aren’t planned for.
If I were to ask you, the reader, to guestimate your spending habits, you would likely think of the obvious elements- mortgage, condo fees, real estate taxes, utilities, healthcare, college or private school tuition, car payments if you have them, etc. However, there are two categories of expenses that are consistently not recalled when making a budget - 1) the smaller things in life, and 2) the infrequent things in life.
Let’s assume that you leave the office every day to eat lunch at a deli and spend $15 between a sandwich, soda, and chips. With roughly 250 workdays per year, this equates to $3,750 per year. Let’s say that you stop for a cappuccino most mornings and occasionally on the weekend. That’s another $912. How about going to the movies once per month as a family of four? These days, when including popcorn and a laughably large keg of soda to boot, this would cost a solid $500 per year. While people do tend to account for “dining” when making a budget, they do not account for “going out for drinks” every now and again. This is an easy $100-200 per occurrence, which is another $1,200-2,400 per year.
Let’s now account for the less frequent things in life. Every home requires a new roof every 20 years or so, which may cost as much as $20,000-30,000. This means that, using proper planning technique, we need to add $1,500 per year to the “annual” budget in order to properly account for this future expense. This is because a long-term financial plan doesn’t account for just one year, but for long chapters in one’s life. Thus, a roof costs about $1,500 per year on average. Same thing goes for painting your home: about $20,000 every 15 years, or $1,300 per year.
Folks, break out your calculators. The examples that I just gave increase one’s expenses by $10,362 per year - but more often than not, these expenses are not accounted for when considering a budget.
The lesson here is not to spend less, but to create an awareness that brings peace of mind rather than frustration. While the gurus here at MORWM usually catch these discrepancies, we automatically add 10-20% to the budget of new clients until we know them better and have a better handle on their actual cash flow.
However, there is a “spend wiser” lesson here as well. Rather than spending $4,662 on deli sandwiches and Starbucks cappuccinos, making sandwiches at home and drinking freshly brewed coffee at the office can statistically lower your consumption cost by 86%! Imagine if you had an extra $4,000 each year. For some of us, $4,000 is not a life-changing amount of money - but it’s still 4 grand! For a young family who is raising children, that’s a lot of dough. For others, imagine what we can do in the charity world with an extra $4,000 per year. BAM! (mic drop)
Short and sweet weekend reading.
Have a lovely weekend.
P.S. Everyone here at MORWM makes their own lunch in the office for free. Meats, cheeses, veggies, bread, and other lunch supplies lovingly provided Papa Ramer.
Matthew Ramer, AIF® Principal, Financial Advisor MOR Wealth Management, LLC
1801 Market Street, Suite 2435 Philadelphia, PA 19103 P: 267.930-8301 | c: 215-694-4784 | f: 267.284.4847 |
601 21st Street, Suite 300 Vero Beach, FL 32960 P: 772-453-2810
The majority of this content was written and distributed MOR Wealth Management, all rights reserved. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser. Fixed insurance products and services offered through CES Insurance Agency.