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Budget Builder Tool
Purpose Of The Tool
The budget builder is, as the name implies, first designed to assist you in putting together a budget plan. It uses a budget template as the pattern so that you can easily build similar, yet different budgets. This feature allows you to easily posit different budget situations and see how the results differ. It also makes the budget builder tool more versatile since you can put together a template for your household budget, your business's budget, or for any organization you belong to, e.g., homeowner's association, church, etc. Finally, if you are facing a major, complex project the budget builder tool can be utilized for that, too. Simply build a budget template based upon what you have seen in earlier, similar projects or upon what you expect to see in this project. Always remember that you can add new items to the template if it becomes necessary and these can then be carried forward into the budget plan itself.
Just so you'll follow what we're saying, let's use a couple of budget template examples to illustrate. Consider the most common budget need--a household budget. Now, let's say there is a weekly paycheck and we'll make it a nice, round number: $1,000 per week. This becomes a template item. We can call it "My Weekly Paycheck" and it is an "Income" item of "Weekly" frequency--nothing very complicated or hard to understand about that...right? Now, let's say your monthly mortgage payment is $1,100 per week. This also becomes a template item. We can call it simply "House payment" and it is definitely an "expense" item and its frequency is "monthly." Again, you see there's nothing difficult or complicated about it. Other such template items will need to be enteredd for all your income and expense items. In addition, let's say you you're smart enough to always save $50 out of each paycheck at your friendly credit union. Since it comes out of the income you've enteredd, this is also a template item. We can call it simply "Weekly savings" of type "Saving" and with a "weekly" frequency...it's as simple as any of the other items. Just note that anything that takes away from the "income" items, even if it's being saved, constitutes a budget template item.
You may have already figured out that the hardest part of making a budget is going to be putting together all those nasty figures...for example, how much are you spending on groceries per time period? How much did you pay for property taxes last year and how much is that going to change this year? Car tags...ditto? Etc. Always remember that the more accurate your figures are, the more accurate your budget will be. Hence, you'll want and need to do as good a job as possible.
that while you're building the template, you won't enter the actual amount for the budget...that comes next. Keep a list of the amounts on a scratch paper to the side as you go.
Once you've built your template, you'll use the items in the template to add budget items' amounts. Remember, that you can run different "casts" of a given budget where "casts" include different budget items. As an example, let's say you're thinking of purchasing a new car and you've built a first cast of the budget with no car payment in it. Now you find that the car of your dreams can be purchased for a mere $1,250/month payment. You also find that your car insurance will cost you $1,300 annually. So, you put a new template item into your budget template: "Monthly" "car payment"--definitely an expense! You also include your car insurance in the template as an annual expense. You put the $1,250 amount and the $1,300 amount into the budget and generate a new cast which shows you can't handle that large a payment and insurance--you'll go in the hole by $150 each month even if you stop saving $50/week. Ouch! But your old vehicle is shot and you really need to get another one, so you shop around for a two-year-old version of your dream car and you find that you can get it for $900/month. Because this car is a bit older, your insurance drops to $1,100 per year. Now you build a new cast and see these payments' effects. Since you really only have to change two amounts from the previous cast, you can do this in seconds.
OK, so now we've described what the template is all about and how we can cast and re-cast our budget. When we view the budget, it will assume you're building a household budget and it will also give you some pointers dealing with personal finances. (You can see a sample below.) The intent is to help you get a handle on how much money you need to have put aside for retirement, how much life insurance you should have, etc. Please, notice, that this is only a first gloss on these questions. You definitely want to speak with a financial expert about it. Still, you'll find it's a good thing to question any vastly different advice they give you, especially if they're selling you a product that costs a great deal more. (It could be they're simply trying to make enough for a cruise to the Caribbean rather than trying to help you. Also, know that the "RIA" certification/title is often of questionable value and you should not place too much value on it.)
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Start The Tool
On the opening screen or "WELCOME" tab, go to the "VIEW" menu, then select the option to "Build A Budget." When this configuration option is selected, you will see an image something like the one shown here:
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