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How to budget money like a financial planner

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 11 Jan 2021

<p><em><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5cb79c0a207d46070e372014-1742/gettyimages-922710668.jpg" border="0" alt="woman content happy" data-mce-source="Caiaimage/Paul Bradbur/Getty"></em></p><bi-shortcode id="disclaimer" class="mceNonEditable" data-type="pfi">&nbsp;</bi-shortcode><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><ul class="summary-list"><li>If you're looking for an easy way to budget your money, financial planners recommend "bucketing."</li><li>Separating cash into different "buckets" for specific purposes<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/retirement-advice-that-no-longer-works-2019-4">retirement</a>, travel, or an <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/online-savings-account-high-yield-emergency-fund-2019-1">emergency fund</a>allows you to clearly see how much is going toward each goal.</li><li>Setting up <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-automate-your-savings">automatic</a> contributions can make funding each bucket, or account, virtually effortless.</li><li><a href="https://smartasset.com/retirement/find-a-financial-planner'utm_source=businessinsider&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=bus__falc_bicontent&amp;utm_content=bipfi_personal-finance/manage-money-differently-financial-planner-2021-1&amp;cid=1610381553523airwmtbwy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">SmartAsset's free tool can help you find a licensed professional financial advisor near you </a></li></ul><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/save-money-without-budget-2019-4">Budgeting</a> shouldn't be scary.</p><p>It's just a decidedly unfashionable term for organizing your money in a way that helps you cover expenses, avoid consumer debt, and save a portion of your income to fund whatever goals you're working toward.</p><p>To make it all less confusing to keep track of, three financial planners told Business Insider they use a method called "bucketing."</p><h2>How to budget money like a financial planner</h2><h3>1. Make a list of your fixed expenses</h3><p>Luis Rosa, a CFP who founded the financial-planning firm <a href="https://buildabetterfinancialfuture.com/">Build a Better Financial Future</a>, said you can start off by making a list of your fixed expenses, including housing costs and other recurring monthly payments, and variable expenses. Rosa suggests including savings in your expenses column.</p><h3>2. Separate your savings goals into different accounts</h3><p>Next, put "goal-specific money"think: funds for a vacation, wedding, or down payment on a housein various "buckets," Rosa said.&nbsp;"By breaking them up into different accounts or buckets, you get to keep better track than if you lump all the money together."</p><p>These accounts can be held at the same bank<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-open-ally-high-yield-savings-account">Ally</a> makes it easy to open up new accounts and label them with different savings goalsor even separate banks, to keep temptation to spend to a minimum.</p><h3>3. Calculate how much you can afford to put toward each savings goal</h3><p>After separate accounts are set up, decide how much you can afford to contribute monthly to each goal. Remember: Think of savings, at least for your highest-priority goals, as an expense, even if it's just $10 a month.</p><p>Andrew Westlin, a CFP at Betterment, said bucketing money into different accounts helps him "clearly see what portion of my assets will be used for each objectivemy <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/where-to-keep-emergency-fund">emergency fund</a>, retirement, and money set aside for a sabbatical in a few years."</p><p>Westlin added: "I'm not an obsessive planner, so I even like to put extra money each month into a 'just because' bucketI could use it for anything, and that freedom is exciting for me."</p><p><em><strong>Need help managing your money' <a href="https://smartasset.com/retirement/find-a-financial-planner'utm_source=businessinsider&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=bus__falc_bicontent&amp;utm_content=bipfi_personal-finance/manage-money-differently-financial-planner-2021-1&amp;cid=1610381553523airwmtbwy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">SmartAsset's free tool can help find a licensed financial advisor near you </a></strong></em></p><h3>4. Set up automatic contributions</h3><p>Take the effort out of saving entirely and set up automatic contributions, whether through your payroll direct deposit or from your checking account.</p><p>There's something to be said for separating savings into a different bank account, or even several, and saving automatically. <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/double-savings-easy-automatic-ally-bank-2019-1">I opened an Ally account a few years ago</a> with a small initial deposit strictly to build up my emergency fund. After a year of automatic contributions, my account balance nearly doubled. Since my checking account lives at a different bank, I was rarely tempted to dip into my emergency fund, and it just kept growing. Out of sight, out of mind.</p><p>Anjali Jariwala, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant at <a href="https://fitadvisors.com/">Fit Advisors</a>, told Business Insider she also sets up automatic monthly contributions to different "cash buckets," either a checking or high-yield savings accounts, to fund different goals.</p><h3>5. Track your progress</h3><p>Rosa said he likes bucketing because it makes tracking savings progress even easier.</p><p>"This also helps with the motivational aspect of staying the course," Rosa said. "Some days when you ask yourself 'Why am I working so hard'' you can see how much progress you've made toward a future goal and it reinforces the behavior. You're more likely to stick to your goals if you can track its progress."</p><bi-shortcode id="related-content-module" class="mceNonEditable" data-type="more-financial-planner-coverage" data-sheetname="More Financial Planner Coverage">Related Content Module: More Financial Planner Coverage</bi-shortcode><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/how-to-budget-money#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-travel-during-coronavirus-outbreak-planes-airports-virus-2020-3">Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak</a></p>
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