Oops, or New Year Fiscal Fitness


One of our readers suggested more pictures and personal anecdotes, so here is an anecdote:

Last week Mr. and Mrs. No Surprises Retirement compared our actual spending to our proposed retirement budget.  Oops – there were a number of areas where we were way over budget!

The picture, below, is of me looking at the results of the comparison!


The good news is that we’re not retired yet, so we weren’t overspending our ‘real’ retirement spending plan.  There’s still time to tune and track better.

Fiscal fitness

The goal of No Surprises Retirement is helping you avoid bad retirement surprises.  One of the worst retirement surprises is overspending in the early years and then running out of money in the later years.  Almost every TV show now has a lot of fitness and weight loss advertising (like every late-December through early-January).  This post will help you with improving your fiscal fitness in 2018.

Corporations and non-profits are experts at fiscal fitness (at least the ones that stay in business are!) They use budgets, income statements, and balance sheets to manage their business.  We may talk about income statements and balance sheets in some later post, but for this post we’ll focus on the budget.  The key parts to budgetary fiscal fitness are:

Budget – know what you plan to spend monthly/annually (and that the spending fits within your income).

Tracking – track your spending to the budget and determine where there you are going under or over, and why. (In corporate speak, we call these ‘variances’.)

Adapting – adapt to variances by adjusting future spending.  For example, if you spent too much on medical because you went to the ER, you may need to cut out movies for the rest of your life a few months.

Just like the stretches you’ll do in the three times a week aerobics class that one month you go to the gym, budgeting is something you need to pay attention to frequently (at least bi-weekly) but unlike the gym, you need to do it all year.

Tools for you to manage your budget – spreadsheets

Since we had the budget surprise, I decided to upgrade our budget capability by finding a better spreadsheet than we are currently using.  I decided to stay with a spreadsheet because I don’t need all the features of a personal finance software package and don’t want to maintain my finances on a website. I also decided to download (and don’t forget to virus scan!) because apparently a billion people have already shared their budget spreadsheets  online and this way I could start without having to reinvent the spreadsheet the wheel!

As usual, Google helped out with the search and I ran across ‘the balance’.

There are a number of budget spreadsheets reviewed and linked to on ‘the balance’ site, so you’ll probably find one to use and like.

I liked a couple:

It’s Your Money! in their ‘Free Budgeting Spreadsheets’ has a number of budgeting spreadsheets.  The IYM Spending Plan Spreadsheet looked promising.

Vertex42 also had budget spreadsheets.  Their Family Budget Planner looked excellent.

‘the balance’ also has a section for Google Docs Budget Spreadsheets. I think we’re going to try the cleverly named Best-Personal-Budget-Planner.  I downloaded it and converted it to Excel, but it looked very usable in Google Sheets as well (and if you don’t own Excel, Sheets is free.)

Most of the spreadsheets suggest budget categories.  Another excellent source for retirement expense budget categories comes from BlackRock.

Actions you can take include:

-If you’re not already using one, pick a spreadsheet or some software to track your expense budget.

-Put your 2018 budget in the tool and start tracking and analyzing!  Good luck!

And if you have not seen the “Why you should read this blog…WIIFY” post, it’s here.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for retirement surprise areas you want to know more about?
-Leave a comment
-Use ‘Contact’, above, to send an email.

3 thoughts on “Oops, or New Year Fiscal Fitness

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