4.27.2007

Breaking down your finances

As a member of www.thenest.com, I receive emails periodically regarding newlywed life and all it entails. Today, I received an email linking to the below. I found it quite interesting and was a bit excited/relieved when I realized A and I aren't doing such a bad job with our finances. Thought I'd pass on.

Question: What percentage of our salary should we spend on our first home, considering we also want to invest money in stocks, increase our savings, pay off school loans, and contribute to retirement funds? -- NatalieAnn

Answer: With so many future goals, it�s hard to figure out how to divvy up each paycheck. But here are some guidelines of the maximum percentages you should put your paycheck towards.

15% transportation: Including all car payments, gas, repair, insurance, taxis, and public methods.

35% housing: This means your mortgage, taxes, home insurance, maintenance, and any other living costs (utilities, renovations, and the like). Because real estate prices have climbed far fast, you may find you�re unable to find a house you like within this percentage. Get as close as you can. But before you sign on the dotted line, make out a new budget that includes what the monthly mortgage would be. If you�re cutting it too close and can�t save or have to drastically cut corners, it might not be worth it.

10% savings: Put aside money for your 401(k), IRA, and any other retirement or safety-net funds. Saving the full 10 percent may prove difficult when you first start out, but try to save at least 5 percent, and increase your savings by at least 1 percent each year.

10% debt repayment: This means credit cards and student loans. If you don�t have debt, put this money toward your savings or housing percentages -- whichever needs it most. Just remember: Pay more toward your credit card debt and the minimum on your student loans. In most cases, student loans are cheaper debts (because of the low interest rates) that are okay to stretch out.

25% everything else: Before you get too excited about this chunk of cash, remember that it has to cover your medical expenses (doctor visits and prescriptions), food, clothes, entertainment, and travel. Besides medical treatment and the necessary food items, this is where you can be the strictest with your budget. Track this spending closely (on a computer or even in your day planner) -- it will help you narrow down what you really need. After all, if you can cut here, you might be able to put more money toward your home, your savings, or paying off your debt.

1 comment:

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