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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 25 Food and Household • Groceries • Household/toiletry items (cleaning supplies, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.) • Meal delivery services • School lunches • Takeout dinners • Work lunches Transportation • Car insurance • Car payment • Gas • Parking • Public transportation • Repairs Self-Care and Fun • Entertainment • Gifts for friends and family • Haircuts • Health insurance • Massage/acupuncture/nutrition • Meals/coffee with friends • Pedicure/manicure Clothing • Clothing, shoes, etc. After you've considered all your expenses, slowly look around the room you're sitting in. What else is important to you: art, pet care, music concerts? There are usually sneaky expenses you will find later. When you do, add them to your list. TRACKING Once you've accounted for your income and expenses, you'll need a tracking system. The most important thing about choosing a system is being realistic. You'll need the will and determination to try something new—and a strategy that resonates with you. If you are the kind of person who enjoys using an app, try something like Mint, which is a money manager, personal finance, and budgeting application for your computer or cell phone. To find other tracking apps, search the app store, or search "The 8 Best Budgeting Apps of 2019" to find a tracker that works for you. On the other hand, if you feel you would benefit from a cash system, put your credit cards in your sock drawer for a bit. Then, try an envelope budgeting system. Jordan Page has a YouTube video titled "Simplest Budgeting Method EVER! Envelope Budgeting You've Never Seen." This video is basic and has helped a lot of people. The bottom line: Choose a system that tracks your monthly expenses—and works for you. Your new tracking system will take a little time and practice, but by your third month, you'll have the hang of it. SAVINGS AND EMERGENCY FUNDS Now, you are ready to consider a savings and emergency fund. Let's face it, the unexpected can—and sometimes does— happen. Your car won't start. Your dog needs to see the vet. Or, perhaps your health needs special attention. This is when an emergency fund is key. A $1,000 fund would be ideal, but you choose the amount that offers a little security. Once you have a cushion, you won't have to panic. RETIREMENT Retirement may seem a long way off, but it is always important to keep it in the mix—even when starting a budgeting plan. Following are two types of retirement accounts you may want to consider. IRA An individual retirement account (IRA) allows you to save money for retirement in a way that offers tax advantages. You can set up an IRA account at many financial institutions— whether you have an employer- sponsored retirement account or not. 401(k) A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan sponsored by an employer. 401(k) contributions are deducted from your salary on a pre-tax basis. This means that by contributing to a 401(k), you actually lower the amount you pay in current income taxes. MIND THE DETAILS I used to think that budgeting was like a straitjacket that would limit my freedom. Details, details, details—yikes! The truth, though, is that minding the details can offer all sorts of important insights into your life, your values, and your habits. Instead of just ending up somewhere, you can choose your destination. May your money bring you joy! Amy Andrews McMaster is the director of training and coaching for Conscious Time. Her purpose is to help curious and courageous people awaken to their optimal potential. She loves to help clients transform obstacles, uncover possibilities, and create new solutions. Contact her at MT Retirement Plan In the May/June 2018 issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine, author Allissa Haines wrote "The Definitive Retirement Plan for MTs" (page 84). This valuable resource is critical for anyone starting retirement savings or wanting to look anew at how they're measuring up. Thankfully, financial planning doesn't have to be scary, and getting your retirement plan figured out is really empowering. Building a satisfying, sustaining massage practice includes planning for your own retirement. It's a step that many of us overlook and can lead to anxiety now and financial instability later. Let's break down the options for your retirement planning in plain, simple terms that will make it easier for you to understand how to start saving for your retirement without feeling lost and confused. HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO SAVE? This is the most basic question: How much do I need? It seems like a simple question, but a lot of people don't even know how much they should be saving. It helps to work backward to figure it out. What do you want your income to be when you retire? Let's pick a number like $50,000/year just to keep it simple. If you would like to generate that much income at retirement (meaning, without working) you will need enough money so that you make that much off the interest. The usual figure to project interest-earned income is 4 percent. This means that whatever big chunk of money you have saved at retirement, you would be living off 4 percent of that per year. Why 4 percent? It's generally regarded as a "reasonable" figure based on the historical performance of the stock market. It's also a bit controversial, so you may read other opinions on this. Surprise! People like to argue about money. Here's the thing: don't get too hung up on it. These are just guidelines to get you started saving money. If you're off by a percent or two it's not the end of the world. Missing the mark a little is better than doing nothing at all. How much money do you need to save to get that retirement income from interest? You can do some math to figure it out, but don't bother. There are a million websites out there that will do the calculations for you. My favorite is the The Definitive Retirement Plan for MTs By Allissa Haines When most people think of the phrase retirement planning, they conjure up images of old guys in suits peering over their glasses at you, throwing out financial jargon designed to make you feel dumb. It's true, retirement planning isn't glamorous. There's a learning curve, and it takes a little effort. You know what is glamorous? Being able to live, eat, and play wherever you want when you retire. Not having to eat ramen off a hot plate while living in your favorite niece's basement is pretty nice too.

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