Got big spending plans? Try this first.

January 19, 2022

By Katie Levene

Got big spending plans? Try this first.

Roaring 2020s

Recent years have reminded us of what we enjoy and appreciate most. It could be a live concert, a trip across the country to see friends, or a unique throw pillow that “speaks to you.” Whatever it is, if you have plans to spend more money appreciating your favorite things, you’re not alone. In fact, six in 10 Americans plan to go all out in the next decade — enjoying the things they missed out on in the last few years.

The phenomenon is called the “Roaring 2020s” and 70% of adults are looking forward to having more fun with their finances in the future.

Why are people more comfortable with shifting their budgets? A nationwide survey of 2,000 adults found that 84% of people say their plans to spend more freely are due to having built a financial safety net during the last few years of the pandemic.

Before you start a spending spree, here are a few things to do to avoid buyer’s remorse:

Build your emergency fund

When you have a chunk of savings reserved for the unexpected, you feel financially free. As the phrase goes, life happens. Something unexpected will come up like the furnace going out, a car battery dying, or a sudden job loss. When you have an emergency savings account in place, these situations become a little less stressful.

So, how much do you need? Experts recommend anywhere from three to 12 months of expenses. This is a large range so do what makes you most comfortable. According to the survey, close to three-quarters of Americans have an emergency fund set up for when they need it most — with an average of $3,816.

The types of expenses you want to prepare for include rent/mortgage payments, food, utilities, medications and transportation. You don’t need to factor in expenses like date nights and travel.

Reflect on what you’ve been missing most

You can spend money guilt-free when you spend your money intentionally. Take some time to think about what type of spending brings you the most joy. Heck, even write it down. A third of those polled prefer spending money on experiences, and a quarter (25%) on material things.

Once you know where you enjoy spending your money, plan for how you will pay for it. If you are planning something big, like a trip, you can set up a separate savings account for that goal. You can also use cash back from a rewarding credit card to help pay for your favorite treats.

Remember budgets should be flexible

Sometimes you need to rethink your budget and that’s OK! If you’ve decided how you want to spend your money and your budget doesn’t align, adjust. You won’t be the only one. 72% of people have rethought their budget since the pandemic began.

Cut the expenses that don’t bring you joy to create space for the ones that do. If you want to spend more on dinner with friends but have bigger financial goals, like buying a house, plan a realistic budget that rewards you for your progress. For example, automate your savings toward a down payment. Once that money is out of your checking, you have a clearer understanding of what you have left for things like a night out.

Budgets get a bad rap with many people who think they are too restricting. But, we argue differently. Budgets take the stress and guesswork out of your finances. You know exactly what you have for each of your spending categories.

People love budgets! Four in five Americans are mindful of their finances, with 73% of people regularly following a monthly budget for all their financial needs. There are a few types including the zero-sum budget and 50/30/20 budget.

If you’re looking forward to spending more intentionally, we’re excited for you! All you need to do is have an emergency fund in place, reflect on your spending and adjust your budget. Then you can truly enjoy your purchases.

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Katie Levene is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.

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