Living in Florida can be a dream come true, but also requires strategic if you want your dream home. If budgeting is new to you, or you know you will need to be more strategic than you have been, don’t worry. Creating a realistic budget is simple, and we have some tips to get you started. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
- Create a budgeting checklist
The first step is to make a list of all your expenses, which is often easiest by going through a checklist. Some expense will be fixed (the same every month) while others are more flexible. Fixed expenses can often be lowered by shopping around. Internet, car insurance, and cell phones are three great examples of fixed expenses that can sometimes be lowered by comparing prices from other vendors. Other fixed expenses may be something you can eliminate altogether, like subscription services or even car payments.
Your fixed expenses might include:
- Mortgage or rent
- Cell phone
- Subscription services
- Car insurance
- Car payments
- Student loan payments
- Other debt payments
- Services (this might include personal training, lawn care, dog walking, housekeeping, or any other fixed service fee each month)
Flexible expenses are those that change each month. This is where most overspending takes place because these expenses rely on your self control to stay on track. If you are not used to living on a budget, it may take some time to fine tune your budget to a realistic number. Make sure you don’t set yourself up to fail by setting unrealistically low goals. Your flexible expenses might include:
- Variable utilities like gas, power, and water
- Eating out
To make sure you haven’t forgotten any of your expenses, scroll through credit card or checking account statements for the past few months to be sure you have taken every recurring or one-time expense into account as you plan.
- Give every dollar a job
The next step is to name where your money is going, down to the last dollar. Start with your monthly income, and then itemize each expense. Don’t forget to include savings and investments in the monthly calculation.
If you get to the end and your expenses add up to less than your monthly income, don’t leave those extra dollars as “miscellaneous.” This is where many people miss a major opportunity to build financial stability. In most cases, dollars that have not been given a job, or assigned to a category, end up being spent on things that weren’t necessary. By budgeting for miscellaneous, spontaneous purchases instead, you remain in control of your spending. Even if you have just a $10 surplus, allocate those $10 to savings, investments, or even fun spending money to remain in charge of your finances.
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- Keep track throughout the month
As you mentally and financially prepare for a move to Florida, consider how your lifestyle might change. This might affect your expenses, either costing you more or less. For example, if you are moving from a colder climate where you workout in a gym every day, you may find that you can drop that expense for running, hiking, and outdoor workouts in Florida where it’s outdoor workout weather all year round.
Another difference may be your travel budget. Staycations in Florida, or a drive to the Keys, are a great way to enjoy world class vacations without paying much (or anything) for airfare.
As you go through your budgeting checklist, consider how each item may shift as you adapt to a new lifestyle in Florida. Living on a budget in Florida is totally possible, and with some planning and strategic spending you can enjoy your dream life here.
For more information about preparing for a move to Florida, contact a local Tampa area real estate buyer’s agent today.