Page 5 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - January 2016 - 23-01
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Senior Times - January 2016
Page 5
By: Andy Fletcher, Guardian Finance & Advocacy Services
I realize that not everyone’s idea of a good time ever involves the word “budget.” However, by spending an hour of your
time preparing a budget once a year, it
can set in motion a true understanding
of your finances.
I have been preparing budgets with clients for nearly eight years and invariably I notice that until I help create the budget, people don’t actually know how much
they spend. They may know their rent or mortgage payment and they may know how much they pay for car insurance but they certainly don’t know how much they spend on groceries and many other items. They don’t even know if saving is possible.
I will show you how to use a budget as
a tool to help accomplish your financial goals for the next one to three years.
Think of some things that you want to achieve financially during that time period. Maybe you want to save money to make some needed repairs on your home, to buy a new car, or plan a trip.
Budgeting is simply the first step in developing a plan of what you would like to set aside each month to reach each of your goals.
There are a lot of different budgets out there and I am not too concerned about what type you start with, as long as you
are certain that you capture all of your income (usually the easy part) and all of the spending (this is the harder part). I would advise that you have the last several bank and credit card statements with you as you go through this exercise.
Start with your income. This is going to give you the amount of money with which you have to work. Remember, a budget
is not what happens in any one particular month but rather what happens on average over a twelve-month period.
Write down the major categories
of where your money is spent. The
list I normally use is housing, utilities, household (food and personal items), automobile, payment plans, insurance
and miscellaneous. Your categories may be somewhat different but simply use these main categories to help you capture all
of your expenses.
On the expense side there are many categories that resemble a roller coaster. Take the category of automobile repairs. Say you spent $600 on repairs over the last year. The monthly average would be $50. No one is going to have twelve straight months of a single $50 repair bill. What you will find is that you have two to four repairs over the year that total $600. So remember that budgets fluctuate because spending fluctuates also.
After the first draft of the budget is complete, subtract the total of expenses from your total income. At this point, hopefully the remainder will be a positive number. Just say, for example, that your income is greater than your expenses by $400. Simply put, that means on average you should be saving $400 per month or $4,800 per year. Now ask yourself, “What goals do I want to accomplish?”
Going back to the examples I talked about earlier, you might decide that you want to put aside $200 towards repairs and also $200 per month for a new car.
The key is not to leave the money sitting in your main checking account. I have found that money that is easy to access is also easy to spend. A better plan is to move those funds earmarked for special saving purposes into separate accounts marked as such on a regular basis.
If your expenses are greater than
your income, you have a few choices.
If possible, try to earn more income.
Many seniors are choosing to either go back to work or to start a new venture
that they have always dreamed of. If this
is not an option, find a way to decrease your expenses. The simplest way is to reduce spending in categories you have some control over, such as eating out, cable TV or clothing. Ultimately, hard choices will have to be made and spending will have to be prioritized in order to free up some money to save for future planning.
Taking the time to prepare your budget is merely the first step in the planning process. It should help you be more aware of all of your spending, and show you how much you could potentially be saving each month. Once you are tracking your expenses carefully, you will find the motivation
to save for your goals.
Andy Fletcher can be reached at or (866) 344-0688 ext. 463. Additional information can be found at
Nashville Delton
Union City
Battle Creek Albion Marshall Battle Creek Homer
Michigan Center Jackson Jackson
Main St. Banqets
Faith United Methodist
Jenny Burlison Elayne Nottingham
(269) 852-9182 M-F (269) 623-5400 M,W,T
10:30am-1pm 10:30am-1pm
COA Building
Mary Cook
(269) 948-4856
Eagles Club
Joyce Dennie
(269) 367-4041
Meals provided by Barry County Commission on Aging. A program sponsored by Barry County United Way.
Union City Fire Station Rusty Hampton (517) 741-7212 M,T,TH,F 10:30am-12pm
Lunch served at 12pm
Branch County CAA Office
Tamara Wittbrodt
(517) 278-8249
Lunch Served at 12pm
Meals provided by Community Action Food and Nutritional Services. Funding sources AAA 3C, Branch County United Way, USDA and private donations.
Albion Senior Dining Center
Cynthia Rose
(866) 200-8877
Lunch served at 12pm
Bedford Manor Dining Center Clarence Dining Center Marshall House Dining Center Westbrook Place Dining Center Homer Presbyterian Church
Burdell Wells
Sharon Rice
Bablynn Squires Michelle Dove
Senior Health Partners
(866) 200-8877 (866) 200-8877 (866) 200-8877 (866) 200-8877 (866) 200-8877
M,W,F 10:30am-1pm M,T,W 10:30am-1pm M,W,F 10:30am-1pm M,W,F 10:30am-1pm T 10:30am
Lunch served at 11:30am Lunch served at 11:45am Lunch served at 12pm Lunch served at 11:30am Whole Person Wellness too
Lunch served at 12pm
Lunch served at 12pm
Lunch served at 12pm
Battle Creek
Cherryhill Manor Senior Center
Constance Siegel
(866) 200-8877
Lunch served at 11:30am
Battle Creek
Lakeview 900 Dining Center
Karl Hoard
(866) 200-8877
Lunch served at 11:30am
Battle Creek
Springview Towers Dining Center
Caroline Oberlin
(866) 200-8877
Lunch served at 11:30am
Battle Creek
Northside Senior Dining Center
Deboraha Sallee
(866) 200-8877
Lunch served at 11:30am
Tekonsha Community Hall
Senior Health Partners
(866) 200-8877
Whole Person Wellness too
Meals provided by Senior Services. Funding by Calhoun County Senior Services, AAA 3B, USDA and private donations.
Crouch Senior Center
Michelle Rose
(517) 788-4364
Lunch served at 12pm
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church
Park Forest
Word of Light
Nikki Soli
Lynn Walker
Nancy Behling
(517) 764-2950
(517) 787-9750
(517) 782-7755
M,W,F 10am-2pm
M,T,W,Th,F 10am-1pm
M,T,W,Th,F 10am-1:30pm
Norvell/Township Hall
Gail Jamieson
(517) 536-4370
Lunch served at 12pm
Spring Arbor
Spring Arbor Senior Center
Bev Greene
(517) 750-1010
Lunch served at 12pm
To have your senior dining center added, Call Sherii at (269) 979-1412 ext. 302 or Email:

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