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Budgeting 101

What's in a name? A lot if you ask us. A la Carte Financial got its name because we see financial planning through a different colored lens. There is no one size fits all option. It's about bite sized advice.

Why bite sized? Because achieving your goals is a matter of steps; one at a time. You don't leap to the top of the staircase in one fell swoop. It means setting SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time framed.

At A la Carte Financial, one of our favorite analogies is to think about financial planning, especially budgeting, in the same way as dieting or a new fitness regiment. Put your hand up if you've started a diet or workout plan only to burn out and fail within a month. Is that the whole room raised? I'm as guilty as anyone of setting too ambitious a goal, going for that leap and being disappointed, instead of taking it one step at a time.

But let's be honest: calorie counting sucks. And budgeting is similar, monitoring every dollar you spend like a calorie, making sure you don't go over your daily maximum. There are a number of ways to make it easier though. The first is cleaning the money clutter out of your life. Get rid of unnecessary obstacles that make financial success feel elusive, like holding your financial products across multiple institutions. It's easier to climb a set of stairs that run straight up in front of you. If your credit cards, investments and bank accounts are here, there and everywhere, you've turned financial management from a ladder into a rock climbing wall.

The other way to make a new budget more effective is coaching and accountability. Is it a surprise that people who work with a personal trainer see better fitness results than those who don't? A coach steers you back on course when you start slipping, working on form over weight. The latter is a recipe for injury and setback. The former builds healthy, manageable habits that slowly but surely get you to where you want to be. The fable of The Tortoise and the Hare has stood the test of time for a reason.

Look at A la Carte Financial like your financial trainer, holding the harness so you feel confident enough to put that first toe hold into the rock wall. Before long you'll realize you're at the top because your coach helped you navigate, declutter and simplify financial freedom. But it isn't going to happen overnight. Realizing that is the first step to making a difference.

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