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A couple that’s been retired for years says they made a mistake in their 30s that could have helped them build more wealth

  • A retired couple wishes they could tell their 30-year-old selves the importance of budgeting.
  • They didn’t keep a budget in their 20s and 30s, but now see it could have made a big difference. 
  • It would have made finances easier, and helped them reduce their stress about money as a couple.
  • Have a retirement story you’d like to share? Email reporter Liz Knueven at [email protected]

Daniel and Lori Winegarden have been retired for years now. Lori retired in 2013, and Daniel retired shortly after in 2018, from careers in corporate real estate, and law and business, respectively.

Since retiring, the couple has been blogging at Aging With Freedom. And, with some time to think back over their financial lives, they told Insider there is one thing they wish they’d done differently.

When asked what advice they’d give their 30-year-old selves, Daniel said there was one big thing he’d tell himself if he could turn back time: keep a budget

Keeping a budget would have made money management easier for them as a couple

When they were younger, the Winegardens had several misconceptions about budgeting. 

“We learned the importance of budgeting in our 40s, and if we had known it in our 20s or 30s, it probably would have been far better,” Daniel said. “It really helps relationships because it gets you on the same page and avoids spending the same money twice.” 

Starting out with a budget sooner rather than later would have helped them build more wealth, according to Daniel. “What we learned was the value of a budget — it’s what rich people do to get rich,” he said. 

Writer Thomas J. Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Next Door,” found that budgeting was common among the millionaires he interviewed for his book. “In our latest national survey of millionaires, we found that for every 100 millionaires who don’t budget, there are about 120 that do,” he wrote.

While budgeting might take time and be difficult for some, it’s worth doing.

Once they learned how to budget, they learned how to avoid money stress

Budgeting helped the Winegardens have a better handle on their money. One of the things they learned while doing it was that they could actually plan for expenses in advance, and not have to stress about them later. 

“That annual

car insurance
bill really isn’t a surprise,” Daniel said. “So we just put aside one-twelfth every month for the car insurance and other things like that. And, suddenly, finances were on an automatic, no-stress relationship.”

While they wish they’d started budgeting sooner, they quickly learned the value of budgeting and kept it up. Once they’d put a budget in place and developed methods to help them pay for irregular expenses, they were able to stick to their spending plan and not dip into savings or other cash. Budgeting also helps them keep their spending in check now that they’re both retired. 

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