Managing Your Finances with Vantage Point: Budgeting Made Easy

Sam Johnson, CFP® • Jan 1, 2024 • FINANCIAL PLANNING

In recent years, you probably noticed that the cost of everything, from groceries to plane tickets, has been rising. It is even more likely that you’ve heard newscasters, politicians, and your friends and family discussing inflation. It is a fact that significant monetary and fiscal stimulus, and rapidly changing spending habits due to COVID-19 resulted in rising inflation that the US economy has not experienced for decades.

As inflation requires you to adjust your expectations before making purchases, it is equally important to adapt your budget to account for these changes. The budget you meticulously crafted a few years ago to manage your finances may no longer align with the rising prices of goods and services. Heritage Wealth Architects offers a solution to ease the burden of creating and tracking a budget.

You might already be familiar with Vantage Point’s capabilities, which include tracking your net worth and serving as a vault for documents. Another great tool available within Vantage Point is the spending and budgeting tool.

Why should you consider using Vantage Point for tracking expenses and budgeting? The platform can link your bank accounts and credit cards, automating expense tracking and budget creation. While setting up your initial budget may require time, ongoing management becomes easy and hassle-free.

Heritage Wealth Architects will not have access to your budget or spending transactions unless you grant permission. Any spending transaction or budget you create within this tool will remain private.

How to Track Your Expenses

1. Login: Start by logging in to your Vantage Point account through the Heritage Wealth Architects website.

2. Navigate to Spending: Once logged in, access the ‘Spending’ tab.

3. Link Your Accounts: Ensure that you have connected your bank accounts and credit cards to enable automatic transaction imports.

4. Categorize Transactions: Begin with the current month and revise as you go. It is recommended to keep your categories simple, but Vantage Point also offers detailed subcategories for customization. For instance, group car-related expenses like payments, insurance, maintenance, and gas under the broader category ‘Auto & Transport’. By grouping, creating your budget will be easier.

5. Automate Transactions: To simplify the process further, create rules that automate the categorization of recurring transactions. For example, if you have a Netflix subscription, set up a rule to categorize every future Netflix transaction as a subscription. These rules are particularly useful for recurring expenses like mortgage payments, groceries, and fuel.

How to Create a Budget

1.  Access Budgets: Navigate to the ‘Budgets’ tab within the ‘Spending’ section on Vantage Point.

2.  Add a Budget: Start by selecting ‘Add a Budget.’

3.  Allocate Amounts: Begin with categories you are familiar with, such as transportation expenses and mortgage/rent payments. Assign specific amounts to each category. Expect adjustments during the initial months, but after a while, you will only need to fine-tune your budget.

4. Regular Review: Log in frequently to monitor your budget and ensure accurate categorization of expenses. It is easier to make small corrections every few days than to address a month’s worth of transactions at one time.

5.  Avoid Double Accounting: Remember to categorize credit card payments or transfers between linked accounts as “transfers” to prevent double accounting.

The spending and budgeting tool within Vantage Point serves as your go-to place to maintain budgets and track expenses. Collecting accurate spending figures enables Heritage Wealth Architects to craft a personalized financial plan tailored to your needs. We encourage you to harness the power of this tool to accelerate your financial plan. Please contact your financial planner with any questions on how to use this tool.

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