Graphic from SmartAsset
BROOKFIELD — While many people
struggle with keeping a budget, those living in Waukesha, Washington
and Ozaukee counties are some of the best at doing so in the state,
according to a survey.
According to a recent survey by SmartAsset, Vilas County has the
highest number on the Best Budgeters Index at 78.46. Coming in
second was Waukesha County with an index number of 73.94.
To determine the index, SmartAsset looked at three factors: how much
people spend as a percent of personal income; average net wealth as
a percent of personal income; and bankruptcies per 1,000 people.
Ozaukee County placed number three with an index of 72.55. At number
6 is Washington County at 66.24. Number three and four on the list
were Door and Calumet counties, respectively.
SmartAsset said about one-third of American households use a budget,
according to Gallup.
What does it take to create a budget that you can stick to?
Katie Braun, a financial advisor and associate vice president of
Dunco, Braun & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Brookfield, said it starts
with determining goals.
She said she wants to help a “client and empower them to start
looking forward to some goals,” which helps them to prioritize.
Creating a list of goals is one of the first steps that Braun and
Gary Dunco, a private wealth advisor and certified financial planner
practitioner with Dunco, Braun & Associates, take with a client. A
budget is also key to financial planning, they said.
Goals can be immediate, such as a new car, or further down the road,
such as early retirement.
“Working with a client, you want to focus time-wise on a budget,”
She advised that a person should pick a couple of months of the year
and look at the spending pattern during them.
Even a little spending can add up, so a comprehensive look at
essential and lifestyle expenses is important, Braun said.
But ultimately, success comes with the right mindset.
“You want to look at budgeting in positive way, as an empowering
thing,” Braun said. “Knowledge is power. … If you shift certain
things that you are doing. You can make changes that have no effect
Dunco advises that if a person receives a pay or bonus, that money
should be invested into a retirement fund.
He also said that a credit card doesn’t always need to be torn up to
establish correct spending habits.
“I think the world as a whole, the way that we are paying things, is
shifting so greatly that going to cash won’t be advisable,” Dunco
To help stay on track with a budget, Dunco and Braun advise having a
financial advisor or an accountability partner, such as a spouse.
He said it’s also important to establish an emergency fund: about
two to three months’ worth of money for a single person and about
six months’ worth for a couple.