Know what’s coming in, going out

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

Last month bankrate.com’s Amanda Dixon, a UGA Grady School of Journalism graduate, quoted me regarding first steps if you get a pink slip (Seven Questions to Ask before Dipping into your Emergency Savings, March 16). Most people don’t track expenses accurately; if you don’t know where you are going, any path will do. If you have your hours reduced or, even worse, get laid off, it is essential to know what necessary, non-discretionary expenses you have.

My wife and I are nerds; we’ve tracked expenses on Quicken since George H.W. Bush was president.

Quicken predates smartphones and apps, but it’s still a great system. Just keep it simple with these acronyms. HSH: Home Sweet Home — Anything for the home, including the mortgage or rent. DTH: Down the Hatch — Anything you eat or drink, it doesn’t matter where you buy it. WWW: What We Wear — I don’t need to explain. GA: Getting Around — auto expenses including insurance. HF: Having Fun — vacations and fun things to do. KIS: Keeping In Shape — medical costs and healthcare. GSA: Giving Some Away. ONE: Odds and Ends — anything that doesn’t match another category. CASH: ATM and cash withdrawals.

It doesn’t matter how much money you earn or how much you save. Expenses are needs, wants, and wishes. If you don’t know the difference, you are flying blind. Quicken for Macs has lagged the PC version, but over the last four years, the gap has narrowed. Plans begin at $35 annually with a free 30- day trial. Alternatively, use a pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet. Just do it.

Losing your job is bad enough, especially for Floridians, who can expect some of the nation’s lowest unemployment assistance. The deluge of applicants overwhelmed the website, prompting Ken Lawson, head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, to publicly apologize. Applicants will have to complete paper applications and mail them. The delay will not only affect Florida benefits but additional federal assistance, too. I spoke with an expert in the field. His response was his company, or their competitors could make it work, but “Florida likely doesn’t want to pay.” Lawson is a man for owning up to the failures, but the problems predate his tenure. Auditors issued stark warnings years ago about the website. Don’t blame Lawson; the fault lies with libertarians and small government devotees who have hamstrung government for decades.


Mama’s birthday, April 4, landed on deadline, but I don’t think she would be pleased. Mama never voted for a Democrat if there was another option, but she is spinning in her grave at the foolishness of Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Kemp claims no one told him asymptomatic carriers could spread COVID-19. Governor, the Center for Disease Control is in Atlanta; they will take your call. Days like today make me miss my mama.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.