You've gathered the numbers you need for taxes and a budget
You've gathered the numbers you need for taxes and a budget - 

I hope you're enjoying the holidays. It's a wonderful time of year.

Don't stop the celebrations, but keep this idea in the back of your mind for next year: Considering creating a household budget. It's a good way to get control of our finances. It helps us to stop spending more than we're earning. The payoff from a budget is that you end up spending your money where you want and save for what you would like to do. A budget can generate a lifetime of good financial habits for a relatively small investment in time and effort.

Problem is, it's easy -- really easy -- for most of us to put off setting up a budget. That's why I like this practical suggestion from Henry "Bud" Hebeler of Create your budget when you do your taxes.

I calculate a new budget at about the time I do my income tax every year. That's convenient because I have all of the numbers in front of me at that time -- and it's also the time of year when it's raining outside in Seattle, so I'm more likely to be house bound.

I'm more likely to be snow bound in the tundra of the Midwest. He's making the suggestion for retirees who need to go over their budget every year. But it's a practical idea that works for most people, retired or not. You're doing much of the number-gathering work anyway; even if the actual tax calculations are done by a professional. It's a twofer for essentially the same amount of work.


Follow Chris Farrell at @cfarrellecon