Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

: Don’t have a budget? It’s never too late to get started.

Budgeting and financial planning is like exercise. We all know we need to work out, but it’s hard to have the discipline. 

Whether you’re just starting out or already knee-deep in life and expenses, it’s important to have a budget. And it’s never too late to start, according to Doris Meister, chairman and chief executive of Wilmington Trust Co., who spoke with MarketWatch for Financial Literacy Month during a Barron’s Live webinar.

“It’s the cornerstone of financial success for everybody,” Meister said. “Sometimes we overcomplicate it in our minds what it means to build a budget and a financial plan.”

“There’s a lot of similarities between financial planning and budgeting and exercise,” Meister said. “I typically borrow Nike’s expression and say ‘just do it.’”

“While it takes discipline and it’s hard to get over the hump to start, it will reduce a lot of stress,” Meister said.

But where to start? Meister said to keep it simple: “I would start with a legal pad and a pencil.”

First, list all your sources of income. Then deduct expenses, starting with fixed expenses such as your rent and car payment, as well as a contribution to your 401(k) plan or IRA, and a small amount for emergency savings, Meister said. 

After you deduct all the fixed costs of life, you can look at any money left over as discretionary spending for vacations, clothing or gifts.

“This is where you have to make real choices,” Meister said. 

After all the discretionary spending is accounted for, any left over money should be added to further bolster your savings, she said.  

As many as 81% of families want to have access to a financial adviser, but that may take a variety of forms such as help from an adviser at your local bank or online or phone support from companies such as Schwab or Fidelity, Meister said. She also recommends tools such as MoneyGuidePro.

“There’s a lot of anxiety around financial things. Cut yourself some slack. Nobody’s perfect. It takes a lot of discipline,” Meister said. “Don’t get upset with yourself if you’re not doing it. Start to do it. It will comfort you to see clearly you have some choices I can make here. Some smaller, some more dramatic. But you can only do those if you know what the picture looks like.”

Many clients are shocked when they see on paper how much they actually spend in a month, she said. 

Meister herself said she was raised in a family with a strong work ethic which stressed the value of saving money. 

“This idea of saving was something that started for me at a very young age,” Meister said “It’s a value system. It’s an ethos.”

April is National Financial Literacy Month. To mark the occasion, MarketWatch will publish a series of “Financial Fitness” articles to help readers improve their fiscal health, and offer advice on how to save, invest and spend their money wisely. Read more here.

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