How is your financial future looking? I do not know about you but planning for my monthly budget is still a challenge after all these years. The unexpected bills and the opportunities to do something that was not planned for, are both impactful on the budget. Each year there is a nationwide campaign called America Saves (https://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/54-ways-to-save-money ) and I have found it to be a great reminder for some habits and source to start a few new ones. Read on to see what tips you might find to stretch your dollars and/or increase your savings for your financial future.
*Establish a budget- this is different from just writing down when you pay your bills; it’s an overall accountability of all income and expenses. If you would like some guidance with this we have a budgeting calendar available ($6.00+tax) or Money 101 classes to get you started.
*Build an emergency fund- ideally enough to cover all of your “fixed or regular” expenses for at least three months. If you do not have this, start today to build this safety net for you and your family.
*Use the envelope system and budget your cash if overspending is a challenge in your household. Set aside cash for set bills or maybe things like groceries, eating away from home or shopping. Once it’s gone, there’s no more spending till next month.
*Practice the 24 hour rule when shopping either in stores or on line, consider your purchase for 24 hours before committing to it. Many times when in stores, I try to make a mental note, do I really want this, if so I’ll come back for it. You guessed it, most of the time I cannot even remember what it was that I “thought” I wanted.
*Try calculating purchases by hours worked instead of what they cost. For example if you want a new pair of shoes that cost $50, how many hours will it take you to work to pay for them? Is it really worth working that much for them?
*Short term goals to save money give a sense of accomplishment to build larger ones. Try saving $10.00 a week for a month towards something you really want like furniture, computer or to increase your savings account. Decide that you want to save more than you want to spend and see what you can accomplish. Remember to involve your children, they are watching how you budget your money and research shows they have many of their practices set by the age of 7.
*Pay off credit cards in full each month. The high interest rate can cause havoc with a budget. Make it a goal to pay it off as quickly as possible and then only use it for emergencies or with what you can pay at the end of the month. Even reducing debt by $1,000 can save $150-200 in interest each year in interest and more if your interest rate is more that 20%. Leave your credit cards at home if impulse spending is a challenge, really think through and plan your spending before using credit.
*Consider using auto-pay for your bills to ensure that they are paid on time to avoid late charges.
*Plan for retirement as early as possible. Compound interest and employer matches can make your retirement dreams come true.
You work hard for your money, planning how to save and spend it just makes sense to achieve goals for today and tomorrow. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 330-264-8722.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.