We have been so blessed by an usually warm and beautiful spring. I love the scents and colors that brighten the landscapes and in a way motivate me to get started on the spring tasks a little earlier than usual. What are you looking forward to? Thinking about what we want to accomplish and putting them on paper is a great way to get started. Setting goals and accomplishing them is a great mood enhancer as well as motivator to get things accomplished that you have on your to do list. What do you want to accomplish in 2021? What do you want your money to do for you in 2021?
I’m guessing that many of you already have your taxes complete, especially if you were getting a refund or the additional stimulus checks. I’ve been working this spring with individuals who are making short and long term plans with their money and how to make it work for them. Some are buying a home, others are paying off loans and credit cards, and others are planning for their future. Whatever your plans are, you are more apt to achieve them if you have a written spending plan.
A budget or spending plan is different than just a record of where the money is going - it’s the big picture that includes the projected pay offs, interest rates, and particular bills selected to pay off first because of either small amount owed or a high interest rate. It also sets limits to what I will spend in certain areas like groceries or gas or hobbies. If there’s a fair amount of debt in your budget, there is a wonderful website at https://powerpay.org/ sponsored by the University of Utah that help individuals list their goals and set a spending plan based on what to focus on or pay off first. If paying off credit cards or outstanding loans is of interest to you, check out this site and see if it can provide some direction.
Learning to manage money is a life skill. If you received a tax refund, you might need to review how much taxes are taken from your paycheck and make changes to get more on a monthly basis. If you have extra money from a stimulus check or extra pay in your check, what’s your plan for it? Taking control of your money means that you can invest it rather than sharing it with the government for a year or until you file next year. Some people tell me that it’s their way to “save” money; I might challenge you to put a set amount into your savings account as a direct deposit, so that you’ve got a reserve when you need it. If you don’t see it, then it’s not there to spend, but accessible in cases of emergency.
Being able to save money rather than spend it is a decision that each one of us has to make. Do I need this or that more than I need to save for my goals? If you ask yourself that every time you go shopping or want to go out to eat, you might be surprised with the dollars you might save. What about the little extras like coffee on the way to work or the vending machines? Maybe it’s the shopping on line or pizza every weekend that puts a hole in your budget? Working together with your family to set goals like vacations or home remodeling can help everyone pitch in and help out. Sharing this process with children helps them learn that money management is a skill that they will need for life. Start today with planning your financial future and if you have questions, give me a call at 330-264-8722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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