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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

January 30, 2024 - 8:42am --

I’m guessing that many of you have already completed your taxes, especially if you are anticipating a refund.  It’s a great time to ponder, what to do with the extra money…. like making short- and long-term plans and how to make your money work for achieving the things that you want to do.  Maybe it’s plans like buying a home or car or paying off loans and credit cards or even planning for a vacation or a special trip.   Whatever your plans are, you are more apt to achieve them if you have a written spending plan. 

A 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 picked out to pay off first because of either a small amount owed or a high interest rate.  If you like looking at a longer term plan, please check out sponsored by the University of Utah, it helps 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 are of interest to you, check out this site and see if it can provide some direction.

Learning to manage money is a life skill

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 in effort to have more income on a regular basis instead of a lump sum at the end of the year.  Taking control of your money means that you can invest or save it, rather than sharing it with the government for a year (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.  Maybe even choose a different bank, one that’s not linked to your debit card, so that it’s harder to get to, but available if it’s an absolute 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?  Which item is more important to me, the extra clothing that is on clearance or saving the money for one of my goals?  What about the little extras like coffee on the way to work or the vending machines?  Maybe it’s the movies or pizza every weekend that puts a hole in your budget?  Consider these as well:

* When shopping, make a list of items needed in the store, along with a spending limit.  For example, I’m only spending $18 in this store to purchase these nine items.  Or, if there’s money left, then purchase only what’s on sale. 

* If there’s something that really catches your eye, you think you “need,” leave it on the shelf or rack and do the rest of your shopping.  Before you leave the store, ask yourself what it was that you thought you really needed?

* Try using only cash to purchase items that are flexible like groceries, food away from home, gas and/or personal items.  By budgeting with cash, when it’s gone, it’s gone until next pay.

* What can you spend, save, and share with your money?  Your children are watching how you spend and/or save your money.  Having the conversation about how we decide what to spend our money on is essential to their understanding of managing money.  Help them set up a system with “banks” like coffee cans or jars so they can decide how to spend their money.  The Wayne County library has many kits on money management for all ages that you might check out so that you have some activities for your next snow day.

* If you’d like a calendar system to set up your personal budget, please contact me, I’d be happy to share an easy system with you.

Working together with your family to set goals like vacations or home remodeling can help everyone understand the value of planning how to spend money.  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, call me at 330-264-8722 or email me at


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.