Does it feel like your money is in control of you, instead of you being in control of it? If so, I’m passing along the highlights from the money management class “Give Yourself a Raise,” taught by the nonprofit, SNAP. The volunteer who taught the session I went to, on February 2nd, works at a bank.
Have a long term spending plan, instead of spending money randomly (SNAP). Build your plan with SMART goals: specific, measurable, agreed upon (meaning that you truly want to do it), realistic, and timed (SNAP). For example, I just checked when my bill for running Psychology Plus is due, and it turns out that it’s in a couple of months. The bill will be around $100 (for the year) and, since it’s about 10 weeks away, I’m saving a little over $10 per week so that I can maintain my WordPress plan. It would’ve been easier if I had started saving from the first day that I signed up for it, but at least there’s still time to salvage it.
Write down your spending goals, sources of income, and purchases that you’ve made (SNAP). I agree with her about writing all of this down, because food, bills, household items and more add up so fast that we just can’t keep track of it all in our heads. I tried to wing it, but sometimes, I miscalculated. When that happened, sometimes companies like CenturyLink would try to run my card without success, which must have been frustrating for them. I’m lucky that I still have my internet, phone, and most of my other services (I did lose my Meetup organizer account. Oops).
I’d say that if you have multiple sources of income, and/or your income fluctuates, it’s even more important to keep that aspect of your budget written down. If something changes, such as a cut in food stamps, or a raise at your job, write it down quickly so that you don’t forget. As soon as you sign up for another service that will charge you monthly or yearly, write it down.
The volunteer poked fun at “ostriches with their heads in the sand” who just hope everything will work out instead of taking an objective look at the numbers of their income, expenses, and financial goals. I was that ostrich, but I’m easing my head out of the sand. I’ve written down my disability and food stamp amounts, as well as most of my bills, such as my cell phone bill, which is $38.45 per month with tax. I still have work to do on it, but have made progress.
Budgeting can be unnerving. Overall, though, it’s less scary to know exactly what we have to work with. If you’d like to take a money management class, I found out about this one on a library’s events page. Good luck.
Works Cited: class designed by Jay MacPherson, financial counselor with SNAP’s Financial Access program
Image: by Shae Dennis (me)