Money Matters Program Recap

Thank you to everyone who attend our kick-off event for Money Smart Week 2019, entitled Money Matters.  One of the first steps to financial security is planning and following through on a personal spending plan or budget.  Budgeting in about choices; choosing how to make money and choosing how to spend money.  Money Matters, a financial workshop created by the FDIC, teaches how to do just that.

The first step in the planning process is to set financial goals, which include:

  • Identify and write down your financial goals, such as retirement, buying a house, or sending children to college
  • Organize your financial goals based on the time frame you would like to complete them in
    • Short-term (less than 1 year), medium-term (1 – 3 years, and long-term (5 years or more)
  • Educate yourself by talking with a financial representative or by reading books or magazines.  Then you can identify small, measurable steps to achieve your goals.
  • Evaluate your progress monthly, quarterly, or yearly to see if you have met your goals or can identify ways to improve reaching your goals

A great way to help understand your current financial situation and what goals are reasonable, is to create a spending plan.  A spending plan is a step-by-step plan for meeting expenses in a given time period and determining what extra money you have at the end of each month.  A spending plan should include:

  • All sources of income, including the dates income is received
    • income includes wages, social security, retirement, government assistance, and child support
  • All of your expenses including due dates, which generally fall into two categories:
    • Fixed expenses do not change from month to month, such as rent, car loans, student loans, child support payments
    • Flexible expenses can vary from month to month, such as utilities, credit card payments, food, gas, and other personal expenses
  • The total amount of income and expenses subtracted from each other to see how much money is left over, that can be put away in savings account, a rainy day fund, or pay off outstanding debt
  • You can create a spending plan using a spreadsheet software or by listing all of the information on a calendar
  • If the traditional ways of creating a spending plan don’t work for you, you can try these options:
    • Expense Envelop System – useful if you pay bills in cash
      • Make an envelope with for each monthly expense by writing the name of the expense, the amount due, and the due date
      • Pay the bills right away so you are not tempted to spend the money
    • Budget Box System
      • A box or folder with dividers, with one divider for each day of the month
      • Whenever you receive a bill or know of an expense, but the bill or a reminder behind the divider of the due date
      • As you receive income, pay your bills in order as soon as possible to ensure all of your bills are paid

While we would like to always have a surplus of money, that might not always be the case.  Should you run into a situation where your expenses are greater than your income, consider the following:

  • Pay your necessary household expenses first, such as rent, mortgage, food, and utilities
    • Some utility companies have programs to lower your bill if you qualify
  • Prioritize your bills by thinking about the health and safety of your family
  • Seek assistance to help cover other expenses, such as credit counseling, government assistance programs, or loan deferments

For more information about personal finances and goal setting, you can talk to a representative from your bank or credit union, or visit MyMoney.gov.  For a copy of the presentation, CLICK HERE.  You can find a spending plan template HERE.

About Andrew Dauphinee

Education and learning are passions of mine. Lifelong learning is a core part of who I am and I strive to pass that desire for information on to everyone I meet. As the Instruction and Outreach Librarian, it is my goal to provide quality, informative, and relevant programming to meet the diverse needs of our patrons. Please contact me regarding programming at adauphinee@njstatelib.org.