Everyone has had a similar experience, where what should be a short, inexpensive shopping trip somehow balloons and leaves the shopper wondering what they bought and why. Shopping trips like these can be the downfall of a financial plan, and illustrate how easily those plans can be derailed.
"M&I is here to help consumers be financially fit and educated," said Lisa George, Senior Vice President, Regional Manager Consumer Banking, M&I. "We know that reining in spending can be the trickiest part of a financial plan, which is why we've developed a variety of educational resources." Keep reading to learn more about how to get control of your financial spending:
Taking control of spending is an essential ingredient to any financial plan, but it's easier said than done. M&I offers a few tips on how consumers can get control of their spending.
- Start by developing a budget based on your income. To create financial stability, it's crucial that your spending not outpace earnings. To do this, track your spending for a few months and write down where your money is going. From there, you can make any necessary adjustments to spending in order to bring spending in line with income. Once your budget is written, don't forget to check back periodically and ensure plans are still on track.
- Learn to distinguish between wants and needs. While it's nice to treat yourself, it's most important to live within your means. Wants are things that are nice to have, while needs are things that are really necessary to survive. Nearly half of Americans consider a cell phone a necessity and about a quarter say the same about cable, but whether those are really necessities is debatable.
- Control seasonal spending. Holidays, birthdays, and back-to-school spending can all put a dent in a savings account. To keep spending at a reasonable level, set budgets and priorities before the holidays hit. To gauge how much you'll spend in the coming year – and how much you'll need to save for it – review your previous year's expenses for holidays, wedding gifts, etc., and be sure that spending is accounted for in your budget.
- Don't give in to social spending. The scenarios are familiar, where a friend encourages spending on an expensive non-necessity, or friends regularly wanting to meet for dinner and drinks. While it can be fun to occasionally splurge, these social spending habits can really break the bank. To avoid overspending, create a fixed budget to cover discretionary spending on things like clothes and unexpected social outings.
- Raise your kids to be responsible spenders. Talk to them about your family budget and give them opportunities for real-life learning. Explain where the money comes from when you visit the ATM or write a check, along with the importance of paying bills on time.
BMO Financial Group has created informational websites for financial education. Helpful Steps®, www.bmoharris.com/helpfulsteps, helps consumers better manage their money and learn ways to improve their financial well-being. There's also a version for parents, http://community.bmoharris.com/helpful-steps-for-parents, with great ideas on raising financially smart kids.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!