To manage your money better this year, Michael Rupured, a financial specialist with UGA’s Cooperative Extension, offers the following tips:
• Know where your money goes. Find out how much money comes in and exactly where it goes. Carry a pad with you for a month or two. Record every purchase. At the end of the month, separate your spending into categories such as food, housing and transportation.
• Target eyebrow-raising surprises for spending cuts.
• Set realistic and specific goals, such as planning to save $600 by December for holiday gifts. The goal is realistic if you can afford to set aside $50 each month. If you cannot, adjust the goal or increase your income.
• Develop a plan for spending to meet goals. Besides goals, your spending plan needs to include fixed, variable and occasional expenses.
• Pay yourself first. Saving whatever is left over usually means not saving at all.
• Eliminate debt. Pay attention to how much you pay in monthly finance charges on credit card and other debt. Instead of paying interest each month on your debt, you could be earning it on your savings.
• Focus on one expense at a time. Commit to making a few changes at a time to reduce your spending for a particular expense. Stick with the changes until they become second nature.