If you’re not a fan of the word budget, you’re not alone. A lot of people don’t like it because it seems limiting. You’re making money and deserve to treat yourself once in a while, right? But you probably want to do so within reason. That’s where a spending plan (not a budget!) can help.
Strategies to Spend Smarter
- Figure your discretionary income. Calculate the costs you have each month that do not change: rent/mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, electricity and groceries (use an average cost). Subtract this amount from your monthly take home pay. What is left is your discretionary income — money to use at your discretion.
- Look to the future. Do you want to take a vacation this year? Buy new furniture? Pay off your student loans? Having big goals in mind will give you motivation to …
- … pay yourself first. With a spending plan, it’s true you have the choice on how to spend your money, but financial experts recommend “spending” some on yourself right away by putting money into your savings account each month. Have a certain amount automatically transferred from your checking to savings each month; it’s easy and painless.
- List your needs and wants. If your car is due for an oil change and it’s your child’s birthday, those expenses likely need to come ahead of purchasing the latest smartphone. Your goal should be to spend wisely each month without having to reach for a credit card. Credit card debt is not part of a spending plan, unless it’s something you can pay off in full the following month.
- Keep tabs on your spending. Part of spending wisely is tracking your expenses, and noticing if you have funds available for a special treat or for saving. You can monitor your Navigator checking, savings and loan accounts anytime with ‘N Touch Online Banking, and it’s easy to transfer funds. You can also sign up to receive e-Alerts by email or text to warn you if your checking account balance is getting low.
To learn more about how Navigator can help you manage your money wisely, set up an appointment today to meet with a Navigator Certified Financial Counselor. You can also visit the Learning page on www.navigatorcu.org for more information on our BALANCESM Financial Fitness Program.