Common Cents ways to manage household finances were covered in the Ashland Community and Technical College staff conference held June 1. The conference experts have agreed to share some of their tips to make your money go farther.
The first thing in money management is to make sure your goals and your spending habits match, says Dr. Jennifer Hunter, a State Extension agent for Family Financial Management and Assistant Professor in the University of Kentuckys Department of Family Studies. She is an Ashland native and 1996 Paul G. Blazer High School graduate.
Money management is not all about stocks, bonds, and investments, she said. It is about day-to-day steps in managing your money and developing the habits of purposeful spending.
1. Spend according to your values.
Think about the things that are important to you, such as church, a safe home for your family, a childs education or retirement. Then compare that to the way you are spending your money. If there is a difference between where your money goes and what you want it to do, you may want to reconsider your spending habits.
2. Set financial goals.
Financial goals indicate specific things that you want to accomplish. They should be written down and posted someplace that you will see on daily basis. Goals should be measurable, with a specific amount for a specific purchase, such as $1,000 for a vacation next summer. Goals should be within your reach, and not something that depends on chance, such as winning the lottery. Finally, goals should have a time line so that you know how long you have to achieve the goal.
3. Track your expenses.
Once you identify financial goals, track your expenses for at least a week, or a month if you can. Often people know their fixed expenses, such as monthly mortgage, rent or car payments, but not their flexible expenses such as groceries, gasoline or entertainment.
You also need to assess occasional expenses, such as holiday spending or back to school shopping. Total all occasional expenses for the year and divide by 12. This tells you how much to save each month to pay those expenses.
After you have tracked your expenses and know where your money goes, you can decide if that is how you want to keep spending it.
4. Develop a Spending Plan
Compare your total expenses to your income. If expenses exceed income, you can increase your income (with a second job or additional hours), decrease your expenses or do some of both.
Develop a plan on paper for how you want to spend your money for the next month. Track expenses to determine if your reality matches your plan. Once specific goals are reached, you can set new ones.
Often individuals feel as if they have an income problem, i.e. if they only made more money, things would be great. However, without positive money management practices, individuals will struggle regardless of income. How money is managed is just as important as the amount of money.
Peggy Bradley, ACTC Professor and Culinary Arts Program Coordinator, has tips on ways to save at the grocery store.
1. Check all of your local sales papers. Make your menus for the up-coming week based on what is on sale.
2. Before you leave home to shop, take inventory of what you have on hand. People often cannot remember what they have on hand, and you do not need to buy more of what you already have.
3. Take along an ice cooler in the hot summer months if the trip home will take longer than just a few minutes. Exposure to temperatures above 41 degrees F accelerates the spoilage of perishable foods and shortens the storage time.
4. Never shop when you are hungry. When we are hungry, everything looks delicious and we end up buying things we dont need.
5. Never shop without the list of what you actually need. Otherwise you will buy things you dont need and will not get some of the items that you really do need.
6. Stay out of aisles that dont have something you need. This will help you avoid impulse purchases.
7. Buy meat and seafood only when on sale. If you buy large cuts on sale, you can have several meals from that purchase. For example, you can buy a half or whole pork loin on sale, cut half into chops and use the rest as a pork roast. Leftover pork roast can then be made into BBQ sandwiches or a stir-fry meal.
8. Organically grown foods generally cost more, but scientific studies show that traditionally grown foods have the same nutritional value as those that are labeled organic. Consider your needs and budget when selecting produce.
9. Buying in bulk can save on trips to the store. Make sure that you have the storage space for additional purchases and that staples such as flour, sugar and canned foods are stored at temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees F. This will keep insects from hatching and extend the shelf life of the food.
10. Get more nutrition for your dollar by buying more whole grains when you buy bread, cereal or pasta. Whole grains have increased levels of antioxidants, increased amounts of vitamins and minerals and other health benefits which science is just beginning to understand.
Professor Bradley, a Grayson resident who started at the college in 2000, has another health tip that has nothing to do with food: park further away from the store entrance than usual, but only if you feel it to be safe. Walking a little longer distance will help get a little more physical activity into the day.
Libraries are free, and often underused, resources in every community, said Amanda Gilmore, Community Relations Coordinator for Boyd County Public Library (BCPL). A library is not just for books and information, its also for digital entertainment and group activities.
Free resources available at to BCPL card holders include the checkout of books, audiobooks, eReaders, music, movies, games and magazines. Local, state and national newspapers are available at any branch, and the website features downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks, mobile apps and many useful databases. BCPL has branches in Ashland, Catlettsburg and the KVOYA Mall.
From newborns to senior citizens we have something to please everyone, said Jamie Bayne, BCPL Information Services Supervisor. We have Wifi, public access computers with free Internet, book nooks, free meeting rooms and a splash fountain for children to play in during the summer.
Online services include Mango Languages for self-paced language learning, animated talking Tumblebooks for children, Sync audiobooks that can be synchronized to headphones, AudioBookCloud access to hundreds of full-length streaming audiobooks, Freegal music downloads, Freading eBook checkout service with no waiting, and the Rocket Languages learning system that includes Sign Language.
DVDs and other materials not available locally can be borrowed from other libraries at no charge through the Interlibrary Loan program. Loan services from genealogical and historical societies are also available to those researching their family trees.
The Library also offers free programs and activities, including crafts, tutoring, family movie nights, public interest classes, six book clubs and Summer Reading programs for kids through adults.
BCPL has reciprocal agreements with libraries in the Tristate area, so those who live outside of Boyd County can get a free BCPL card if they have a library card in good standing, a valid photo ID and a piece of mail dated within the last 30 days.
Gilmore and Bayne invite people to visit the library at thebookplace.org for a list of free summer events, and to find out more about library activities on the BCPL blogs, Facebook, Twitter and youtube.
Bayne, a second generation librarian, is a Paul G. Blazer graduate with a Masters in Library Science Degree from Morehead State University. Gilmore is a Toledo, OH native with 20 years of experience in the newspaper businesses. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and teaches part-time at area colleges.