Manage Your Money
Budget, Save & Invest
Take control of your spending and saving by following a budget and forming a savings habit. This will help you to reach your short term and long term goals, and become financially prepared for life events and unplanned or emergency needs.
Hints and Tips
- One way to develop a savings habit is to pay yourself first. This means that each pay period, before you are tempted to spend money, commit to putting some in a savings account.
- Consider setting up automatic transfers of an amount that you specify from your SBMC checking account to your SBMC savings account.
- People who keep track of their savings often save more because it is on their minds.
- Build an emergency savings fund to cover your needs for at least three months.
- Plan for short-term and long term goals such as retirement, children’s education and other major life events.
- If you are making investments, it is good to consult with a qualified professional.
- It is helpful to track your spending over a few weeks or months to get a handle on how you are using your money. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about your spending habits.
- Set the maximum amount you plan to spend each week or each month and stick with your plan.
- Be a smart shopper by comparing prices and quality.
- Live within your means.
- Be careful not to let a sale or discount coupon persuade you to purchase something you don’t really need and that isn’t in your spending plan.
- When planning a big purchase take time to comparison shop and check prices.
Creating a Budget
The key to a good budget is including as much information as you can, so that you can adequately prepare and plan. It's important to keep accurate records of your spending so you'll spot places where you can save money and know how much you can reasonably spend.
What is your current income?
The first step in creating a budget is to total all of your income. We recommend you do this on a monthly basis. Include only your take home pay (this is your salary minus taxes and deductions). Your income may also include tips, child support, investment income, etc.
What are your monthly expenses? Next, you'll need to track your expenses, or money going out. Some of your bills will vary from month-to-month, so use a monthly average. For example, if your cell phone is $45 one month and $55 the next, estimate $50 per month. For annual bills, divide the yearly cost by 12 for a monthly figure.
How much of your income should be spent? Rent or mortgage payments plus your credit obligations – should not exceed 35 to 40 percent of gross monthly income. The amount you owe on credit cards, monthly car payment, student loans and other monthly payments should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of your take-home pay.
Put it in writing. Document and categorize your expenses. Tally up everything you spend money on. Don't forget your daily coffee or snacks. Those can add up quickly!
Do the math. The last step in creating your budget is to total all of your expenses and subtract them from your total income.
How’d You Do?
Did you have money left over at the end of the month – or too much month left at the end of the money?
If your income and expenses are EQUAL...
- You might be living paycheck to paycheck. Cut expenses and develop a savings plan in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses.
- If your income and expenses equal each other, but only because you're using credit to survive and paying only minimums each month, you may need to talk to a debt counseling service to help you get back on the track to live within your means.
If you have MONEY LEFTOVER at the end of the month…
- You're doing a good job of managing your expenses. Here are some suggestions for the leftover money:
- Open a savings account at the bank.
- If you already have a savings account, consider setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account.
- Also investigate whether your employer offers a 401(k) or other employee matching savings plan. The contribution you make to this type of account is taken out of your paycheck before taxes.
If your total was negative and you DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY…
- You need to make adjustments immediately. Keep in mind that it's usually easier to cut back on expenses than to increase your income. Analyze your budget to see where you can cut expenses – especially from the Looking Good and Just for Fun categories. Often those are the easiest things to cut from your budget.
- Call your utility, phone, cable, cell phone providers. There may be ways to cut those bills that just take a phone call.
- Consider increasing your income by getting a second part-time job or by working overtime.
You can take charge of your finances and your life by setting financial goals, planning a budget and sticking to it.
Information provided by the American Bankers Association, www.aba.com
Credit Card Facts & Tips
Credit cards have become an everyday tool for people to make purchases and manage their personal finances. Access to credit cards enables individuals and families to deal with emergencies, obtain goods and services and build a credit history for larger purchases such as a car or home. Today, roughly 73 percent of all families have at least one credit card. About 60 percent of cardholders are “convenience users” – they avoid interest charges by paying balances in full each month.
Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions, as well as a list of credit card tips you should keep in mind.
What is an Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
- For credit cards, the Annual Percentage Rate or APR is basically the interest rate. The APR is applied to your balance to calculate the interest you owe. The dollar amount of interest you owe is shown as a finance charge on your billing statement for any month you are charged interest.
What is the grace period on purchases?
- Most credit cards give you the chance to avoid interest on purchases (in effect, an interest-free loan) if you pay your credit card bill in full by the due date. This is called the grace period on purchases. The grace period is the period between the date of the purchase and the due date. To get it, you usually must pay your bill in full every month. When the grace period does not apply to purchases, you will pay interest on the purchases from the date of the transaction. Most credit cards do not give you a grace period on cash advances and balance transfers. You usually pay interest from the date of each cash advance or balance transfer.
What happens to the grace period if you paid in full one month and the following month you do not pay in full?
- If you do not pay in full one month, you will lose the grace period. Typically, you will owe interest from the first day of the billing period in which you did not pay in full. This means that if you paid in full in January, but only paid part of the bill in February, you will pay interest from the first day of February based on the full average daily balance for the February billing period when your bill arrives in March.
What if I only pay the minimum amount due?
- If you consistently pay only the minimum on your credit card, it will take you a long time to pay off the balance. You may end up paying a lot of interest. The amount of interest will depend on your APR and the amount of your balance. Pay as much as you can, as soon as you can, and always pay by the due date.
What if I do not pay on time?
- If you do not pay at least the minimum amount due, credit cards will charge a late fee. Paying late may also cause your APRs to increase.
How do I know what my credit limit is?
- The credit card company will tell you your credit limit when you first get your card. Over time, based on your needs, usage, and qualifications, the limit may change. Your current credit limit appears on your billing statement each month.
What happens if I go over my credit limit?
- If you go over your credit limit, you may have to pay a fee. In addition, your APRs may increase. Be aware that you may go over your credit limit even if the transaction is authorized. So keep track of your transactions and how close you are to your limit.
What types of fees might I pay?
- Annual fees
- Late fees
- Returned payment fees
- Cash advance fees (using ATM or convenience checks)
- Balance transfer fees
- Foreign transaction fees
- Expedited card replacement fees
Shop around for the best card for your needs
- You will find a range of interest rates, rewards programs and terms.
- The interest rate, penalty fees, annual fee and grace period all play a factor in your total cost.
Pay as much as you can, as soon as you can, and always pay by the due date
- If you do not pay your balance in full, pay the remainder off as soon as you can, do not wait for the due date.
- Keep track of your balance by checking it online or by phone.
- Take into account that interest accrued can put you over your credit limit.
To avoid paying your bill late:
- Schedule automatic payments online, mail payments at least one week before the due date or pay by phone (you may be charged a fee for paying by phone if it involves expedited service).
- Call your credit card company if you are going to pay late; they may offer alternatives.
If you realize you have a credit problem, don’t panic, but do act quickly:
- Make a budget and be realistic.
- Let creditors know you want to pay. They may help arrange a new schedule.
- Local Consumer Credit Counseling Services can help (800-388-2227).
Information provided by the American Bankers Association, www.aba.com