Financial Literacy for Everyone

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It’s a balancing act.

You want to go out to the movies with your friends, but you also want to buy a new phone. How do you choose?

Start by setting your money goals and work towards achieving them with a plan in mind. A personal budget is a plan that helps you put the money you’ve earned towards savings, expenses (lunch money, bus money, entertainment, etc.), or debt (money you may have borrowed from your parents, friends or siblings).

When creating a budget, it is important to understand the difference between something you need to have and something you want to have.

Needs
Wants

Remember to take care of your needs first, so you can think about saving for what you want. A budget can help you not only consider your immediate needs and wants, but prepare for your long-term financial goals. You may have some short-term goals that you can achieve in a matter of weeks, or long-term goals that will take years to accomplish.

It all adds up.

Start creating a budget by tracking where your money goes over a specific time period.

To keep track, you can take pictures of your purchases, save your receipts or write a note each time you make a purchase. You might even have a bank account that keeps track of your purchases for you. At the end of the month, make a list of the purchases you’ve made. As you’re making this list, separate your expenses into categories. A ride on the bus would go under transportation. A slice of pizza, under food.

Complete the budget below by filling out how much money you earn and spend in a month. The goal of a budget is to have money left over for saving. If your total for saving is $0 or less, it’s time to rethink what you earn and spend.

Did you know?

If you save the $6 you might spend on popcorn during a monthly trip to the movies, you could have $72 by the end of the year.

Turn spending into saving.

The goal of a budget is to have money left to save.

Not sure where to cut back? Remember, the little things add up. Once you can see where your money goes, you may be surprised by certain categories where you are spending more than you thought. These can be good opportunities to cut back. That money you spent on a trip to the candy store might be better spent somewhere else, especially if you have $0 in your total savings for the month or worse — if you spent more than you earned.

Planning a budget helps you make choices about which goals you want to prioritize.

Consider whether you want to save for a short term, medium term, or long term goal like the examples provided.

Short term goal

A new book for school.

Medium term goal

A new winter coat.

Long term goal

A new stereo.

Every once in a while, something unexpected happens and you have to spend more money than you planned. Whether it’s something small like stepping on your sunglasses and having to buy a new pair, or something bigger like needing new tires for your bike, it’s always good to have money saved for a rainy day.