AMES, Iowa – Is the money always gone before the month ends? Is buying a car – or anything else – only a dream, because you just can’t afford it? Anyone who answers yes to these questions may benefit from a spending plan, says Mary Weinand, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“The updated workbook, ‘Planning to $tay Ahead,’ outlines a step-by-step method to help you plan for spending and saving,” said Weinand, who specializes in family finance.
This 20-page publication is part of “Your Money, Your Future,” a series of workshops that help Iowans get more for their money and save for financial goals.
“A spending plan is a matter of balance between income and expenses, and it’s important to know about each category,” explained Weinand.
“Sometimes it’s a matter of knowing how much money and other resources you have available,” Weinand said.
Many people know how to keep track of their steady paycheck, but may not be aware of other resources that might be available to them. Using the exercises found in the workbook, people can brainstorm additional possible resources, such as free and reduced-price lunches, or food assistance programs that can help stretch dollars so there is money available to cover other expenses.
“The Planning to $tay Ahead workbook provides valuable budgeting insight, with a spending plan worksheet that is divided into categories for housing, food, transportation, etc. Using the worksheet, you can plan your expected expenses each month and calculate your total monthly expenses. If your expenses are more than your income, then it’s time to look at ways to balance your spending plan by increasing your income or decreasing expenses,” Weinand said.
Most people have some periodic expenses as well as monthly expenses, and the workbook provides a useful exercise to help manage these expenses. Periodic expenses come due throughout the year instead of just monthly, such as holiday gifts, quarterly insurance payments or school fees.
“Although the payments are not monthly – we need to plan for these expenses thoughtfully and set aside money so we are not short the month they come due. This takes some planning on our part, to look ahead and review our expenses for the entire year,” Weinand said.
Planning to $tay Ahead (PM 1924) is available from the ISU Extension and Outreach online store, either for purchase or as a free pdf download. To learn more about family finance information, contact any ISU Extension and Outreach county office to be connected with a human sciences specialist in family finance.