Money. We need it for everything in our day-to-day lives and it’s essential to preparing for our future. However, it seems like we never have enough of it. From planning this summer’s family vacation to planning for retirement, a lot goes into making sure you and your bank account are on the same page. By learning personal finance skills, such as making a budget, managing credits and debits, and investing, you will be much more prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Making a Budget
Let’s start with budgeting. A budget will be your best friend when it comes to spending your money as efficiently as possible. A budget is a plan for how you will spend your money and takes into account your expenses (bills, rent, etc.) and your income. A good simple framework when it comes to budgeting is the 50/30/20 Rule:
- 50% of your income on your needs (Bills, Rent, Mortgage)
- 30% on your wants (Restaurants, Clothing, Vacations)
- 20% for savings and debt repayment
This is just a simple framework, but it’s important you make a budget tailored to your lifestyle and goals. As long as you have an effective plan for how to spend your money, you’re off to a great start.
Sometimes life throws something unexpected at you and you can be caught totally off guard. For example, no one could see the pandemic coming, and unfortunately, it has caused a lot of economic turmoil, especially with quarantines and shutdowns. Thankfully, we’ve all come a long way since then. It’s always important to have an emergency fund that’s there to help you through life’s hardships.
An emergency fund should cover about 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses and the money should never be used for paying regular expenses. With an emergency fund, you ensure that you have enough money put away in case of any hardship such as losing a job, unexpected medical bills, or having a car break down.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are many scams around trying to lure you in and steal your money. Here are a few tips to ensure that you don’t fall victim to these scams:
1. Don’t give your personal information away to requests you didn’t expect:
Many scammers will pose as an organization you know such as Social Security or the IRS. Many times, the number they use is not the organization’s legitimate number and most organizations won’t call you and ask for your credit card or bank account information. Hang up and find a website or legitimate number online and give them a call to ensure you’re talking to the official organization.
2. Keep in mind how they’re asking you to pay:
Many times, scammers will ask you to pay them in odd methods such as gift cards or money transfer systems such as Moneygram or Western Union. Legitimate organizations will never ask you to repay them in these forms of payment.
3. Avoid clicking on links from unknown emails:
Clicking on links from unknown emails can lead to malware being downloaded on your device and will allow scammers to steal your information.
For computer and cell phone students at Mid-State Literacy Council, identifying scams is important as they begin to learn how to use their devices. Mid-State Literacy Council’s cell phone and computer tutors dedicate time during their tutoring sessions to answering questions about scams and to helping their students block and/or delete scam texts and emails. Learning more about scams and financial literacy can help everyone better prepare themselves for taking on the future!
By: Bryan Schott