According to a recent national survey, Americans say they live comfortably but their
worries about personal finances have increased.
In an effort to decrease the stress of worry and prepare for the future, more Americans
are working to develop financial plans. All financial plans, regardless of how elaborate
or detailed, are based on the same two-prong approach.
Spend less.. Save more.
Participating in the Credit Advisors Debt Management Programs puts you steps ahead
in the financial planning race!
Delivery of the spend less and save more plan is developed through budgeting, eliminating
waste, decreasing debt, goal setting, and savings programs. In a Credit Advisors
DMP, a budget is determined at the initiation of the program, seeking to eliminate
waste, goals are set and the principle purpose of the program is to decrease debt.
Simply stated, completing the Debt Management Program, enables a financial planning
consumer to meet four out the five guideposts.
Continued efforts to eliminate waste, to spend less, will require a complete examination
of spending habits and motivations. Just like a business, you must review your inventory.
Do have you possessions you paid too much for, didn’t really need or are already
bored with and no longer use? Do you have possessions you called ‘great buys’
when purchased, but now are unable to remember why? Do you periodically examine
your spending, looking toward eliminating waste? Do you analyze your living expences
to see where savings could be realized? If not, there are some adjustments you may
want to make.
Learn to distinguish between wants and needs. Needs are necessary to sustain family
life (food, shelter, clothing), while wants enhance or improve family life. It is
critically important that you do not deceive yourself into believing that a want
is a need. Many budgets are broken by this mistake and it is a recipe for financial
Before making big ticket purchases borrow, rent or tryout the item to eliminate
Start a saving program. Talk to your employer about pre-tax savings programs.
Remember: pay yourself first. Don’t worry that the amount is too small. The
habit of saving will be created, regardless of the amount. Remember, $50 a month
for 25 years at a 5% yield would grow to $30,000. Not only does the DMP program
assist you in decreasing debt, it also helps to develop the habit of setting a specified
amount of money aside each month. Once debt is paid in full, those funds can easily
be contributed to a more extensive savings plan.
Each of the first four guideposts will assist you in the fifth. Setting and reaching
your goals will motivate you toward progress. Talk to you credit counselor about
the short and long term goals of your DMP. So, stick to your plan. Get out of debt
with Credit Advisors and continue your efforts toward a workable and growing financial
Credit Advisors Foundation client care and enrollment credit counselors recently
received national recognition for quality of service and commitment to consumer
education. Professional certification was awarded by Arbor Investment in Financial
Education to a number of CAF staff members. Certification is an annual award to
acknowledge superior training, debt management knowledge, as well as, high ethical
standards. Recipients of the certification award must also demonstrate exceptional
communication skills, appreciation of client dynamics, client/counselor relations
and advanced risk reduction skills and abilities. Congratulations to all recipients!
If your old enough to remember when full service gas stations were the ‘norm’,
you’ll also remember when using the self-serve gas pump seemed daring and
avantgarde. We’ve come a long way to show we are independent, self-reliant,
determined and money smart. As the cost of living increased, consumers adjusted.
The 1980’s found consumers deciding just how much money we were willing to
pay for convenience, the latest trends and instantaneous results, while the 1990’s
found us determining how much time we were willing to commit to getting the best
price and saving money. Now, it seems that simply making ends meet requires a 24/7
life-commitment to fiscally responsible living, researching money saving tips and
lowest prices, with no slip ups.
So why is everyone so afraid of the B word. Budget (gasp!). Individuals,
families, corporations, and governments seem to have developed similar budget baggage.
Here are a few examples of common budget plans.
The Simple Flow Budget: The money comes in, and the money gets spent.
The 007 Budget: So secret, no participating party has any idea what it is.
(We could tell you, but then…).
The Neighborhood Watch Budget: See what your neighbors do and do the same.
The Brad Pitt Budget: we have no idea, but we like Brad Pitt.
Sorry folks, these are excuses, not budgets.
As a consumer community, we choose to view a budget as a strict financial diet rather
than the special menu to the event of the season. We perceive budgeting as
a loss of freedom and pleasure and decidedly un-fun. But left to ourselves, most
people spend 10% above their income, resulting in more debt.
Creating a workable budget does a lot more than help you get control of your money.
A budget helps in the development and realization of short term and long term goals.
It also allows you to get a grip on the habits (both thinking and spending) and
the beliefs that can sabotage your budget and the achievement of your goals. Budgets
don’t work for three different reasons.
1. Guessing-a lack of accurate data to formulate budget. Collect accurate data for
a realistic plan.
2. Adjustments-budgets are living breathing things, change is inevitable and budgets
must be adjusted in a timely manner.
3. Giving up too soon-most common problem, going over the budget by 10%. (There’s
that 10% again). This budget is still workable. The budget must be reviewed
Focusing your strategy on the area of budget where the greatest overage occurred
will be necessary. Most of all, don’t give in. Accept the challenge. Be creative
with your budget planning. It may not be giddy fun, but mastering your budget can
bring you big rewards as you reach your goals.
Credit Advisors and Financial Planning
Although, the challenge to create a financial plan can be a lot of work, it doesn’t
have to be drudgery. Your Credit Advisors DMP gives your financial plan a jump start
and direction. Make use of the financial educational materials available through
your credit counselor to increase your knowledge and skills. Through determination
your plan will come to fruition. Word Search this month for expressions related
to Financial Planning.
Object of the game: How to give and receive change.
What you’ll need: Four small shallow boxes, five dollars worth of change,
a five dollar bill, and a bag of non-perishable groceries with a ‘price tag’
on each item.
How to play: Set up the boxes and separate the change into pennies, nickels,
dimes and quarters. Start this game with your child as the cashier and you playing
the customer. Choose one item in the grocery bag to purchase. Give your child the
five dollar bill and the item and help them give you the change. Exchange rolls
and play again. As your child becomes more comfortable, gradually increase the number
of items you purchase. Variations: To make determining the correct change a little
more interesting, have your child create ‘coupons’ for your grocery
store or decide on ‘sales’. (If you set up a sale at three for a dollar,
explain to your child why the price would not be thirty-three and one third cents
but would be rounded up to thirty-four cents.) Another option would be to intentionally
attempt to purchase more than your allotted funds. Have your child help you determine
what must be put back, to keep the total under five dollars.
Even if using coupons, don’t forget to comparison shop. Other brands, including
generic brands may beat the price of the name brand, even with the coupon. Of course,
don’t buy anything just because you have a coupon.
Avoid shopping at convenience stores. You pay for the convenience.
(See Back to Basics)
Cook your own food instead of eating prepared food. (The more processed—the more
treated or handled by someone other than you—food is before is gets to your table,
the more expensive it is per serving).
Be creative with leftovers. Combine to create new meals (soups or stews) or have
Thursday night ‘Buffet’ and eat up the extras as a sample platter.
Shop at the store that is least expensive overall. Identical grocery orders purchased
in different stores may vary as much as 10 to 15%.
Slow cookers can be the budget-conscious cooks best friend. They prefer less expensive
cuts of meat, and produce moist tender meals. Since they require less electricity
than conventional ovens, they do not over-heat up your house like an oven or stove
Country Scalloped Potatoes and Ham cost $1.13 per serving at the neighborhood market.
Yield: 10 servings.
Lightly grease slow cooker
Layer 1/2 potatoes, onion and ham in cooker
Top with half of cheddar cheese
Combine gravy mix, soups (and water). Whisk until combined.
Pour over potato layers
Cover. Cook on Low 7-9 hours, or High 3-4 hours.
Sprinkle individual servings with paprika.