Things come around and go around again and again. Fashions, hairstyles, eyewear, you name it. Once you’ve been on the planet for awhile, you see things you had or wore or did as a young person come around again.
Although, with technology, many old things have gone by the wayside, and probably won’t make an appearance again unless our world undergoes a major backslide.
Bridging the generation gap can be a challenge when trying to teach people with budgeting. Granted, you don’t have to use pen and paper, but getting it all in one place and writing things down is a big part of getting finances under control; there’s something about having it all in a format that you can pick up and touch, erase, re-write. Something concrete to hold onto can make it seem more real.
When we teach budgeting classes we use what we call tipsheets. A budget tracking sheet, a payday planning sheet, a net worth calculating sheet, goal setting sheets, and so on and so forth. Sometimes students or clients look at these papers and then look at me with quizzical expressions as if to say, “You want me to write this down? On actual paper? With a pen??”
And the answer is yes. On actual paper, with a pen. Maybe a pencil.
When we get it all down in one place, it can be an eye opener. Sometimes it’s in a good way, sometimes it’s not. But that awareness is the beginning of change. If I’m having trouble keeping track of my money, having to write it down is going to help my brain realize that there may be a lot going on that I’m not aware of.
I don’t think paper checks will ever make much of a comeback, but using a check register can still be helpful. Most people now use debit cards to make everyday purchases, and most don’t use a register. That can still help though, because for one, it’s easier than hanging onto receipts. Plus, most of us have a number of automatic payments that come out. Many of us probably also use our online banking to check our accounts on a regular basis, and sometimes people just go by the balance on the screen. If we’re not marking those automatic debits down somewhere to keep track, we might not leave enough money in our account to cover it. Actually, I’ve had a few clients that have done this, and it can become a major headache with overdrafts and important payments being returned by the bank.
While starting out on paper can be important, there are many ways you can make it easier using technology. Apps or websites like mint.com, Goodbudget.com, PocketGuard are out there and all can help you to manage your money in a way that works for you. Me? I use a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet. There are also computer programs like Quicken, Moneydance and Gnucash that can be used on a desktop computer or laptop, or a phone. Some are free, others are not, but most have a trial period so you can see if you like the program or not.
However you decide to track your money, just do it. Even a budget that isn’t perfect is better than no budget at all, because it gets us thinking about where the money is going. That means we can make better decisions about how we spend and what we do with the money we have.
Need some help getting that budget off the ground? The counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help. Contact us to make at appointment at 1-888-258-2227 or on our website at http://www.lsssd.org.
Don’t worry, we’ve got pencils.
Written by Sylvia Selgestad, Financial Counselor and Educator
Photo credit: blogspot.com
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
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