Saving and Budgeting

Planning your budget is the first step in managing your expenses and saving for the future. It’s a simple concept, but often easier said than done: spend less than you make.

Step 1: Identify and evaluate how you currently spend your money.

  • Do you make impulse purchases?

  • Do you spend more than you make?

  • Do you have costly habits?

Step 2: Within the constraints of your annual income, set short-term and long-term financial goals and determine how much you can allocate to each of the following:

  • Expenses (e.g., Housing, transportation, food, entertainment, personal health, debt payments)

  • Savings (e.g., emergency fund, retirement)

Step 3: Track spending to make sure you are meeting your goals.

  • You may want to use budgeting software or online services to help automate some of your tracking.

If your student loan payment is greater than 10 or 15 percent of your income, contact MOHELA to explore a different repayment option.

As you get more comfortable monitoring your expenses, you may need to modify your budget. For example, if your income isn’t keeping up with your expenses and savings goals, some of your goals may be unrealistic and you may need to take action to slash your expenses.

You may be able to reduce expenses by doing some of these:

  • Set your thermostat lower or higher depending on the season

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room

  • Reduce your cable services

  • Brown-bag your lunch

  • Don’t smoke

  • Reduce your alcohol consumption

  • Use coupons

  • Entertain on a budget (rent movies, invite friends over for a potluck, visit free local attractions)

  • Take advantage of early bird and happy hour specials

  • Make homemade gifts