Here we are in the New Year!

Paige Swan BrownMoney Talk

blog1Here we are in the New Year!

2016 holds so many promises and opportunities for families to achieve their goals and dreams. It is not as complicated as you may think! With the proper advice, guidance, and education, you can help develop your financial health. You can take the step toward your financial future by learning about managing your money.

Set financial goals:

Be specific! What are your goals for yourself and your family in regards to your finances? Knowing what you are working towards can help you to stay focused and to monitor your progress along the way. A few common financial goals include:

Be specific! What are your goals for yourself and your family in regards to your finances? Knowing what you are working towards can help you to stay focused and to monitor your progress along the way. A few common financial goals include:

  • Emergencies
  • Goal or big purchase such as:
  • House
  • Car
  • Vacation
  • Retirement
  • Education
  • Improve standard of living

Track Your Daily Spending:

Knowing where all of your money comes from (income) and where it all goes (expenses) every month will help you take control of your financial situation.

blog2There are four steps to preparing a spending plan:

  • Keep track of your daily spending – you might want to use a spreadsheet like this one to record your daily expenses.
  • Determine your monthly income and expenses.
  • Find ways to decrease spending.
  • Find ways to increase income.

Personal Spending Plan:

Prepare your worksheet on a monthly basis and it will help you determine your cash flow—which includes all of the money coming in and out. The goal is to have more coming in than going out.

Let’s look at this family, the Weavers, as an example.

First, they have listed their combined monthly income sources and income amounts. For this example, their monthly net wages—or take-home pay.

Be sure to consider whether your income sources are continuous or might stop in the near future. For example, if you receive unemployment benefits, keep in mind when you will stop receiving them. Remember to include tax refunds, bonus checks, and any other income that might be received quarterly, annually or at other non-monthly intervals.

In the case of the Weavers, Mr. Weaver brings home about $3,500 per month from his IT job and Mrs. Weaver works part time at the local nursery and earns $1,140 per month. In addition, they earn $10 per month from interest on investments.

Get into the habit of paying yourself first or setting aside a certain amount of money each month for savings when you pay your bills. You should set a savings goal that is appropriate for you and save toward it. An easy way to ensure you save is to set up direct deposit with regular transfers to your savings accounts.

blog3Whenever possible, try to pay more than the minimum amount on loans in order to pay them off sooner and save on interest charges. You may have control over some fixed expenses before you sign the initial agreement. Shop around for the best value before committing to payments such as: car payment, car insurance, loan payments, health insurance, cell phone plans, etc. If you have loans that are more than two years old then you may want to talk with your banker or Mortgage Company to determine if you are eligible for lower rates or a reduction in any applicable fees.

The next group of expenses to list is variable expenses. Remember to plan and save for expenses you pay once, twice or four times a year, such as car insurance or property taxes.

Decrease Spending, Increase Income:

  • One Week Rule:

When money is tight, hold off on all non-essential purchases for seven days. After waiting this period you may find that you’ve lost interest in some purchases

  • What are your budget busters?

blog4Most of us have a specific weakness for impulse spending. Figure out what your biggest impulse purchase is, and commit to thinking about whether it’s a want or a need before buying.

  • Find Freebies:

Instead of meeting friends at a coffee house, restaurant or mall, suggest that you get together for a walk or attend a free concert or museum event. With creativity it’s easy to keep your social life going strong– without spending money.

  • Rent instead of Buy:

Did you know that you can rent everything from handbags to power tools by using services from local retailers or Internet ads? If you’re thinking about buying something you’ll only need for a short time, this can be a great way to save money – and reduce household clutter at the same time!

blog5Ways to Save Money:

  • Bargain Hunting

Here are some tips for decreasing your spending by bargain hunting. It can save a lot of money and be a lot of fun. Keep in mind that a great bargain that is a want that you cannot afford may not be such a great bargain after all. Jot down ideas on your handout.

  • Comparison shop online before you buy. Use online to research the best prices retailers are offering.
  • Weigh quality vs. price. Sometimes a top-quality, higher-priced item can be a better value than one that’s cheaper. For instance, high-quality shoes that will last two or three seasons may be more of a bargain than an inexpensive pair that you’ll have to replace next year.
  • Wait for sales. To find out about retailers’ sales in advance, you can often sign up on their Web sites for e-mail alerts or ask the sales staff when you shop. Blogs can also offer great tips. To find out about bargains at your grocery store in advance, sign up for services that alert you to price-cuts on your favorite items. Whatever you’re shopping for, don’t let big discounts persuade you to buy things you don’t need or can’t afford.
  • Ask for a better deal on big-ticket items. If you are shopping for an appliance, always ask if the retailer offers unadvertised specials. Also inquire if the retailer will match a competitor’s advertised prices.
  • Save Money & Fuel Your Savings:

Did you know that if you saved $125 per month, at the end of 10 years you will have $15,000? Plus interest! For many people cutting $125 out of the monthly budget sounds daunting. Here are some ways to change your habits while creating the habit of saving.

  • Use a thermostat with a time and adjust your settings
  • Reduce water heater setting to 120 degrees
  • Insulate water heater and pipes
  • Use low-flow showerheads and toilets
  • Wash clothes in cold water, line dry
  • Find and fix air leaks and consider storm windows
  • Change furnace filters monthly

There are articles available on that cover ways to slash your grocery bill, tips for saving money during each month of the year and so much more. To read these and other interesting articles simply go to and select the Advice tab on the homepage.


Paige Swan Brown
Assistant Branch Manager – The Woodlands
9480 College Park Drive
The Woodlands, Texas 77384