Extension Home Economist: money-managing tips
Reading the newspapers, listening to the radio or TV or just talking over the back fence, you get the idea that the high cost of living centers exclusively on the rising food prices. The fact is, however, the budget squeeze is evident in housing, clothing, transportation and medical care. So there’s a lot more to making the paycheck stretch than using good common sense at the grocery store.
Taking the total cost of living into consideration, home economists at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Athens have come up with ten tips to help you prevent money problems. Granted, none of them will make you rich, but putting them into practice can help you stretch the shrinking dollar. Here’s what the experts advise.
Don’t let your installment payments take more than 20 percent of your income. A safer amount would be about 15 percent.
Keep your food budget in the 20 to 25 percent bracket, and this includes eating away from home. The secret here is to plan a fixed budget and stick to it. It takes careful planning and a resistance to impulse buying and convenience foods, but you can do it.
Renting or housing costs should not exceed your weekly pay.
When you are buying appliances or household furnishings on installment plans, it’s wise not to extend the payments too long. One year is better than two.
Pay cash, or within the month, for things like food, medicines, clothing, transportation and entertainment.
Don’t become too set in your shopping habits. Try new supermarkets, clothing stores and service stations to see if you’re paying the right amount for your purchases. Don’t use too many credit cards. It’s easier to manage your budget when you have one or two cards.
Don’t be ashamed to buy secondhand. Many household items – chests, mirrors, chairs, tables, etc. —can be refinished to look as good as new.
Plan ahead on major expenses like school tuition, quarterly or annual life insurance premiums, holidays and vacations.
Keep track of your money balance at all times. For example, you should know right now how much money you have in your wallet and in your bank account.
I have a handy, wallet-size record in the office. “Keep Account Of What You Charge” is the name of this record.
This advice, with a little change in wording, is as good now as it was in 1974.