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Feature Articles: Budgeting & Saving


Creating and following a spending plan makes finances easier


SpreadsheetCreating a spending plan and following it is a simple way to take control of one’s finances, according to Nellie Lamers, family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.


“It is simple, but I would not say easy,” said Lamers. “There are a few things that are hard about creating a spending plan, including sitting down and doing it, figuring out your income and expenses, and sticking with it.”


According to Lamers, five basic tips can make the process easier.


First, take some time to consider your values. Whether we know it or not, our values play a big part in how we handle our money. Consider this example, say one of your main priorities in life is your family, how does this priority affect your finances?


“It may be you want to spend more time with your children, so you don’t work more or take a second job so you can have more time with them. We all hold different values depending on how we were raised and what’s happened in our lives,” said Lamers.


Second, write down your goals and decide on goals both individually and as a family. Simply writing down your goals gives you a much greater chance of achieving them.


“Figure out how much they will cost and how much you’ll need to save each month to get there. Make sure the amount is realistic; adjust the monthly amount and/or the number of months if necessary,” said Lamers.


Third, track your income and expenses. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what our income and expenses are; however, most of us also have spending leaks.


Lamers suggests taking 60 days to write down every penny spent. Add up what you spent by category at the end of the month and ask, “is the money you spent in each category working as hard for you as you do for it?”


Fourth, consider needs, wants and fixed, variable and periodic expenses. “It is easy to tell ourselves we need something but if you take the question seriously it can put things in perspective,” said Lamers.


Fifth, create your spending plan and write it down. Use the University of Missouri Extension publication “GH3830 Managing Your Money” (download the free pdf) as it offers helpful information and worksheets for creating your plan.


For more information on issues related to personal finances, contact either of the MU Extension family financial education specialists in southwest Missouri: Janet LaFon, Jasper County Extension Center, 417-358-2158, or Nellie Lamers (story source), Taney County Extension Center, 417-546-4431,


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Last update: Thursday, October 29, 2015