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Improving Financial Literacy: Budgeting 201

Monday, February 9 2015 12:00am

Weekly financial literacy advice from Mr. Harry Greenfield, the Robert and Rene Glidden Visiting Professor at the College of Business. Topics will include credit basics, understanding loans, debt management, the importance of saving and more.

Tags: Finance

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YOUR WALLET — Last week's column addressed the bare goals of drawing up a budget. This week, let's examine ways to actively reach those goals.

Does budgeting seem too daunting to pursue?  At the end of the week do you wonder what happened to your money?  Here is a simple an easy way to track what you spend.  Take a piece of notebook paper and fold it in half width wise.  Next, fold it in half length wise.  Then fold it in half again.  This will leave you 8 squares.  At the top of the of each square write Mon., Tue, etc.  On the eighth square write ToDo.  Now carry this piece of paper wherever you go.  On Sunday when you buy a cup of coffee, write "coffee $1.25."  Each time you spend money write it on that piece of paper.  Over the course of a month, you see where your money is going.  This procedure is also good for limiting your spending.  If you have to write down what you spend, you will spend less on frivolous items.
 
When you think of something that you have to do — a homework assignment, buy laundry detergent — write it down on the eighth square.  Carrying the piece of paper with you and forcing yourself to write what you spend, will create discipline so that you will be able to live within the budget you have created.

For the high-tech among you, "there's an app for that." There are several apps available both on Andriod and iOS platforms to streamline your budgeting process. Some examples are the following:

  • Level Money (Andriod, iOS, FREE) This "mobile money meter" offers easy, streamlined budgeting with fixed categories.
  • BUDGT (iOS, $.99) Clean interface, offers "hard and fast" budgeting options, great for students or people with small incomes
  • Expense Manager (Android, FREE) Bare bones options will get you through, add-ons for tracking spending history available for purchase
  • You Need a Budget (Android, iOS, app FREE, desktop program offers 30-day trial) Must purchace the desktop program first, apps sync seamlessly, budgeting classes available 
  • Mint.com Personal Finance (Andriod, iOS, FREE) One of the most popular, more complicated interface, but great for seeing "big picture" financing beyond a daily budget 

Does spending less seem like it takes all of the fun out of living?  There are thousands of things that you can do for free.  Since being on campus, I have attended two wonderful Kennedy Lectures.  For the cost of a beer, I have been able to sit and listen to music.  Bargains abound.
 
There are also websites that deal with cutting out all of the items that are not necessary.  One of these sites, MrMoneyMustache.com has numerous tips.  The founder had a goal to cut his spending and increase his savings so that he can retire by 40.  While that is not a goal I would pursue, it may sound good to some of you.  Think of all of the options you will have if as a result of saving you could retire at 40.  This would open up all sorts of career opportunities.  You could try your hand at something you always wanted to do.
 
Who knows, maybe you could even become a visiting professor.

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Mr. Harry Greenfield is the Robert and Rene Glidden Visiting Professor in the College of Business. He is teaching Accounting 4900 this semester, a course he styles as “Alternative Careers for Accountants.” A practicing lawyer for over 45 years, Greenfield teaches bankruptcy law at Cleveland State University.

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 UPCOMING EVENT: Mr. Greenfield will be sharing more of his financial literacy tips Monday, February 16 at 7 p.m. in Baker Theater. This event is open to the public. Click here for more information.