University of Tennessee Extension educators are encouraging individuals to take control of finances and focus on creating or beefing up their emergency savings during Tennessee Saves Week, Feb. 23-28, 2015.
Is there a still, small voice telling you that you really need to get control of your finances? If so, financial education experts with The University of Tennessee Extension say you really should be listening.
Dr. Dena Wise, Professor and Extension Specialist with UT Extension, believes that most people ignore their best instincts when they overspend. “Making a spontaneous decision to overspend may be a symptom of the deeper problem of not having financial control,” she says.
In order to decide if you need to beef up control of your finances, Wise recommends that you ask yourself five simple questions:
- Sometimes, do I buy things without knowing for sure that I can afford them?
- Do I make spending decisions without really having a plan?
- Do I often have less than $1,000 in my checking account?
- Do I carry a balance on my credit cards from month to month?
- Do I sometimes not have enough money to pay bills when they are due?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you need to set financial goals to bring your finances under better control.
Wise says there is a methodical approach to doing this. “The first step is to track what you spend for a few weeks. Like keeping track of what you eat, recording expenditures in a journal or electronic device can help you understand not only how much you spend and for what, but also why you spend. It’s a good idea, especially for the first week or so, to make notes on each spending or saving decision. Before and afterwards, did you feel satisfied, anxious, guilty or annoyed with yourself? These feeling can provide clues to understanding why and under what circumstances you spend or save.”
“One thing we really stress is the importance of having an emergency fund. That one thing makes the difference in whether an individual is actually in control of his or her finances, or just reacting to one financial crisis after the other,” said Wise. “Once you bring your finances under control, the satisfaction of that feeling can help you avoid the temptation to spend thoughtlessly.”
The University of Tennessee Extension is a participant in America Saves Week 2015, an awareness campaign from America Saves.