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Budgeting is the most basic and the most effective tool for managing your money. Yet, most people avoid doing it because it is additional work, much like cutting your lawn or fixing the roof. Budgeting also hints at what you have to give up and stop yourself from enjoying stuff.

What budgeting actually does is clearly show you how you allocate your money and present you the choices on what stuff to enjoy – based on your financial limitations. It will save you the grief of overspending and being too much in debt. Budgeting does not stop you from enjoying stuff, it ensures that you enjoy stuff when you want it.

Although budgeting is indeed more work, it pays off with many life-enhancing benefits:

  • Gives you control over your money – A budget is a way of being intentional about the way you spend and save your money. It is said that with budgeting, you control your money and not your money controls you. Budgeting saves you the stress of suddenly having to adjust to lack of funds because you did not initially plan how to spend them. It also helps you decide if you want to sacrifice short term spending like buying coffee everyday in exchange for a long term benefit like a cruise vacation or a new HDTV.
  • Keeps you focused on your money goals – You avoid spending unnecessarily on items and services that do not contribute to attaining your financial goals. If you are working with limited resources, budgeting makes it easier to make ends meet.
  • Makes you aware of what is going on with your money – With budgeting, you are clear on what money is coming in, how fast it goes out, and where it is going to. Budgeting saves you from wondering every end of the month where your money went. A budget enables you to know what you can afford, take advantage of buying and investing opportunities, and plan how to lower your debt. It also tells you what is important to you based on how you allocate your funds, how your money is working for you, and how far you are towards reaching your financial goals.
  • Helps you organize your spending and savings – By dividing your money into categories of expenditures and savings, a budget makes you aware which category of expenditure takes which portion of your money. That way, it is easy for you to make adjustments. A budget also serves as a reference for organizing your bills, receipts, and financial statements. When all of your financial transactions are organized for tax time or creditor questions, you save time and effort.
  • Enables you to save for expected and unexpected costs – Budgeting allows you to plan to set aside money for emergency costs.
  • Enables you to communicate with your significant others about money – If you share your money with your spouse, family, or anyone, a budget can communicate how you use money as a group. This promotes teamwork in working for common financial goals and prevents conflict on how money is used. Creating a budget in tandem with your spouse will avoid conflicts and resolve personal differences in how your money is spent. Budgeting teaches family members spending responsibility and accountability.
  • Provides you with an early warning for potential problems – When you budget and take a “big picture” view, you will see potential money problems in advance, and be able to make adjustments before the problem appears.
  • Helps you determine if you can take debt and how much – Taking debt is not necessarily a bad thing if the debt is necessary or you can afford it. Budgeting shows you how much a debt load you can realistically take without being stressed or if taking the debt load is worth it.
  • Enables you to produce extra money – In budgeting, you get to identify and eliminate unnecessary spending like late fees, penalties and interests. These seemingly small savings can add up over time.

On Monday from 9:30–10:30 a.m. at your LifeSpan Center a representative from Embarras River Basin Agency (ERBA) and Washington Savings Bank will guide you through creating your own budget. Light snacks and drinks will be provided.

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To pre-register for the budget class, please call your LifeSpan Center at 217-639-5150.

Guests who need transportation may call Dial-A-Ride at 217-639-5196 or 1-800-500-5505 at least 2 days prior to the event.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.”

Peace Meals, sponsored by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, call 217-345-1800.

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