Ms. Gail Lewis of 121 Financial Credit Union breaks down how to build a realistic, reasonable budget and get control of your spending. If you’re overwhelmed with overdraft fees and late payments, this is the seminar for you!

Gail Lewis: We’ll go ahead and get started. I think we have everybody joining in. Can you hear me? 

Female Voice: Yes. 

Gail Lewis: So we’re going to go ahead and get started. Thank you so much for joining us today, and for investing in yourself to get your budget in order. We want to start a new habit of having a budget, if you don’t already have one. You’re in for quite a treat. Having a budget is very empowering. And so when the session is over, you’re going to feel much better about yourself and your whole household is going to benefit from this. I will go forth to say even your entire community. 

Building a basic budget is what we’re going to be talking about today. If some would say it’s very elementary, very simple. But at the end of the day, sometimes we just need a little bit of help with it, or we need to be reminded of some things so that we can restart ourselves get on track. 

So we’re going to start with a little exercise, and you can use your chat box to answer. I’m going to hold up a money jar much like what you see on the screen. Can everybody see me? Can you see you the jar that I’m holding? 

Female Voice: Yeah, it looks good. 

Gail Lewis: So you can take a guess. In this money jar, I only used quarters and dimes. And so I want you to tell me what you think I came up with as a total amount. Take a guess in the chat box. My marketing team is on the line with me, thank you to them. And they’ll have some type of gift card or something that they’ll mail out to the winner. So take a guess at it, just putting away some quarters and some dimes in this jar. Tell me how much money you think I came up with. And let me know if you can’t see things receded. Can everybody see? So just take a guess at that. 

Again, just food for thought just thinking about putting some money away, putting some money to the side. How you can use that to maybe go to want to be or go towards something you want to do for entertainment, or go towards some designer outfit you want to buy and you just don’t have it in the budget. You just want to put the money aside in a jar like this. Sometimes it may take two or three fill-ups to get what you want. But this is just a simple concept. And that’s what we’re basically going to be talking about today. Different tools, different concepts we can use to maximize our money to get the most out of the money that’s coming through our hand. 

The benefits of managing money, that’s basically what we’re going to be going through today. At the end of the day, you’re going to have some better ideas of how you can manage your money and the benefits you’re going to see. 

Female Voice: I’m sorry, I think there’s a small glitch in the screen and just give me just a second.

Gail Lewis: And so just so you know we’re in different places operating the screen and be doing the presenting, so you may see a little bit of that. So I think we skip over some, I don’t think that’s the first one.The seminar objectives… 

Female Voice: It’s just going to go right past that one, I didn’t know. 

Gail Lewis: So the first screen basically was telling you the objectives of this seminar today, and some of the things that we’re going to be going over. So for some reason it just want to jump right over that and go to some of the benefits of managing your money. So we’ll just roll with it. 

So free up time. You can do things you enjoy when you have your money under control, when you manage your money. 

Less stress which equals better health. We all know, we hear that quite a bit. Oh, that’s just stress; oh, that’s stress-related; oh, you’re stressed, or you need to get more rest. So we know when we have money issues, when we have emergencies that come up and we don’t have the money to take care of them. That’s very stressful. That can mess with our health. 

So achieving goals, satisfaction. Again, filling your self-esteem is high and you feeling better about yourself when you’re able to achieve your goals. 

Greater control equals peace of mind. When you feel you’re in control, you got a situation you need to take care of, you have the funds to take care of it because you manage your money well. You’re going to have peace of mind. 

So we’re going to take a moment, if you don’t have a pen and paper, I’m going to give you a second to grab a pen and paper. Again, no hate, no judgment, this is all about you today. We have that four-year-old mentality, for sure. Mine, mine, mine, it’s my money. It’s all about me. So we’re going to take a moment and just take this little quiz. And just food for thought I just want to think about, I just want you to think about. Ask yourself: do you spend more than you make? Is your answer your paper? You put it down. Be honest with yourself. Because, again, when we finish, you’re going to be able to come up with some solutions. Do you live beyond your means? Do you pay yourself last? Some may say, well, what does that mean? There’s an age-old concept out there. Pay yourself first is the way it go. Make sure you put some money down for savings. As we go through these slides, you will see where they actually call. You list your savings as like an expense that you have to pay out. Meaning, I have to put some money to saving. Don’t wait and do everything you want to do and then hope you have some left. So that’s what that pay yourself last is. And if you’re doing that now you’re still okay. Because again, you’re going to learn today a better way to do that. 

Do you charge instead of saving up? Use a credit card to charge things instead of saving up and planning for it. Again, speaking of just the concept of the money jar. Do you neglect your emergency savings? Do you spend uncontrollably? So these are just some things you answer for yourself. Just give yourself a moment and think about it. Be honest. Knowing that you’re going to be better when you hang up the phone call than when we started. 

And every time I say you, you’re going to hear me refer back to we, because we’re learning with you. So that’s why I say that the onset, we’re glad you joined us because this is a learning experience for us as well. During this pandemic, we’ve had a lot of time to think about a lot of things. And that’s the part that we’re going to have to consider, the good part of it because we’re going to be able to reevaluate ourselves and do some things differently.

So SMART goals is something 121 Financial Credit Union has been talking about and teaching over this community for 30-some-odd years plus. The whole philosophy of the credit union is to promote thrift for our members and potential members keeping our community. And so when we talk about SMART goals, this is near and dear to us. Those goals need to be specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic and time-oriented.

So you need to know you can do what you’re trying to do and the way that you’re going to do that. Again, the pen to paper, marketing did an excellent job. They could have set up better examples, much like the notepad it’s on there. Get your pen, put it to paper and write down what your goals are. How you intend to reach them. Make sure they’re manageable. Make sure you can make some adjustments if you have to. Be very realistic about it. And set the time is something to look forward to. You’re going to feel good about the fact that you’re able to do this. This is something we could teach our children, this is something we can do in our youthfulness and this is something we can do even in our retirement time. 

So three types of goals we have out there. We have our short-term goals, we have our intermediate goals and then we have our long-term goals. And they’re generally based off of the timing in which we’re going to do them. Short term is usually within the six months period; anywhere from 12 months to 60 months, one to five years, it’s intermediate; and then the long term goal is normally a goal that you’re going to do five years out. So you can think about your own situation and decide which type of goal you have. 

So we have to budget for these things, that’s number one, always. You’re going to have a budget, to save and then to invest. So those are your three areas there that you’re going to have and know the difference of.

Key components when we start talking about our budget: The income versus your expenses. We’re going to see some science as we move forward and I’ll point it, talk a little bit more about it when we get there. But when we start talking about income, make sure you think of every source of income that you have. And then on your expenses, make sure that you’re thinking about everything that we’re doing for money to go out. When you hear I say budget, I’m slashing it with spending plan. Again, our style of speaking with you is just to get you engaged and have you know that you have options, even with your wording. If budget works better for you or spending planning, but you want to have a plan. Again, you’ll continue to see put the pen to paper and track some of this stuff. Live within your means. Decide where your money is going. Make informed choices. Control your financial future. 

So one of the things that I think is probably one of the best-kept secret in the financial education industry is tracking. And I’m going to just give you that assignment, even though I’m not going to be that teacher combined, check it and see how you did. You’re going to do that for yourself. But starting right now when we get off of the call, start tracking your money for about a week. Find out where your money is going. And we’ll talk more about that. But that’s probably one of the best-kept secrets out there to just find out where the money is going; how are we spending the money that we have.

So basically our five steps to successful spending and those five steps are: List your monthly sources of income. If that’s an income you earn, if that’s an inheritance or trust fund that you’re getting, if that’s money that’s been given to you, if that’s money from stocks or some type of interest that you’re receiving. Make sure you list all sources of income. Sometimes we have stuff coming in at us and we really forget about what we have coming in. So lists all sources of income. 

Determine where your money goes. Again, does that tracking, find out what are you doing with your money. 

Balance income and expenses. Create a balance there, find out. Are you overspending? What are you doing with the money you have at the end of the month?

Review and  communicate. Communicate is going to be essential here. Because, if you’re doing your budget with someone or even if you have children, it may be that the culture in your house is, the kids don’t need to know. But this is the day to just rethink that. Would it be a good idea to involve the family in a meeting where we communicate; what all we’re having to deal them; what it costs us to do it; how we can do it better. So once we review, we’re going to communicate.

And then manage your system is number five. 

And so the slides are here, we’ll go into it a little bit more in-depth on each one of those five things. 

So step one, this is sources of income. So these are just some areas that maybe you’re getting more, maybe this is not what you’re getting yours from. But this is just some example. So pensions, interests, bonuses. There’s a big other there, of course. So other always include all of those things that one individual may be getting, another one is not. Earned income credit, gifts, tax refund, rental income, paychecks, of course, Social Security income. Like one could have been added during this pandemic with the stimulus money. So any income that you’re getting you want to include in the budget, so you will know what happened to that income when it’s all gone.

So there’s basically three— make a note, are the headings coming down? So you have the fixed monthly bills, you have the flexible monthly bills, and then you have the ones that you have periodically. The fixed are generally going to be like your mortgage, and say like a car payment. Flexible things will be like your groceries, your gas may change, your clothing. Periodically, you’re going to have to pay like your taxes and insurance. So those are kind of the three categories when you’re looking at expenses going out.

The categories here we’re dealing with: what do we do? What type of expenses are we having to buy? This, you may have heard us at workshop speak on this, as two simple categories: needs versus wants. But this talk about things that are necessary, we have to have. Then we talk about discretionary things, and we talk about personal items, and then miscellaneous. Don’t just throw a whole lot of stuff over into your miscellaneous. Make sure your miscellaneous are specific. So again, so you can see where your money is going.

If you’re a person, I’m going to say it this way of age, and you’re used to using like a check register— can everybody see this? This is an excellent way. And this is one I teach. If you use your debit card, every time you swipe it, and you write down the amount, not only the amount to balance it. But if you write down what the transaction was for. It’s a good way to just take a look back like a photo of yourself of where your money is going. 

You can use online apps; you can use envelopes; take advantage of all resources. Again, 121 Financial, we have these envelopes in the branch. You can use one of those. Put your receipts, maybe in categories and keep up with your receipts if you’re not a person going to write them down, write them with that. It’s a form of tracking your money. So it’s different methods to tracking your money. They all work. 

Sometimes I just teach a simple, just get a plain sheet of paper, fold it in half, fold in half again, just basic little stuff and use it in your purse. You put it in your pocket, even in the car to just track your money. What did I do today? Everything I spent money on, keep up with it. Again, this one concept work for me, both ways, the check register because I can balance it, if I’m using my debit card. If I use my credit card on something, again, I can use this, but this will work. You can even write it in there if you use your credit card. You just don’t have to balance it out of your numbers. So these concepts really work for you to know where your money went. 

Number two: Determine where your money goes. So you’re going to hear a lot about that because there is a lot of money just leaking away. We have no idea where. You run into people have a very good salary. They have good streams of income coming in other than their income from work and they still always feel like they’re living in light. They don’t have anything. So we need to know where that money is going. Where do we spending it on? What’s happening with that money? 

However you track your money, communicate, that goes back to that family meeting. Find out who’s doing what, what’s going on, how can we do this better, get some best practices, find out from each other even. What days are you going? This day they have specials. There’s things that we can share with each other that can help us. We don’t have to drop all about habits. We can just enhance what we’re doing so that we can enhance our income.

Step three: And again, I love the scale example. We’re all about that balanced approach. You want to take your income, your expenses, you want to have an accountability model, where you make sure there’s a balance there. You don’t want to wake up that day saying: “What happened to all my money? Why am I down to zero and I still have all of these expenses to pay?” So that scale is very important. A balanced approach for yourself accountable to balancing your income up against your expenses.

So money going out: food, housing, transportation, taxes, insurance, utilities, clothing, gifts, education, recreation. We know the list goes on and on. Again, saving should be on that list. Money coming in, coming in from salaries, gifts, interest, alimony, child support, capital gains, dividends, sales of investments. And you may have your own list of where your cash is coming in from, but have some type of cashflow statement. Be your own best CFO. So you’re the chief financial officer of what’s coming through your hands. And you want to make sure you do a good job on that. 

This stands for a year time, where did your money go? Month-to-month is about all I can handle if I look at it in a big theme like this. I feel like I missed my opportunity to fix it, but I do love the example. But as long as we do something, put a pen to paper, put down what’s going out, what came in and how it went out— income versus expenses.

Does your plan fit your goals. So that’s where your SMART goals are going to come in. And you’re going to create a plan to fit your lifestyle. That’s why I started out saying about the selfish attitude of maybe that four year old saying: “Mine, mine.” Because this is all about you. No one can create a budget for you, in my opinion, and expect it to work. So you need to get in there, you need to get involved. You need to make sure you have some things that you’d like to do in there; some things you want. It’s more likely that the budget is going to work, if you have things in there that you want and that you need to do. So it’s personal, it’s all about you, custom-made for you.

Pitfalls that could destroy your spending plan. And I love that they say you could because we’re not going to allow it. We’re going to get a grip on it. But there are some pitfalls out there that we have to be mindful of. So these are examples of things that can drain your budget dry. Again, the examples of… you know that leaky faucet. You know how it can just cost us a lot of money at the end of the day. We’re not even thinking about it, just seems like a little drill. But it really can cost us a lot of money. Well, leaks in your budget are pretty much the same. Did they ever come up the different was?  Can we go back?

Female Voice: They are, they go to the next screen. 

Gail Lewis: Oh, it don’t list them out. So I’m going to talk a little bit about those things as leaks there because I want you to think about those. Impulse shopping is like number one. Each one of these little drips represented some different things. Impulse shopping was huge. They say it’s the number one thing that causes us to not be able to balance a budget because we don’t have a spending plan, or an amount set that we can spend. We go out and emotions take over. And we do a lot of shopping that perhaps we don’t need or we regret later. Maybe we wanted to get a gift, but we didn’t have to get a gift for that amount. So the impulse shopping was really big on that list. So we want to think about that. It was even things on there like maybe watch how you drive. Accelerating the car, driving so fast could be a way that you could cut back. So you think about for you and create that list for you, what those things might represent. Areas that you know that you kind of overspending in, or you could cut back in. And maybe it’s best that it didn’t show it because you can create your own. But overall, nationally, impulse shopping was the big one that we all had in common.

So practical money-saving tips: Using credit wisely, pay your debt down, refinance, bundle your insurance, shop around. And I just want to spend just a couple of minutes on this because, if you’re on the line with us today, and you’re not that person that some debt-free yet, or you’re not that person that has the budget intact. Where you can budget and pay for everything you need or would like to do, I just want this to be a reminder to you that we are still lending. We are able to work with you for a loan, if that’s what you need or desire at this time. You cannot reach us through the contact center. You can call us and schedule of an appointment with one of our associates at the branch or you can apply online. 

So using credit wisely can be a way to budget. You can budget for the payment until you’re able to budget and save to pay for something. So I do want to get that out there. We’re not all there yet, still striving to be debt-free, maybe. But if that is something you need, consider 121 Financial. That’s something we’re still doing. We’re lending. We have money to lend you. We can work with you on a loan.

Refinance: If you have, say, an auto loan, find that somewhere now and you feel like it’s not the best situation for you, and you need to talk with one of our associates at the branch about refinancing. Feel free to think that is part of doing your budget. To take a look at what you have and see if redoing that or taking that somewhere where it would be best for you or better for you, that’s part of doing a budget, that’s part of money-saving tips.

And so here we have more money-saving tips. Use your payroll direct deposit. Make savings a habit. I throw this concept out there, every time I’m talking with any group. I run these children, retirees, whoever it is. We can all do everybody in between, we can do this. Every time you get $1 put 20 cents out aside. If your way, you know above then, you got things together and you say: “Oh, I’m doing 30, fine.” But if you have no concept, nowhere to start, 20 cents out of each dollar. Make your new $1 bill, 80 cents. Put 20 cents aside. You’d be surprised how quickly money will add up. 

Use rebates and coupons. Adjust the thermostat. Drive sensibly. Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Try taking your lunch during this pandemic. A lot of us are working from home so we get that experience pretty much, you got that down pat. 

The step-down principle. It’s one that I still… time to go like that when I’m out talking to people. They’re careful to tell you what to do. My ideal style of speaking with you is conversation-style where you can talk back. I can’t wait to this pandemic is over for that. Normally, Megan and Nicole on the line with me. They would have lunch and we would have something to give you, some swag from the credit union. So that part I really missed. So I’m a little bit more comfortable with the step-down concept when I’m with you because you can see me and see that I’m not telling you what to do. But since my style is to give you options and you choose what’s best for you, the step-down principle is really one I’d be very careful. So I’m going to give you just an example of stepdown because it can be a principle that can save you money. 

So there was all kinds of examples out there for stepdown. Some people would say shop at thrift stores or something like that. Maybe go to somewhere, take your clothes somewhere and buy some clothes from there, like something used. Stepdown could be like switch where you’re having your coffee in the morning, maybe you’re going someplace that’s $5. And you could have a cup of coffee that you would enjoy just as much for $3. So the step-down concept is again, just taking a look at something you’re doing that’s on that top step and causing— and just to keep it simple, $5 which you’re going to take a step down. You still get the same thing, what you want, your choice, but you can get it for less. 

So basically, again, you just want to be aware of your spending habits. If you sit down and take a look at your situation for a minute, it doesn’t mean necessarily that I’m asking you to give up something that you really like or that you want. But maybe there’s a stepdown that will work for you and keep you in the same category that you feel good about being in. So I’m not here to say: “Don’t have your coffee, don’t have your designer outfit.” I’m simply saying, “If there’s a stepdown from the red to the gold, where you can feel good and get what you want, but less. Take a look at that.” That’s what the step-down principle is all about.

So again, the five steps we went over, we’re talking about tracking expenses regularly. Start today, when we get off the phone, whatever you’re spending, track it, write it down. Just about every type of counseling around our community, use it. If it’s weight loss, you should track what you eat. Drug rehab, they’re actually to track what you’re doing, what’s going on with you. They will track you. So tracking with financial, they’re effective. Again, I’m not sure why it’s a best-kept secret. Put a pen to paper, track what you’re doing. 

Pay your bills regularly, pay on time. The money that we’re paying out on late fees, that’s money should be in our account, not in somewhere in some fee account. We appreciate it, but we don’t want your money like that. We want you to have that money with you to pay your bills regularly. Pay as agreed, pay on time.

Balance your checkbook regularly. Like I said, use that check register, as a way to know where your money is going out and also to balance what money you have left. 

Review your goals annually, or after major life changes. The purpose of reviewing your goals is to decide if you need to adjust your goals. So review them annually. We have different seasons of life, different things that we’re going through, experiences that causes us to want to shift things and do things different. So review them regularly. And be willing, be open to be flexible to making changes.

Does spending fit your goal? You want to make sure your plan fits your goals. 

And lastly, I want you to decide that you are actually going to develop your personal action plan now! The now is very important. Don’t put it off. Get your pen and put it to paper. Come up with you an action plan for how your money is going to go out. You work hard for it. You earn it. If it’s being given to you, someone worked hard for it. If you’re retired, you’ve already worked hard for it. Put a pen to paper and decide what’s the best look for you with that money going out. Find out where the leaks are. That’s going to save you money right there. Admit it to yourself, whatever there are, we’re all okay because we all have some. And we’re going to do that in private anyway, with whoever we’re doing our budget with. 

Set SMART financial goals. Track your spending. Again, that’s the one takeaway today. That’s the homework. That’s what we know we can do right now when we hang up the phone. Start tracking the money. Create the spending plan. Audit the process and adjust your goals. Review your spending plan annually.

So remember, to have more insight or more information about things we’re doing, visit us at our website 121fcu.org. My personal information should be coming up on the screen. We have ways that we can help you with just about any area in trying to improve your finances. I am your financial education specialist. My information is there. I’m going to give out my work cellphone, that’s not there. And it’s 904.574.1416. If you want to talk about it personally when we get off the line, feel free to give me a call, just know beyond what I’m doing. We also partner with GreenPath Financial Wellness. And so they’re debt management plans they can help you with, even a budget that some may say is very simple. Others may say: “Listen, I need help with it.” You can get on the phone with someone with GreenPath Financial Wellness, up to 9 o’clock at night, from the privacy of your own home and get help with that budget. So if you get off the line, and you’re that person that say: “You know, this just didn’t work for me, I need more.” Feel free to give us a call and visit us at the 121fcu.org. And you’ll learn more about the GreenPath Financial Wellness there as well, up under our resources. 

And we do have time for some questions and answers. So if you’re out there and you have a question, our team can unmute you and you can ask your question.

Female Voice: Yes, I was just wondering, is there any particular software that your organization recommend to track finances?

Gail Lewis: Oh, thank you. Great question. The GreenPath Financial Wellness that I just spoke of, we partner with them, and we pay them each month for our members to use beyond what we’re doing. So if you visit us at our website up under financial educational resources, you will go to their page and they have all types of resources out there for you. 

Female Voice: Thank you. I’m sorry, I stepped out a couple of minutes. So I missed that. It’s GreenPath…

Gail Lewis: GreenPath Financial Wellness. 

Female Voice: All right. Thank you so much. Great job!

Gail Lewis: Thank you. We’re all doing multiple jobs. So I’m glad you step back in. Questions or comments, concerns or… We really appreciate you all joining us. We hope that you’re safe and well in this pandemic, and continue to take care of yourself. Continue to visit us at our website because we’re going to continue to do these types of educational, I call them moments. Again, much of it the stuff that you already know, it’s just a reminder. And a way that we can regroup and rethink what we’re doing and see if we can do it a bit better. We’re having our shred day. We’re going to be looking into having the holiday loan again. So we have a lot going on that we can assist you with what you’re trying to do for yourself personally. So stay in touch. Continue to visit our website. Stay with us and see what’s going on and see how we can help you. Feel free to give me a call or contact me by email or text, if you just was that shy person that didn’t ask your question on the line. 

Female Voice: Thank you very much. Everyone have a great day.

Gail Lewis: Thank you. 

Female Voice You too. Bye, everyone. 

Gail Lewis: Bye, bye. Thanks Megan and Nicole.

Female Voice: Everyone, thank you.

Gail Lewis: Thank you dear.

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