For many of us, money is a scarce resource in our lives and so we must save, spend and shop smartly. We must put aside some money for short-term (big bills later in the year) and long-term future needs (new car). We must distinguish our needs from our wants (spending choices) then shop for the best value.
I am a smart saver, spender and shopper:
- I have the discipline to save for later needs. I “pay myself first”. I understand the power of compound interest and use it to my advantage.
- I know my family’s needs and wants. I can sacrifice short-term wants for long-term needs.
- I comparison shop. I have mental power over purchases and don’t waste money on a whim.
Key Learning Points:
- Be able to distinguish wants from needs.
- Practice “buying skills” every day.
- Give, save, spend. Savings must be a priority.
- Use on-line shopping resources to pre-plan big expenses.
- We are stewards of God’s gifts of time, talents and treasure. Read Stewards of God’s Gifts for a deeper look.
- Develop a budget. Classify each spending category as a “need or want”. If necessary, look deeper into each category, e.g. are all groceries a need?
- Pay yourself first. Write your first bill to “savings”.
- Keep track of spending for a month or more. Make sure each dollar spent fits with a budgeted category and amount.
- Find and use internet sites to do pre-buying homework. Amazon.com is a good one since it’s easy to see prices and customer reviews.
- Spending vs. Shopping vs. Saving:
o Smart Spenders spend money on the right things with an emphasis on needs, not wants. A smart spender knows they don’t need something.
o Smart Shoppers know how to buy the right things at best value.
o Smart Savers know how to limit short-term spending to save for longer-term needs. They “pay themselves first”. Pay yourself first means to put money aside for savings before the bills are paid.
- Needs vs. Wants: Needs typically include housing, food, clothing, medical and transportation but even these can be refined. One person may have a basic phone as a need to get a job yet another whose job depends on the internet may say a smartphone is a need. It’s easy to fool yourself or relent to the endless marketing.
- Things to Save For: Savings likely includes an emergency fund, periodic expenses (taxes, Christmas gifts), major purchases (furniture, car, vacation), education or retirement. Saving in advance is a requirement if you want to avoid debt.
- Savings Tips:
- Smart spending and smart shopping is the pre-requisite.
- Make good daily decisions…coffee, lunch out, cigarettes.
- Key track of your spending.
- Pay yourself first. Take your next pay increase and put it towards long-term.
- Automatic transfer to savings or 401K. This is a great way to pay yourself first.
- Spend money on people, not things.
- Sell something. But it’s better to not have bought a few things in the first place if money is tight.
- Take advantage of compound interest. Start saving early in life (but it’s never too late).
- Shopping/Buying Skills:
o Know the places (and times) where you can find great deals.
o Pre-shop….price and specs.
o Be willing to negotiate: Use the power of cash. Have patience, be able to walk away. Ask: Is that your best price?
o Do not but on impulse. Wait 24 hours before making a big purchase.
o Buy with cash (or debit), not credit.
o Do not pay extra for a “name”.
o Recognize the high price of convenience.
- The power of compound interest. Saving even just a small amount of money every week can eventually turn into a sizable pile of cash over time. See this graphic on MSNMoney.com
- Record Keeping: Have a safe place (locked file drawer, fireproof safe or bank safety deposit box) for your important papers.
o Personal records…diplomas, social security, birth certificates, marriage license, etc.
o Insurance policies.
o Tax info…receipts, tax forms, paycheck stubs, W-2, etc.
o Bank records…statements, account numbers.
o Medical and drug bills.
o Investment documents.
Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:
- Needs vs. Wants. Use the below worksheet to look at all of your spending categories. Force yourself to categorize more money into “wants” until you have 15% or more of your take home pay available for savings.
- Smart Shopper Exercise.
- List ways you can improve your short-term savings (do you have an emergency fund?).
Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):
- None at this time.
Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:
- Do you have a budget? If not, why not?
- Do you set aside 15% or more of your take home expenses for savings? If not, do a more ruthless “needs/wants” exercise.
- Where do you have some wasteful spending habits.
Tools and Templates:
- Want. Desire something: to feel a need or desire for something.
- Need. Require something or be necessary: require something in order to have success or achieve a goal.
- Compound Interest. Interest that is calculated on the combined total of the original sum borrowed principal and the interest it has already accrued.
Web Sites/Web Articles/Short Stories/Essays:
- See list of books in Money Management – Overview.
- Smart Spending Means Smart Saving by RoyalBankAmerica on YouTube
- 10 Rules for Smart Spending by KCLau Money on YouTube
- “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.” – Proverbs 3:9 (ESV)
- “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” – Luke 12:15 (KJV)
- “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers
- “Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.” – Abraham Lincoln
Summary 2-page Lesson Examples, coming soon):
- Money Management – Spending and Saving (handout).
- Money Management – Spending and Saving (with instructor notes)