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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Spend less and save more

Spending less than you make sounds like a no brainer, right? It is one important financial goal families should try to achieve consistently.

“Spending less than you what you bring home helps you get out of debt as well as save for emergencies, retirement and other life events,” said Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension assistant state specialist, family resource management. “In fact, it is a habit that opens the door to financial freedom.”

Not having enough income to cover household expenses is a real issue for some families, but in most cases financial trouble comes from overspending.

The goal of budgeting is to help people control spending so they can focus applying their money on what matters most to them. While tracking income and expenses for a month or two will provide a good idea where money is going, families may not need to record every nickel and dime they spend.

“Usually overspending occurs in a few categories such as entertainment, eating out or buying clothing,” Clampet said. “Just tracking spending in three areas where overspending is suspected can make a significant effect on your family’s financial health.”

For example, if by closely tracking how much of the budget goes toward eating out reveals family members are spending more than $100 per month on coffee and pastries, perhaps they will decide that money could be better applied to a different expense such as a credit card bill or student loan.

Or, that $1,200 a year could go into emergency savings or a retirement fund.

“It might not be as trendy to brew your own coffee in the mornings and bring it to work, along with a store-bought pastry, but you’ll appreciate your efforts once you begin seeing the extra dollars accumulate,” Clampet said. “Stay disciplined with your savings and resist spending the money in other places.”

There are a couple good strategies for avoiding overspending.

Using a debit card with no or a low fee can help track small expenses. For additional support, link the card to a budgeting app on a cell phone to see immediately how much is being spent in a certain category.

Another strategy is to determine how much to spend in a certain area, purchase a pre-paid debit card and use it for all expenditures in that area. When there are no more funds on the card, stop spending. At the end of the month, reload the card and repeat the process.

After successfully avoiding overspending in one or two areas, try to work on another troublesome aspect of the budget where overspending is occurring.

“Educating yourself and becoming more aware of your habits can go a long way toward developing better habits that help you and your family become more financially stable,” Clampet said.

For more information on personal money management strategies, contact the nearest county Extension office.


Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078