Simple tips to improve money management

January 29, 2009 6:16:27 PM PST
Making ends meet during a recession can be particularly tough if you don't have the money management skills needed to survive.

The average American is $16,000 in debt, and that doesn't include mortgages. It's no wonder then that so many of us are drowning in red ink.

Travis Hunt of Santa Rosa does what he can to stretch his $12 an hour pay check.

The trainer at Goodwill learned a hard lesson a few years ago, when he was unemployed and accumulated $10,000 in credit card debt.

"I think we spend. We're a spending society, and we're not aware of our spending," said Hunt.

That spending buried him and it took him a couple of years to get out from under his credit card debt.

"It allows you to think this money is free and so many of us get into that trouble. Oh. This is free money," said Hunt.

Angie Grainger is a Vice President at Exchange Bank and financial literacy chairwoman of the California Society of CPAs.

"So the biggest trouble is not being able to pay off the credit card at the end of the month, and using it as just like an open check book," said Grainger.

Her group now offers free financial workshops to help people manage their money and their spending.

"It's necessary because people are really struggling with money, as you can tell, with the current economic situation," said Grainger.

Angie stresses long term goal setting in her classes. She encourages people to make sure the money going out doesn't exceed the money coming in, and when getting a loan, she says think long term.

"Look forward into the future, so it's not just about paying up for a payment for today, but its also about that long term. What are you, what's the total cost of that asset that you're purchasing," said Grainger.

Travis took the class six months ago and is slowly incorporating what he learned into his daily life.

"It's an awareness that I think this class has given me to take with me whenever I'm out there spending money. Is that something I want, is that something I need and have to have," said Hunt.

He's started a spending log, and is working hard to meet his long-term goal.

"I would like to eventually be able to afford my own home, to save enough money to put a down payment on a house," said Hunt.

We realize everyone's financial situation is different. So we want to invite you to join us for our debt management hotline next Wednesday.

The Consumer Credit Counseling of San Francisco will be staffing our phone lines to answer your questions about your money problems from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Bilingual assistance in Spanish and Chinese will also be available.