Being financially literate enables individuals to make informed decisions about their personal finances. Unfortunately, many people have not mastered financial literacy, which makes them vulnerable to serious financial challenges that can affect their quality of life and chances at economic mobility. On a larger scale, this affects a nation’s economic growth and stability. Improving national financial literacy requires innovation, especially in the way it is taught. This article focuses on the teaching techniques that can make personal finance more engaging and easier to understand.
Fun challenges that involve budgeting or investing in stocks are common examples of financial literacy games. But gamification as a teaching strategy doesn’t always mean playing games. It can be any type of activity that involves game-like elements like points, badges, challenges, or leaderboards. These game elements motivate students to learn financial concepts by making the learning process enjoyable and appealing. This not only increases motivation but also retention.
Working together in pairs or groups can help learners solve finance-related problems more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, collaborative tasks enhance the process of learning financial concepts by encouraging students to share their ideas and experiences with each other. A good collaborative learning project would be creating a household budget or developing a financial plan for a potential business. Learners who work together can develop a deeper grasp of the concepts and skills essential in real-world situations.
Though Preferable and most impactful there may be instances where teaching financial literacy as a separate subject is not possible. But with multidisciplinary learning, this won’t be a problem. Multidisciplinary learning integrates financial literacy into other subject areas such as science, math, and social studies. This integration helps learners understand that finance has connections to and applications in other areas of their lives as students and individuals. An example of this would be teaching learners about compound interest in their mathematics class and financial history in their social studies class. This approach helps learners develop a more comprehensive understanding of financial literacy.
Getting parents and families involved in the teaching of financial literacy is not unheard of. After all, the concepts of spending and earning money are first encountered at home. Broadly speaking, involving other members of the community in building a generation of financially literate learners is not only advantageous but necessary. Financial institutions, local businesses, and community organizations can play a part in helping students understand the importance of financial management. For example, a local bank or cooperative can host workshops or seminars on topics such as budgeting and credit management. In the age of social media, social PR can also be used to establish partnerships with organizations and influencers in the financial literacy space. Young learners will benefit from talks and interactions with individuals and organizations who know best about finance.
Personalized learning, as the name implies, refers to providing instruction that is suited to the unique needs, interests, and abilities of every learner. While personalizing instruction has not been easy in the past, the technology we have today makes this achievable. Adaptive learning technologies possess a range of features that allow them to meet students at their own pace and style. For instance, these technologies can provide personalized learning paths so that a student who struggles with a particular concept can receive additional resources and activities. Data collected from each student can also be used by teachers to determine areas of strength and weakness. This tells teachers which students need additional support, and what kind of support they need.
Internet and Technology
When it comes to using the internet for improving finance education, teachers should not stop at finding financial literacy lesson plans or activities. There are plenty of interactive online tools that can aid students in studying budgets and beyond. Tools like budget calculators, investment simulators, and financial planning software are invaluable. These interactive tools allow students to see the impact of their financial decisions in real time, without the potentially harmful and life-changing consequences.
While simulations and games are a good starting point for learning about finance, nothing beats the real thing. Internship and apprenticeship programs are valuable opportunities for students to learn from experienced professionals and real-life financial issues and solutions. Another excellent hands-on activity is a service learning project, which is a financial literacy initiative that serves the learners’ community. Providing financial counseling to low-income families is an example of this. Service learning projects help students develop communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills on top of learning about financial literacy.
Elevate Your Finance Teaching Program Today
Financial literacy affects the fate of the whole nation, not just one person or family. However, it is often overlooked in schools and among communities. So, make sure that your financial education curriculum is responsive to the demands of the times.
Does your personal finance curriculum meet students where they are in life and include collaboration, multidisciplinary education, technology, community involvement, and hands-on learning? If your answer is no, don’t worry DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation is here to help you improve your financial literacy program.
Thriving During a Recession
Whether you're a seasoned professional in a lucrative field or just entering the job market for the first time, news of a recession can be very worrying. In the first quarter of 2022, the U.S. economy shrank by 1.6%, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis predicts that the number could be similar in the second quarter. If true, that would mean the
country is in a recession, which can come with job losses, rising interest rates, and other difficult financial circumstances.
The good news is recessions are an opportunity for many, and you can thrive with just a few tools at your disposal. In fact, you can flourish with budgeting, protecting your home with insurance, and making well-researched purchase decisions. By knowing that you can jump over the financial hurdles that come with a general economic downturn, you may be able to reduce the anxiety and depression that comes with money problems.
Manage a Household Budget
Budgeting is common advice given to U.S. households, but many families either aren't able to follow their plan or don't create one in the first place. This isn't much of a surprise, as budgeting can feel like tedious work, but it is important to be financially savvy during a recession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends 16% of their income on housing, 14% on transportation, and 11% on utilities and household expenses. You may not have a lot of flexibility in your housing or transportation expenses, but categories such as food, entertainment, and home repairs have a lot of wiggle room.
Invest in a Home Warranty
One of the reasons it's difficult to stick to a household budget is unexpected large expenses. Homeowner's insurance often merely covers the cost of theft or damage to your house, but you can plan for major repairs that come out of the blue with a home warranty. As a type of service contract, home warranties cover repairs for some of your home's major components, such as air conditioning and heating, plumbing, refrigeration, stovetops,
dishwashers, and washers and dryers. Instead of paying for a major repair bill out of pocket when something breaks, a home warranty helps you spread the expense through your normal monthly budget, which makes planning much easier. Note that your coverage will be largely based on which company has the best warranty for you.
Another important tool during a recession is your ability to make your purchases and investments last a long time. Whether you're buying a new air conditioner or a warranty for your entire home, read product reviews and check the ratings on multiple websites to ensure quality. This goes for refinancing your home as well. More than half of online shoppers say they leave reviews for the products they buy at least once a month.
That's an enormous source of valuable information for the major purchases you need. A wise purchase can save you money in the long run and help you avoid the stress of replacing a faulty product.
Don't Just Survive, Thrive
Even if a recession lasts longer than two quarters, you can thrive by planning your finances, protecting your property with a home warranty, and doing your research before big purchasing decisions. Through DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation’s financial literacy resources, you can succeed during an economic downturn.
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As a mom-to-be, there are so many things to think about and prepare for before your little one arrives. It can be daunting, but it's also an exciting time! Below, DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation outlines nine steps you can take to get ready for parenthood. Some of the tips might seem like common sense, but it's important to remember them all as you approach your new life as a parent. Without further ado, let's dive into how you can get ready for your new adventure!
1. Start by creating a budget and sticking to it
Parenthood is expensive, and you'll want to be prepared financially. Sit down and create a budget that includes all of your necessary expenses, from diapers and formula to childcare and health insurance. Then, start setting aside money each month to ensure you're ready when the time comes.
If you're not used to living on a budget, it may take some time to adjust. But stick with it and you'll be in good shape when your little one arrives. And don't forget to factor in the cost of a baby shower and any other big expenses that might pop up along the way!
2. Make sure your current home will work
Take a moment to evaluate your current home. Does it provide the space and features necessary to keep your family comfortable and safe in the years ahead? Or is it time to find a new place?
You might be surprised by how quickly you can find a new apartment through online listing sites. These sites allow you to filter your search by price, number of bathrooms, number of bedrooms, and other features so that you only see the options that could meet your needs.
3. Baby-proof your home
If you're planning to stay in your current home, you'll need to take some steps to make it safe for your baby. This process is called "baby-proofing." Here are three essential tips:
These are just a few examples of how you can keep your child safe in the early years. Stay in tune with your baby's personality and tendencies so you can add other baby-proofing measures when needed.
4. Stock up on essentials
Once you have a safe space for your baby, it's time to start stocking up on essential supplies. This includes items like diapers, wipes, and formula. You'll also need to purchase some new furniture, such as a crib and changing table.
It’s also wise to invest in some high-quality nursing bras and other maternity clothing. Nursing requires a lot of commitment, so having quality clothing that facilitates breastfeeding makes a big difference.
If you're unsure where to start, ask your friends or family members who have babies for their recommendations. They'll be able to tell you what products they love and which ones you can live without.
And don't forget to sign up for a baby registry! This will help your friends and family know what items you still need before the big day arrives. Keep these quick tips in mind when planning your baby registry:
5. Buy or borrow a crib, stroller, and car seat
In addition to essential supplies, you'll also need to purchase or borrow some larger items, like a crib, stroller, and car seat. If you're on a tight budget, try borrowing these items from friends or family members. Otherwise, look for sales at your local baby store or online.
You might be surprised by how much you can save by shopping around. Once you have all of the essentials, you're one step closer to being ready for your new arrival!
6. Designate a nursery in your home
If you have the space, designate a nursery in your home for your baby to sleep. This can be any room that's quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If you don't have an extra room in your home, don't worry! You can create a cozy sleeping space for your baby anywhere, from a corner of your bedroom to a closet. Just make sure the space is well-ventilated and free from any potential hazards.
7. Ask family and friends for help
As you get closer to your due date, start asking family and friends for help. They'll be more than happy to lend a hand, whether it's watching your other kids or bringing over a hot meal.
And don't forget to ask for help after the baby is born! You'll need all the support you can get as you adjust to life with a new baby.
8. Make time for yourself
As a mom-to-be, it's important to make time for yourself. This can be hard to do when you're constantly running around, but it's essential for your mental and physical health.
Try to schedule some time each week to relax and rejuvenate. This might mean taking a hot bath, reading your favorite book, or going for a walk. Whatever you do, make sure it's something that makes you feel calm and relaxed.
9. Invest in good health insurance
One of the most important things you can do before becoming a parent is to buy quality health insurance. This will help ensure that your child has access to quality medical care, should they need it.
If you're not currently insured, there are a few options available to you:
No matter what option you choose, make sure you're getting the best possible coverage for you and your family.
So there you have it - nine steps to help you prepare for parenthood as a mom-to-be! Just remember to take things one step at a time, make sure your home is suitable for your new lifestyle, and ask for help when needed. With a bit of preparation, you'll be ready to welcome your new arrival into the world. And don't forget to enjoy this special time in your life -- it goes by so quickly!
To help create a better tomorrow by developing a more Financially Fit America, visit DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation today!
Financial literacy is the ability to understand how to manage your money and your personal financial matters. Having a strong understanding of your finances can allow you to set goals and make informed decisions about your money. Taking the time to learn about some best practices to improve your financial literacy is essential for creating a sound future. Continue reading to learn more about different ways to improve your financial literacy.
Invest in Learning Opportunities
Becoming financially literate takes practice. Set aside time to invest in educating yourself on your finances. It could be through hiring a financial planner, utilizing digital resources, or even enrolling in a financial program. When learning about how to manage your finances, you’ll figure out the best ways to save and how to make informed and responsible decisions.
Understanding how to manage your money can give you the tools you need to successfully build a secure
future without having to worry about when the next paycheck will come in. Many people who invest in financial learning opportunities are those who are already in a difficult situation where they need to figure out how to get out. Unfortunately, that makes the learning process more strenuous. They feel as if they’re in a time crunch to learn what they can to get out of debt, rather than learning earlier on how to form good habits to prevent challenging situations down the road. Mastering your finances can be tricky and time-consuming, but it is a valuable skill to master, as you’ll be managing money your entire life. Establishing a process for personal finance management sooner rather than later can help you avoid issues down the line and build yourself a better future.
Establish a Budget
A key part of financial wellness is understanding your current financial state. Before creating a budget, sit down and list out all of your current expenses. This could include rent, heating, electricity, car payments, credit card payments, or school loans. If you’re someone who is carrying a lot of debt, and it’s starting to become overwhelming as you’re going through the budgeting process, consider a debt consolidation loan. A debt consolidation loan allows you to pay off your existing debts and bundle them into a single monthly payment, often with a reduced interest rate. Doing this can alleviate some of the stress you feel from having to pay towards multiple different debts each month. If you decide to consolidate your debt, you’ll be able to incorporate that single bill into your monthly budget, allowing you to better manage your expenses.
Developing a budget is a great way to track your own expenses. You may also consider utilizing a financial advisor to support you in the development of your budget. Having them can hold you accountable to staying on track. Following a budget ensures you have enough money to not only pay your expenses, but also enough left over for unplanned costs. When it comes to budgeting, it’s important to ensure that you always have more money coming in than you do going out. In addition to that, a budget should be realistic and something that you can be consistent with. If you create a budget that is too strict, it may be more difficult to stick to, and you will be more susceptible to going over your set budget. Consider looking into the 50/30/20 rule for budgeting. This type of budgeting has you allocate your paycheck into different categories, such as mandatory costs, discretionary costs, and savings or debt payments, allowing you to have enough money in each category to cover your expenses.
Plan for the Future
In addition to creating a budget, take time to consider your future and any future goals that you may have. This can include saving up for larger purchases such as buying a house or a car, or even saving and investing for retirement. It’s essential that you consider any future goals that you have early on so that you can begin to take the proper steps to reach those goals. When saving for retirement, research what your options are to better understand how to set yourself up for success when you decide to leave the workforce. It’s important that you research different retirement plans, as the decisions you make early on can impact your future. If you’re currently enrolled in a retirement plan, consistently review and adjust it as you see fit throughout the years, and if you’re not enrolled in a retirement plan yet, make sure that you speak with your employer as soon as you can to get that set up.
There are many aspects that go into your finances, understanding how to manage your money as well as make informed decisions about your money as well as make informed decisions about your money can provide you with the confidence you need to set yourself up for a successful future.
Setting financial goals is essential to achieving personal economic well-being and security. Yet, keeping up and staying motivated to actually reach these objectives is no easy feat. You'll be confronted with a plethora of uphill battles—from the inevitable life hiccups and constant change in financial markets to the inner fight with procrastination and idleness. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your motivation and drive intact while working towards your financial goals. In this article, we'll go through some practical tips and tricks to help you stay motivated and on track financially.
Let's get started!
Set small, achievable milestones.Long-term financial goals can sometimes feel overwhelming and daunting since they take considerable time and effort to accomplish. As a result, you may lose motivation due to the sheer difficulty of achieving them. To counteract this, break your large, long-term goal into smaller, more manageable chunks.
For example, instead of vaguely writing a goal to buy a house in the next five years, aim for smaller milestones, such as saving $500 each month. That way, you're bringing yourself closer to your long-term goal while devising a strategy to measure and track your progress more efficiently. Plus, it allows you to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving small successes.
Visualize your progress.Another way to keep your perseverance in achieving your financial goals is to visualize your progress. Not only does this help to maintain your enthusiasm, but it also gives you a realistic perspective of how far you have come and how much more you still have to go.
Make a visual representation of your journey towards achieving your financial goals by having a graph or chart and hanging it somewhere visible. You can also keep a digital version on your phone or computer and mark it off every time you reach a milestone. These constant reminders of how much effort and hard work you have put into it will surely inspire you to keep going.
Understand your “whys.”Whenever you feel like giving up, take a step back to understand why exactly you are striving for your financial goal. Money is often just a means to an end, and you must focus your motivation on its purpose in your life.
So, if one of your goals is to save up for retirement, then you must hold on to the freedom and security it’ll give you in the future. Or, if it's to start an investment portfolio, then focus on how this will create a steady source of passive income for you. By understanding your “why,” you can develop a deeper appreciation and re-ignite your motivation to keep on the right track.
Reward yourself for wins.While the ultimate reward is reaching your financial goal, it's also imperative to recognize small victories along your journey. Each time you complete an achievable milestone, give yourself a reward to celebrate your success and acknowledge the effort that went into it.
Your rewards don’t have to be extravagant or expensive—they could be something as simple as treating yourself to a movie night or indulging in an ice cream sundae. These acts of self-care and appreciation will boost your morale and drive you to carry on with your financial goals.
Surround yourself with like-minded people. Motivation often comes from within, but there's nothing like having an encouraging and supportive network. Surround yourself with others who have similar financial goals and ambitions or have achieved success in their personal finances.
These individuals can discuss hard lessons learned through building a company so you can avoid the same mistakes. Or offer advice, resources, and emotional support to gain clarity in moments of doubt and frustration. Additionally, they can serve as your accountability partners, keeping you in check and providing an honest yet non-judgmental perspective when facing financial issues or dilemmas.
Make your financial goal part of your lifestyle.Financial goals should no longer be just a fleeting thought or an added chore to your daily life. It has to become part of your lifestyle, ingrained into your everyday habits and decisions. The key here is to make your financial goals part of how you live and not something you have to remind yourself of or fight against constantly.
Start by automating your savings, investments, or debt repayment plans to ensure timely and regular payments. Then, build healthy financial habits such as budgeting and tracking your expenses in a spreadsheet or budgeting app to give you more insight into where your money is going. Finally, live within your means to avoid debts and overspending.
Final TipIn today's social media-driven world, it's easy to get caught up in the comparison game and start feeling discouraged about your own progress. However, remember that everyone's journey is unique and different. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your path and celebrate small wins along the way.
Above all, keep in mind that reaching financial goals is not a one-time event—it's an ongoing process of gradual improvement and progress. With the right attitude, consistency, and dedication, you can make your financial objectives a reality.
By incorporating these strategies into your daily life and being mindful of not just your goals but also the process it takes to get there, you can ensure that you never lose motivation in keeping your financial goals.
Do you have more debt than you'd like? You're not alone. In fact, according to a recent report, the average American debt among consumers sits at just under $100,000.
Owing money can be overwhelming, especially if you feel like you will never be able to pay it all off. The good news is that there are plenty of avenues of support out there that can help you settle your debt once and for all. If you're looking for some extra help to pay off your debts, you've come to the right place. Read on for our top tips.
Understand your debts
Before looking for support, it’s important to fully understand exactly what you owe. Make a list of all of your debts, including the creditor, the interest rate, and the minimum monthly payment. This will help you see the full picture of your debt so that you can make a plan to pay it off.
Once you know what you're up against, it's time to make a budget. Begin by calculating your monthly income and expenses. Then, see where you can cut back on your spending so that you can put more money towards paying off your debts. Make sure to leave some wiggle room in your budget for incidentals.
After doing this, you may realize that you need some additional support. If this is the case, there are lots of different places where you can get help, and it can be reassuring to know that you have options in terms of where to go.
Debt management plans
The first option to explore is making a debt management plan, which is a financial agreement between a debtor and a creditor that the debtor will pay back the money owed over time. The plan is typically set up by a third party, such as a credit counseling agency, and is managed by the agency on behalf of the debtor. Creditors may agree to lower interest rates, waive late fees, or extend the terms of the debt in order to make the payments more affordable.
In exchange, the debtor agrees to make regular payments to the agency, which then disburses funds to creditors according to the terms of the plan. Debt management plans can help reduce monthly payments, reduce interest charges, and get creditors off your back – but they can also have a negative impact on your credit score. If you're considering a debt management plan, it's important to weigh all your options and understand the potential risks before making any decisions.
There are multiple government agencies and programs that offer assistance with debt repayment, too.
There are lots of resources available online that can provide further support and information around how to pay off debts, whether they’re your own or someone else's. Remember, if you’re concerned about your financial situation, there will always be options available to help you manage it. Whether you need help creating a budget or negotiating with creditors, there is an organization out there that can assist you.
GOAL: Provide access to high quality FitKit Personal Finance Programs at no cost for one year to 100 personal finance educators working in low-moderate income school districts.
NEEDS of Students and Educators in Low to Moderate Income Schools: Approx. 1 in 5 children live in poverty according to Communities in Schools. Students in high poverty schools have less experienced instructors, less access to high level science, math, and advanced placement courses, great challenges in meeting educational requirements, and lower levels of state and local spending on instructional materials. All of this shows that students in high poverty schools — many of whom have fewer resources and supports outside of the school building — are also getting less in the classroom- And its largely students of color that are feeling these impact. We seek to provide high quality turnkey FitKit Personal Finance high school Programs to schools that lack the resources or expertise needed to meet state Financial Literacy requirements.
IMPACT: Nationally- Low-Moderate income school. By providing 1 educator with FitKit programs DMFLF can impact as many as 250-500 students per year. 100 educators can impact 25,000 to 50,000 students annually
Your company’s website is often the first point of contact between your business and your potential customers. It can serve as your virtual storefront, letting your customers know all about your products and services. Your customers may even be purchasing products right from your website.
In other words, this is one part of your business that you can’t afford to skimp on, the one thing that has to operate at 100%. And no time is it more important than when you’re operating your business in a tough economic climate.
And no matter how great you think your website is working for you, it can always be better. Here, we present a few tips on how to maximize your website to get the most out of one of your most powerful business tools.
Keep Them Coming Back
It’s one of the first rules of increasing your website’s rankings in search engine searches, keep adding content. A blog is a great way to do that by directing readers to your site. You’ll first have to define your target audience in order to create content that will be both relevant and interesting to them. Decide on a platform for your blog, such as WordPress, Blogger, or Squarespace. They all have their own pros and cons, so do your research and see which one will work best for you. Once you’ve created your blog, then promote it on your website and all your social media sites.
Optimize for Mobile and Smartphones
Your website appears different on smartphones than it does on desktops, so make sure your site is optimized for those devices as well. Using a responsive design means your site will always adjust to the screen it’s being viewed on. Use image compression for your photos so that they’ll be loaded more quickly on mobile devices. And make sure all the navigation buttons, links, and forms can be easily tapped by the user's finger.
Add Customer Reviews
People like reading reviews before purchasing a product. You don’t need to look any further than mega-seller Amazon and see the millions of product reviews there. Show off your own positive reviews on your website, building trust and confidence with potential customers. You can ask for reviews, if you don’t already have any to share, by engaging with your current customers on your social media business pages and asking for feedback you can share.
Use White Space Effectively
White space, or negative space, is the area on your website that separates the different elements. It can help with readability and reduce eyestrain. With it, you are able to draw the viewer's eye to the most important elements by surrounding them with white space. A simple design implies elegance and a sense of professionalism. And finally, it makes navigation easier on mobile devices.
Improve Customer Service
Use a chatbot or live chat on your site. There are several different versions of chatbot software that you can choose based on your budget and requirements. You’ll have to input code into your website to make the chatbot functional, like adding a plugin or script to the header. You can customize your chatbot’s appearance to compliment the rest of your site, too.
Your customers expect to be able to pay for your product or services on your website, so make it as easy as possible for them. You’ll first need to subscribe to a payment processor like Paypal, then incorporate the processor onto your website by means of a plug-in or an extension. You’ll then want to add payment buttons that clearly direct customers to that link.
You can direct customers and clients to your site to pay online, too. For instance, if you’re in the business of installing or repairing HVAC systems, check this out. With it, you can prompt clients to pay online and let them pay how they want. It’s a simple yet effective way to get your invoices paid on time and keep your finances organized.
Finally, using your website to make it a powerful marketing tool can carry your business through the toughest of times. Understanding all the ways to optimize your website can take some time, but the benefits of updating it now will pay you far into the future.
DoughMain Financial Literacy is a nonprofit dedicated to building a better tomorrow by educating people today. Consider supporting our efforts to help build a better tomorrow by educating students today.
The Benefits of Budgeting
By DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation
Stated simply, a budget is a plan reflecting your income and expenses. Many people ask the question “Where does all the money go?” or “How am I ever going to afford….?” A budget will enable you to answer the “Where” question, and help you answer the “How”. Once you understand how your money flows, you gain an element of control over your financial life. Budgeting often points out specific areas where you have more flexibility and control over spending than you may have assumed. This understanding makes it possible to make more informed decisions regarding your saving and spending priorities. It also makes it more likely you will attain your financial goals. This article explains how to budget and reap its benefits.
Understanding Your Money
Income is money you receive. Most people receive income on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. If your income is stable - such as a regular salary or other payment - then budgeting for income is relatively easy. If it fluctuates - for example, if you receive your income in the form of commissions or periodic bonuses, then it is a little more complicated. In those cases, you need to assess how predictable your income is. Rather than guess, you can track it historically and use an average to project what you can expect in the future. Be careful, though. If you had a particularly good year, or received an unusually large bonus, then don’t assume you will do as well going forward. Similarly, if you earn a salary, it is best not to assume you will receive raises. Once you have a good idea of your income, you can track how your actual income compares going forward, and make adjustments up or down as your situation warrants.
Expenses represent money you spend. Some of your expenses will be relatively unchanged each month. These include items such as your rent, student loan or auto loan payments. Most will be variable, however. Utilities will change depending on how much electricity, heat or air conditioning you use. Others such as food, clothing, and entertainment will also change. The best way to get a handle on where your money is going is to track it by category for a number of months, and then use that information as a basis for your monthly budget. You can use the average, but pay attention to unusually high or low months.
The chart below is an example budget worksheet from FiKit, but you can and should use categories that meet your needs. Websites such as nerdwallet.com and moneyunder30.com provide additional examples, and there are several Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel templates available for free. While tracking your income and expenses may seem boring, the good news is that there are also several apps that make it easy. These apps track and categorize your income and spending for you. Your bank may already provide financial planning tools as part of their online services. Look for a tab that says “tools” or “financial planning” or “my financial picture.” Other services, such as mint.com, are also popular.
Using a Budget to Set and Attain Financial Goals
As you review your income and expenses, evaluate where your money goes. Many people are surprised at how much money is spent on small, incidental things like coffee or dinner out with friends. Others identify various “hits,” such as unanticipated auto repairs or dental or medical bills that set them back more significantly than they realized. As you go through the exercise of evaluating your expenses, you will likely find areas where you want to make changes to your spending habits. In fact, one of the great benefits of budgeting is it enables you to understand these habits. You will no longer need to “guess” how much you spend. Budgeting usually points out areas where you have more flexibility and control over your spending than you otherwise realized.
Once you have a picture of your historical income and expenses, the next step is to set financial goals. Goals can be anything, from planning for a vacation to saving for a car, house, or retirement. Your financial goals should reflect your personal values and interests. No two people will always have the same goals. You can have more than one goal. For example, establishing an “emergency fund” to cover three to six months of expenses is a good short term goal. Money for retirement is an example of a long term goal. If you are having financial difficulties, resolving them can also be a goal by exploring expense reductions to a level that can be covered by your income, or paying off credit card debt within so many months.
While your budget is a tool that will help you attain your financial goals, when setting goals you want to be sure they are SMART Goals.(1) SMART goals are always specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-dependent. Keep the following chart in mind as you think about your goals.
George T Doran, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and Objectives.” 1981
Once you understand your income and expenses, and have established goals, you can then build a budget to meet them. Remember, too, you can have more than one goal. Let’s suppose you have the goal of establishing an emergency fund of $6000 within one year. In that case, you need a budget that will enable you to save $500 per month. If your current income exceeds expenses by at least that amount each month then congratulations, you are well on your way to meeting your goal. If not, then it is time to review your expenses to see where you can economize. A good place to start is by reviewing what you spend on entertainment, clothing, and groceries. Are you buying more shoes than you need? Do you go out to lunch everyday or would it be wiser to bring your lunch to work? Do you buy a lot of “junk food” at the grocery store? You can also explore ways to earn more money, such as a second, part time job on weekends. The important point is having and tracking your budget information enables you to make informed decisions, based on the facts of your situation.
Get into the habit of comparing your actual spending to your budget each month, and adjust it as circumstances change. Your budget provides a foundation for you to understand and better manage your financial health. Tracking progress against your budget is a discipline that helps you maintain it. It makes it more likely you will reach your financial goals.
While many people view owning a business as the American dream, they often gloss over the
trials and tribulations that accompany it. In addition, it’s often even more difficult for minority-
owned businesses to expand their reach and grow. Having access to an influential network and
resources is key to creating a business that thrives. Resources for support can be an
instrumental way of helping people get their businesses off the ground and even expand them.
Here are a few ways to help create more awareness around your minority-owned businesses
and get it off the ground.
Narrow Your Focus
While this may seem like a counterintuitive place to start when growing your business, it’s
important to understand your niche or expertise. One of the most common points of failure is
trying to do too much, and instead focusing on your core strengths. Stretching yourself too thin
can lead to a lower quality product and potentially losing the core identity of your business. A
good example of this is General Electric (GE), and how according to a Yale financial expert
“they got way beyond themselves” by trying to be in too many spaces at once. GE went on to
rectify this by cutting many aspects of their business and splitting into three main parts, GE
HealthCare, GE Aerospace and GE Vernova. They trimmed some of their fat, and are now able
to develop each division with purpose.
Focus on what makes your business unique, and put it at the forefront of your development.
That doesn’t mean you have to make that your only offering for the rest of time, but it’s
important to have a solid base before branching out. In doing this, not only will you get more
comfortable with your business, but you will also take more time to focus on the specific aspect
you want to expand. Oftentimes, underrepresented owners have the most unique facets in their
businesses, and it’s important to highlight those and allow your distinctive offerings to shine.
Look Into Mentoring
Reaching out to someone who’s grown a business themselves or has firsthand experience can
greatly expedite your success. Instead of learning through trial and error, you can use the
knowledge of a seasoned veteran and have a more stable starting point. There are a lot of small
business programs available, one being Put Me On, which is a Small Business Accelerator
program from Gopuff. In addition to putting a product in their store, the program offers
networking events, monthly workshops, and 1:1 capacity-building sessions. This program is
geared specifically for underrepresented entrepreneurs and aims to give them the knowledge
and experience they need to succeed. Regardless of if you decided to use a program or an
individual, mentoring is very important even in a non-official capacity. Having someone with
knowledge and connections can help you avoid common pitfalls and open doors to opportunities
you might otherwise miss.
Consider Special Funding Options
Obtaining capital is one of the most common roadblocks that aspiring business owners face, but
luckily for minority-owned businesses, there are opportunities available. One of these options is
grants. Grants are different from loans in the sense that you don’t have to pay them back; they
are essentially gifts given to those that meet certain criteria. There are many different small
business grants for minorities and it’s crucial to the success of underrepresented entrepreneurs
that they exist and are taken advantage of. The monetary sum of these grants vary based on
program and need, and exist for all sizes of companies.
According to a study co-authored by Duke University, Black entrepreneurs are three times less
likely to apply for a line of credit due to fear of rejection. Ensuring that minority-owned
businesses have the opportunity to grow and thrive is a key element to not only our economy,
but to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to create something that they can call their
In addition to grants, there are also loans, crowdfunding, and more flexible lines of credit that
are available specifically for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Take the time to examine multiple
different types of cash flow, and determine which is the best fit for your business at its current
Network With Other Underrerprested Entrepreneurs
In a similar vein to getting advice from someone with previous experience and knowledge,
having a support network around you is also very important in the growth of your business.
There are many minority networking options; a lot of local communities have very passionate
bases, and there are also larger networks such as The Minority Business Network. Networking
opportunities like this not only help connect you with like-minded underrepresented
entrepreneurs but also give your brand a platform. Through networking, you can exchange
advice and thoughts with similar parties and help develop a more well-rounded business as well
as an understanding of the other underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Starting a business can seem at times like a leap of faith, especially as an underrepresented
entrepreneur. The latest Census data shows that only 18.7% of businesses are minority-owned.
While this number is growing, it’s important to know that you have resources that you can rely
on. Creating a company doesn’t happen overnight; use what you have, lean on mentors and
those who have experience, and use the tools that are provided. Everyone deserves to share
their vision with the world, and underrepresented entrepreneurs can showcase that through their