October personal finance month at LifeSmarts.org – National Consumers League

By Jacob Markey, LifeSmarts intern

It’s October, a month where the leaves begin to change in northern climates and the weather begins to turn. Football season is also up and running. For my beloved Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers, I continue to hope for great success. And LifeSmarts competitors are already at work studying hard to qualify for their state competitions!

This month’s LifeSmarts topic area is Personal Finance. A significant part of personal finance is money management, something immensely important to everyone. The average credit card debt per US household with credit card debt is over $15,000, and even the federal government is trillions of dollars in debt. With these numbers in mind, becoming aware of how you manage your money is truly important. Here are some great tips to look at to learn how to better handle your finances:

  • Make a budget. Listing your revenue and expenses will help you determine your current financial state and allow you to better grasp any potential changes you may need to make to your lifestyle. It is a great habit to develop is useful for the rest of your life.
  • Ask questions before you buy and avoid impulse purchases. Will that new shirt or TV be less expensive somewhere else? Do I really even need it? Will I need the money for something else I want? By asking these types of questions, you can become a smarter consumer and help separate things you want from things you really need.
  • Set financial goals. Whether you really want to buy a new TV or car, or pay back a loan, by setting goals you can better understand how much you will need to save, and for what period of time, in order to accomplish your goals.
  • Teens especially should learn about the different types of credit. By knowing the difference between a credit and a debit card and the pros and cons of using plastic instead of cash, you can be aware of whether a card is right for you at this point in your life.

Some teens may think they do not need to learn about money management at their age. They are sorely mistaken. With college or full-time jobs waiting within the next few years and having to pay for tuition, rent and other expenses, the importance of keeping track of your finances will become apparent very soon. Smart money management at an early age will help throughout the rest of your life. By learning how to manage your finances, you will be in better financial shape for the future.