Posted by CDS|
by Dana McConnell, CDS Executive Director
No matter your social status, zip code, or educational level, a basic understanding of money is required for financial stability. You could earn a nice salary and still not have enough left over at the end of the month to buy basic food necessities. Or, you could be a family of four thriving on a modest salary. It all comes down to living within your means, and making the most of what you have.
Decisions: Need vs. Want. As parents, how often are we tempted to give in to our children’s pleas at the store? If we allow our children one treat during every store visit, that can add up in expenses, as well as setting an expectation for future trips. It becomes a costly habit that is difficult to break. Even when parents put a limit on the value of each “treat”, it can still add up. For example, let’s say a family has three children, takes three trips to the grocery store per week, and limits each treat to $2. That adds up to $6/visit, $18/week, or $72/month.
Consider instead allowing your child to help pick out the type of yogurt, sandwich bread, or fruit purchased so they feel involved in making decisions for the family. Ask your child to help you compare the price of a name brand product vs. a store brand product, and be willing to try the one with the better value. If your child still insists on a treat, however, many grocery stores offer children a free cookie or bag of popcorn.
Simplicity: If you haven’t used it in the past year, get rid of it. This goes for off-site storage units, cable TV, and magazine subscriptions. Basically, simplify your life and get organized. It’s so tempting to hold onto our personal keepsakes with the thought that “someday” we will need it. But if you haven’t needed them in the past twelve months, chances are you won’t ever need them. Consider selling the items in a garage sale or through on-line platforms. This will not only provide instant cash with the proceeds, but you will save the monthly cost of maintaining that storage unit.
Cable TV seems to be a priority we value as high as other utility bills, like water and electricity. But most prime networks are available free, giving a wide selection of morning talk shows, daytime dramas, and evening news. For those who can’t live without sports or movies, on-line streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix and Sling offer subscriptions for a fraction of the price of cable.
Mindset: Save, save, save. Be mindful of your grocery purchases and buy only what you feel you can eat. Food should not go to waste. If you decide to eat out, consider going only where you have a coupon or where they have in-house specials like kids-eat-free. Also, keep in mind that full-service restaurants require a tip that may negate any potential coupon savings. An economical alternative to eating out could be taking the family for shaved ice in the park one evening.
For those with significant medical bills, financial stability takes on a whole new meaning. The cost of prescriptions, operations, or lifelong conditions can strain even the most frugal family budget. Even further stretched are those who have a child with a disability. Because with a child, it’s not just their medical bills to consider, but also their educational environment, long-term residential options, and special needs trusts.
The Center for Developmental Service (CDS) will be hosting a free financial literacy program every Friday until Aug. 5th from 4-5pm at 29 N. Academy St. in Greenville. This seminar series is open to the community, but will touch on a few topics designed specifically for families who have a child with a disability. For more information, including registration, please go to www.cdservices.org/events/. Each week, a different topic will be covered by a financial specialist in the community. Childcare is provided at no cost.