Agents statewide hold events to encourage people to save and develop a spending plan


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s joked there are two types of people in the world – spenders and savers. They need each other, especially if they happen to be in the same household. The savers keep money for a rainy day. The spenders make sure the savers have a life.
 
Money management experts with University of Tennessee Extension say whether you tend to save or spend freely can depend both on your personality and your habits. “Some people need the security of having money stashed away, while others are relatively comfortable living on the financial edge,” says Dr. Dena Wise, a professor and consumer economics specialist with UT Extension. “But a big factor in whether you spend or save is simply habit. We fall into spending habits just as we fall into eating habits, and it can be just as difficult to change our spending habits as it can be to change our diets,” she says.
 
Wise and her colleagues with Family and Consumer Sciences at UT are encouraging families to focus on keeping more of what they earn during ‘Tennessee Saves Week,’ Feb. 25 – March 5, 2013. ‘Tennessee Saves Week’ is held as part of ‘America Saves Week’ across the nation, and includes programs that help people develop skills when it comes to handling money.
 
UT Extension educators work with more than 100,000 adults and young people each year on financial issues. Some may be facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, while others simply want to learn how to get ahead. “In today’s economy, it’s harder than ever to get ahead financially, but we’re seeing a new determination on the part of consumers to find ways to stash away a little cash,” Wise says.
 
We could use the help. Two-thirds of Tennesseans have no emergency savings, and 20 percent of our state’s population spent more than they earned last year.
 
Wise suggests you ask yourself five simple questions if you’re looking to change your bad habits with money:
 
·        Do I buy things without knowing for sure that I can afford them?
·        Do I make spending decisions without really having a plan?
·        Do I often have less than $1,000 in my checking account?
·        Do I carry a balance on my credit cards from month to month?
·        Do I sometimes not have enough money to pay bills when they are due?
 
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then perhaps you need to make changes in your financial habits.
 
Wise says there is a methodical approach to changing spending habits, and it’s similar to how you might change your diet. “The first step toward reigning in your spending is to track what you spend for a few weeks. Like keeping track of what you eat, recording expenditures in a journal or electronic device can help you understand how much you spend and what items you buy, but also why you spend,” Wise says. “It’s a good idea, especially after the first week or so, to make notes on each spending or saving decision. Before and afterwards, did you feel satisfied, anxious, guilty or bored? These feelings can provide clues to understanding why you spend or save.”
 
In addition to tracking your spending, Wise suggests it’s a good idea to assume bad things are going to happen, and they will carry a hefty price tag – like car and home repairs or other bills. “We really stress the importance of having an emergency fund,” Wise says. “That one thing makes a difference in whether someone is actually in control of their finances or just reacting to one financial crisis after another.”
 
Contact the UT Extension office in your county for more information about ‘Tennessee Saves Week,’ or to get information about saving and money management.
 
UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.
 
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Contact: Dr. Dena Wise, 865-974-8198, dkwise@utk.edu