Tuffy’s Basic Needs hosted a workshop on March 16, Financial Literacy: Budgeting 101, to help participants understand the importance of budgeting and achieving financial peace of mind.
Presenter Jose Gutierrez, the center’s programming graduate assistant, shared several tips on how to remain financially secure during and past their time in college.
“Budgeting allows you to take control of your finances. It gives you a better chance of reaching your financial goals and it just gives you a peace of mind by making sure that you have money for the things you need,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said that the goal of the workshop was to help participants understand the benefits and four main elements of budgeting — personal income, expenses, savings and financial goals.
For students, income may include financial aid, paychecks and family support through allowances or other help. Gutierrez said that many people don’t understand that there are two types of expenses: fixed — things that don’t tend to change, such as rent — and variable expenses, which may not be of high priority, such as clothing.
Considering 60% of US households experienced financial shock within the past year, savings are an important defense that can help mitigate financial stress, said Gutierrez. An important first step is to set a financial goal.
“The first thing you want to do is you want to set a goal. You want to create a plan on what you want to achieve. Then, you’ll calculate how long it’ll take to reach your goals and then you want to find a system of contribution that’s consistent for you,” Gutierrez said.
He also suggested monitoring your progress as a way to provide encouragement when it comes to working towards financial goals. Gutierrez suggested using the acronym SMART —specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — to work towards financial goals.
Gutierrez also emphasized flexibility and how it relates to budgeting.
“You want to be flexible. Budgets change from month to month and they will require revisions and adjustments,”Gutierrez said.
Expenses related to a return to in-person instruction, as well as heightened gas and food prices can make it harder to save, Gutierrez said. Finding a method that specifically fits you can help navigate through unexpected pressures.
Gutierrez suggested methods for saving as simple as putting aside cash in an envelope to save. He said that it was okay to mix methods as long as money is being saved. Using programs like Excel or budgeting apps that connect to your bank account like Mint, are a couple of ways to track expenses.
Financial Literacy: Budgeting 101 is one of many workshops offered by Tuffy’s Basic Needs services this spring. Other workshops include the Healthy Eating Series, which helps participants make the most of trips to the grocery store, plan healthy meals, and how to get CalFresh benefits.
Gutierrez also suggested a multi-platform budgeting platform called, You Need a Budget, but said that the free version of the software was very limited in its abilities.
The center has additional financial literacy workshops scheduled for both online and in-person. The next workshop will take place remotely on April 5.