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How to Set A Budget (And Stick to It)

July 9th, 2020

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Setting a budget and sticking with it is hard, especially when money is tight. With bills coming in and only so much income to pay for them, it can be a challenge to set long-term financial goals that are actually attainable.

Fortunately, there are several tried-and-true strategies that can help you create a budget, and more importantly— stick to it. Here are a few ways to get started coming up with a budget plan that works for you and your family.

Keep track of your money

It’s impossible to know what you can afford without keeping track of your money. This means tracking what’s coming in and what’s going out. If you have one job, the first part is easier— just note your monthly income. If you have multiple jobs and side gigs, this is where having some sort of spreadsheet or tracking system can help. At the end of every week, take a minute to note what you earned.

You’ll also want to note down all your essential bills. This includes things like rent, groceries, health insurance, anything you can’t live without. Seeing these numbers on paper (or on a screen) will help you determine what’s left, and what can be put towards your savings goals or used as extra spending money. By prioritizing your must-haves first, you’ll also guarantee that you never come up short for those important items.

Set goals

Now that you know a bit more about your monthly earnings and spendings, it’s time to set some long-term financial goals. Although it’s a great aspiration, not all of us can afford the recommended annual retirement savings. But the most important thing when it comes to retirement, is to start saving. Pick a goal that makes sense for you financially, and get in the habit of putting that money aside every month. Organize your savings into emergency and long-term savings accounts, and pick an amount to save every month that you can actually afford. Maybe your goals are lower than you’d like them to be at first. But the point isn’t so much about the money, as it is about getting into good financial habits. Once savings becomes a normal part of your financial routine, it will feel easier— and become a lifelong practice.

Trim your expenses

Nobody likes to go without their favorite things, but sometimes trimming your expenses is an important part of coming up with that extra income needed to pay bills or contribute to savings. Take an honest look at your budget and decide how much you can afford in monthly spending money. This will be the money you can use for extras like eating out, shopping, or even just grabbing your favorite iced coffee. Knowing in advance what you can afford will help you stick to an amount, and prioritize what you truly want to buy that month. It also guarantees that your money goes towards all the important things (like bills and savings) before splurging on the other stuff— and you’ll enjoy that extra spending more knowing you can actually afford it.

Remove temptation

One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to remove temptations. Maybe that means unsubscribing from your favorite store’s emails or catalogs, or taking a different road home that doesn’t take you past your go-to takeout spot. It might also mean skipping trips to the mall and avoiding the places you know you’ll want to spend money. Whatever you can do to remove temptation from going over budget, do it. By stepping back from these tempting environments for a while, you’ll be able to hold onto more of your money— which will help you solidify your budget and stick to it in the long term.

Keep your eye on the prize

In all of your budgeting practice, be sure to set some long term goals for yourself. Maybe your goal is to become a homeowner, or to pay off your credit card debts. Whatever it is, having this goal will help you keep your eye on the prize— especially when the temptation to go over-budget arises. By having a long-term financial goal, it becomes easier to say no to other types of spending and stick to your budget. After all, owning a home or becoming debt free will bring a lot more happiness than some overpriced coffee.

Psst…

Are you interested in completing your college degree? We’re now accepting applications for the Fall 2020 semester from single parents living in Metro Atlanta (especially those in Gwinnet)!

Take a look at our eligibility requirements to start your application today. 

Questions? Get in touch with us here.

 

We’re hoping it does!

June 3rd, 2020

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but does it? Is there really hope on the other side of this pandemic? We certainly believe there is hope. We see it every week through the actions of our donors. Here’s a video telling you just how much they’ve supported single-parent families that need them right now! We also slid in a little update about how we’re doing as an organization overall. I hope you enjoy it!

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. Don’t forget about our Redirect HOPE giving campaign! The only way to keep helping the single-parent families in our program is through the donations you give. The SBA loans and other COVID19 relief efforts can’t be used to provide direct program services. We need you to keep HOPE going another ten years. Click here to donate the gas, restaurant, hair cut, coffee, or nail money you saved and make a difference. 

Had you found the same?

May 7th, 2020

 

I received a call from a monthly donor a few weeks ago stating that she was doing her monthly budget when she realized she had more income than in previous months due to a decrease in expenses from being quarantined. She immediately called to see if she could increase her monthly donation.

Since her call, we have had several monthly donors do the same without having to ask them, and even other supporters were looking for more ways to help.

I’ve noticed myself that my household has saved hundreds in gas,   and hundreds more in cosmetics such as hair, nails, pedicures,   massages, entertainment, and even auto insurance.

 What about you? 

Are you noticing that you have more money available these   months and are you looking for ways to help people during   COVID19?

 If your answer is yes, we have a great opportunity for you! Why   not give the $35 you would have spent on nails this month, or the   $200 you saved on gas, to single-parent families that need your       help?

We’ve had 50% of our active participants affected by this disease with either the virus itself, job loss, or reduced hours. Like other nonprofits, we are fundraising vigorously to support our single-parent families. That’s why we have started a COVID Relief fund to meet their needs.

If you would like to give to that fund between now and June 30th, please click here and impact lives when they need you most!

Sincerely,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. Want to help people impacted by COVID19? Donate to our COVID Relief Fund and give hope to single parents in need. 

The Fight is Not Over!

May 4th, 2020

Hey HOPE Family, 

We will not allow the coronavirus to stop our commitment to single parents.

Why? Because despite the challenges this virus has created, we still have single-parent

families who depend on us. They cannot wait until “normalcy” returns. Therefore, we will not rest while they wait for government stimulus checks and unemployment, and we hope you will not wait, either.

That’s why on May 5th, we are participating in #GivingTuesdayNow. This global day of giving and unity was created as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

On this special day, please consider making a gift to help our community when it’s needed most. Your donation is tax-deductible, and your gift will be used to serve our single-parent families when they need our support the most.

Our work does not stop because of a crisis. That is why your support is appreciated now more than ever. Thank you in advance for joining us on this remarkable day of giving and unity, and for continuing to be a partner we can count on.

With gratitude,

Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.

P.S. On May 5th continue to make a difference in the lives of those that need you! The fight isn’t over for our single parents, but you’re keeping their HOPE alive. 

I didn’t give up!

March 16th, 2020

My name is Vlairis, I am a single mother of a three-year-old, and I was a full-time dental hygiene student. My dream had always been to work in healthcare since I was a little girl and that dream continued as I went through high school.

I found out about the dental hygiene career, and I fell in love with it. Since 2009, when I graduated from high school, I had been working towards that dream. Because my parents did not have the financial resources to enroll me in college, I was not able to enroll in post-secondary school right away and had to get a job instead. Yet, my desire to accomplish my dream never wavered.

Years later, with great excitement, I was able to finally enroll in college! However, before I could accomplish my goal of becoming a dental hygienist, I became a mother to my now three-year-old little boy. Some women may have given up due to the known hardships of being a single parent, but I didn’t give up! I knew that I had an even bigger reason to accomplish my goals.

As a single mom full-time college student, it was impossible to make daycare and rent payments. Thankfully, that’s when you came in! You were right on time to help me achieve a better future for my son and I. You gave me help with daycare, rent, and even paid for three months of swimming classes for my son during the summer. In addition to financial assistance, you provided training and seminars to help me make better financial decisions in the future. I will forever be thankful for the assistance and help you gave me throughout my journey.

Now you have the opportunity to help more single parents like me make a difference. There are seven more single mothers waiting to graduate from college behind me, and they need you to do it. H.O.P.E, Inc. is trying to make their dreams come true with it’s Global Giving: Empower & Equip Single Parents Enrolled in College Project. Won’t you click here and give today to affect change in seven more people’s lives?

Thank you for all you did for me and will continue to do for others!

Proud Graduate,

Vlairis E.
Dental Hygienist

P.S. Make sure your donation counts by going to our Global Giving Project page to give your gift! Help more single moms like Vlairis beat poverty.