Stay on track with your finances

Lorna Wounded Head is the Family Resource Management Field Specialist at SDSU.

Lorna Wounded Head is the Family Resource Management Field Specialist at SDSU.

Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head, Family Resource Management Field Specialist, SDSU Extension

Many people don’t stick to a budget because it doesn’t account for our spending habits. If a change in spending is necessary, paying attention to our behaviors can help to determine where changes need to be made. Here are a few tips to keep you on track with your spending as you start the semester.

It isn’t saving if you would not have bought the item in the first place:

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it is a good deal if the money spent is needed for another expense (books!!!). This time of year, retailers are getting rid of last year’s inventory. A shirt on sale for $10 is great, but only if you will wear it. If you wouldn’t normally buy the shirt, it doesn’t matter if it was $50 originally; what matters is that now you are out money you could have put towards something else.

Buy in bulk:

Buying toilet paper, shower soap and other non-perishable items are often less expensive per item when you buy them in bulk. It isn’t always the case; do the math to calculate the cost per item. Then determine if you have the storage space. If you don’t have storage, try going halfsies with a friend so you can still get the discount. 

Shop sales:

Buying items on sale or clearance is better than paying for the full price. If you don’t have a preference for a brand or which store it’s on sale, go for the less expensive option. However, shopping sales also means keeping an eye on the local ads and noticing how often the sale happens. At the end of the season, you can expect items to be on sale (i.e. winter coats and boots). Make sure the price is good, and the item is something you will use. If it collects dust in your closet, it wasn’t a good spending decision.

It can be very fun to spend, but saving is also important. Locking your money away in a bank account to sit there until you have enough for your bigger goals is hard, so try spreading out the spending so you don’t get an itch to get a little retail therapy in at the wrong time. 

As always if you want to learn more there are plenty of resources available to you on the SDSU Extension website (