Manage Money

Have you ever asked yourself, "Where did all my money go?" Do you run out of money before you run out of month? Call 517-483-4550 to make a free appointment to meet one-on-one with a professional financial counselor from the Financial Empowerment Center for help in managing your money.

Here are some ways to manage money that will help you lower your expenses and track your spending habits.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Track your spending by keeping a log for at least 30 days, keeping track of every penny you spend. You may be surprised to see what you spend on items like dining out (even fast food) or gas station sodas and snacks. Use this spending diary to create a budget you can stick to, and to see what expenses you can eliminate to free up some cash. Packing your lunch and making your own coffee add up fast!

Reduce Your Grocery Bill

You've probably heard of "Extreme Couponing," right? You do not have to go to extremes to save a lot of money on groceries. Watch this video from CEDAM's "Brightside TV" to get started!

Reduce Your Energy Expenses (Heat)

We suggest following these recommendations from Consumers Energy: Set your thermostat at 68 degrees when you're home and at 65 degrees when you're away for a short time. If you're used to higher settings, dial down 1 degree at a time until you feel comfortable. Lower your thermostat to 58 degrees if you're away from home five hours or more. You use much less energy to heat the house up when you return than to keep it heated while you're away. If there are elderly or ill persons in your home, or infants, you may want to consider higher settings.

Helpful Resources

Reduce Your Housing Costs

If you are contemplating a move, remember the 31/43 rule: Your housing costs (including insurance and taxes, if you own your home) should not be more than 31% of your gross income, and your total debt payments every month (house payment or rent, car payment, credit cards, student loans and medical debt) should be less than 43% of your gross income. If your take-home pay is $2,000 per month, you should be aiming for a total rent or house payment of $620 and payments on all of your debts including your house should be $860 or less. If you need help with figuring this out for your own financial situation, simply call 517-483-4550 and ask to make an appointment with one of the Financial Empowerment Center counselors - we're here to help!

You may be able to purchase a home from the Ingham Land Bank for as little as $45,000. Or purchase a tax-foreclosed home at auction for pennies on the dollar. Call 517-483-6503 for more information.

Want to know if you're ready to purchase a home? Attend a free Homebuyer Education class at the Center for Financial Health.

What if you're already paying more than 31% for housing? If you rent, check out Rentometer to see what comparable rents in your area are. If yours is high compared to those near you, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord.

If you own, and are having trouble keeping up with your housing costs, there are several programs in Michigan which may benefit you. Visit a certified housing counselor at the Center for Financial Health or call 517-708-2550 to discuss your options.