BALTIMORE — Managing your finances during this time can be a difficult task, but with tax refunds and a stimulus bill on the horizon, it's something every person can improve on.
The CASH Campaign of Maryland focuses on improving financial education through different programs and services. One of those known services if their free tax prep, but what we're focusing on today is their financial education and coaching program, the Maryland CASH Academy.
Through the CASH Academy, people can get content on a variety of different topics, whether it's credit, creating that spending plan, protecting yourself from cybersecurity scans, a variety of different financial topics are provided on that platform.
These classes are all free!
"Anybody can attend them regardless of any income or anything," Sue Rogan, Director of Strategic Partnerships, CASH Campaign of Maryland explained. "The classes are ongoing year round. We want to make sure that people have the information they need so that their money is working for them versus them working for money."
Rogan explained that now that the classes are virtual, they're open to the whole state!
In terms of managing your finances on a day to day basis, CASH developed an acronym to have a better handle on them.
The acronym, SMART stands for
S - Stop or postpone: What expenses can be eliminated during this time?
M - Monitor: Track where your money is going.
A- Allow: What expenses are you allowing to come in at this time? Housing, transportation, food, etc. What are the priorities for those expenses?
R- Reduce: Can you find a way to spend less on these expenses? For example, are there ways you can spend less on your electric bill? Or cut down in other areas?
T- Talk: Talk with people you trust! It's important to know you're not alone in this, and sometimes, seeking professional assistance can help you better grasp your finances.
"Finances are very individual, so for some streaming services can go, for some they can't. So taking a look and making sure that you've got every single thing that you've spent money on, taking a look at it and say, is this still really important that I need to do,?" Rogan said. "Other tips that people have shared is calling different subscriptions that they may have such as Sirius XM, right? If you have that in your car, that's important to you and you want it, call them up and let them know that what you're paying right now is too much in general."
Another tip Rogan explained is knowing how much your hourly pay rate is and compare it to what your purchasing.
If you're looking at an item and you see you're going to need to work eight hours to buy it, that item may not be worth it.
Rogan says that whether it comes to investing or saving during this time, the important thing is to do your research. Have a plan and know what you're getting into.
CASH itself has two coaching programs where you can work with a certified financial planner or a CFP and talk about personal financial plan. And they also have financial coaching where someone can work with a coach for a number of sessions, however long they need support in reaching their goals.
All of these services are FREE. If you want more information, click here.