Marion High School family and consumer sciences teacher Myrta Billings teaches students to practice saving money the minute they get a job, so that when they want to purchase an expensive item they will already have developed healthy financial habits.
“When we talk about money, we think about values and needs from a consumers point of view,” Billings said Tuesday. “First students have to figure out what their finical goal is and then they can aim for it.”
Billings helps students develop personalized spending plans by having them track spending.
“Students track their spending for a month and that goes for any purchase, no matter what it is,” she said. “At the end of that month we put every purchase into a purchase category.”
Categories include basic expenditures on food, housing, and utilities students might have to pay for when they move out of their parents’ homes, as well as entertainment items, insurance, gasoline, and any other purchases.
“When you track your spending, you can see where the gaps are,” she said. “Then you can cut back in the areas you need to and find ways to put money away for the future.”
Students use budgeting applications on their smart phones to help track spending in addition to tracking them on pen and paper.
“Apps are more convenient for us to use,” junior Miran Stephenson said. “We usually have our phones with us.”
Billings said that regardless of the way students tally their spending, they tend to find that they have food and beverage expenditures they could save money on by preparing at home.
“In saving, we have to pay ourselves first,” Billings said. “It helps to start saving early in life.”
Senior Lauren McLinden said she has learned that knowing how money works, developing smart ways to handle it, and designing a spending plan that works for her is vital to successful personal finance.
One of her goals is to understand how insurance and credit cards work.
“To accomplish their goals, students have to learn self discipline in their spending habits,” Billings said. “Sometimes we have to give up something we want or we might end up in debt.”
Stephenson said curbing impulsive buying habits is crucial to staying out of debt. One of her goals is self-reliance, once she moves out and gets her own place to live.
“No flat-screen TVs,” Stephenson said, “Not overspending and living within your means are very important.”