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Get Control of Spending to Ensure Financial Stability

BMO Harris Bank is using Financial Literacy Month to provide consumers a fiscal education lesson each week. This week's tip is how you can take control of your spending.

CHICAGO, April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Everyone has had a similar experience, where what should be a short, inexpensive shopping trip somehow balloons and leaves the shopper wondering what they bought and why. Shopping trips like these can be the downfall of a financial plan, and illustrate how easily those plans can be derailed.

"BMO Harris is here to help Illinoisans be financially fit and educated," said Julie Curran, Regional President, BMO Harris Bank. "We know that reining in spending can be the trickiest part of a financial plan, which is why we've developed a variety of educational resources."

Taking control of spending is an essential ingredient to any financial plan, but it's easier said than done. M&I offers a few tips on how consumers can get control of their spending.

  • Start by developing a budget based on your income. To create financial stability, it's crucial that your spending not outpace earnings. To do this, track your spending for a few months and write down where your money is going. From there, you can make any necessary adjustments to spending in order to bring spending in line with income. Once your budget is written, don't forget to check back periodically and ensure plans are still on track.
  • Learn to distinguish between wants and needs. While it's nice to treat yourself, it's most important to live within your means. Wants are things that are nice to have, while needs are things that are really necessary to survive. Nearly half of Americans consider a cell phone a necessity and about a quarter say the same about cable, but whether those are really necessities is debatable.
  • Control seasonal spending. Holidays, birthdays, and back-to-school spending can all put a dent in a savings account. To keep spending at a reasonable level, set budgets and priorities before the holidays hit. To gauge how much you'll spend in the coming year – and how much you'll need to save for it – review your previous year's expenses for holidays, wedding gifts, etc., and be sure that spending is accounted for in your budget.
  • Don't give in to social spending. The scenarios are familiar, where a friend encourages spending on an expensive non-necessity, or friends regularly wanting to meet for dinner and drinks. While it can be fun to occasionally splurge, these social spending habits can really break the bank. To avoid overspending, create a fixed budget to cover discretionary spending on things like clothes and unexpected social outings.
  • Raise your kids to be responsible spenders. Talk to them about your family budget and give them opportunities for real-life learning. Explain where the money comes from when you visit the ATM or write a check, along with the importance of paying bills on time.

BMO Financial Group has created informational websites for financial education. Helpful Steps®, www.bmoharris.com/helpfulsteps, helps consumers better manage their money and learn ways to improve their financial well-being. There's also a version for parents, http://community.bmoharris.com/helpful-steps-for-parents, with great ideas on raising financially smart kids.

Financial Literacy Month Weekly Tip:

Week #1 – Don't put all your financial eggs in one basket
Week #2 – Help your kids learn while they earn

About BMO Harris Bank

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida.  BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S.  Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

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