Good Sunday morning, everyone! Our goal at United Way is to help everyone in our community be healthier, better educated and more financially stable. So, my topics are usually relating to those three subjects.

Continuing on the subjects most people think about at the beginning of the year, I want to look at managing our finances better this month. The thought of budgeting often makes us cringe, but a budget is simply planned spending. It’s telling your money where you want it to go instead of wondering where it went.

The only way to meet your financial goals is to determine how you want to use your money and then making a plan for it to happen. Financial freedom does not come from making more. It comes from spending less. Financial freedom is not based on how much you make. It’s based on how you spend what you make. You can be financially free at any level of income.

If you don’t know how to manage money at your current level, you aren’t going to know how to manage more. You have to learn how to plan your spending.

Here are a couple of ideas that might help you get started and free up some money to ease your budget.

• Cook at home rather than eat out. This can actually be fun, and you can learn a new skill along with some new recipes. It will not only help you cut cost, but it will be healthier for you too.

• Check your service with your television, internet and phone companies to see if you are really using all that you’re paying for. Maybe it’s time to cut out the landline in your home.

How about your cable service? Do you watch all of those channels you are paying for?

Our cellphones and internet services are vital to us these days, but you can still shop around to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

• Watch your weekend spending. It might seem difficult to believe but most of us drain a large sum on our weekend expenses.

If the winter blahs have you down, don’t go to the mall to cheer yourself up. Eating out or binge drinking every weekend isn’t helping either. If you limit the weekend indulgence to once a month you will find that it’s not just eating out, it will be more like a treat, which will make the whole event much more special.

In today’s world, it is more important than ever to prepare for your financial future. And one of the easiest ways is to simply cut expenses and save more of your hard-earned money.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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