Your Money: Ups and Downs of our budgets

The Morning Show

Kathy Sweedler from the U of I extension office joins the Morning Show and is discussing the ups and downs of our own budgets.

Do you feel like some months your spending goes along just as planned and other months your income and spending don’t seem to match at all? This can be both challenging and frustrating!

It may be because volatility in income and expenses month-to-month is making following a traditional budget unrealistic. Recent research focused on the volatility of people’s incomes and the variability in monthly expenses. One study found that for more than five months a year, the average family’s income was 25% above or below their median income. Wow! This is a lot of change!

One of my favorite financial management strategies that I share with people is the usefulness of tracking their monthly expenses in order to see where there money is really going. Also, this strategy allows people to see if their spending aligns with what’s important to them.

Tracking expenses is still good strategy but people may also want to track their income. Do they have a lot of variability month to month? If so, this may explain why they feel like their spending and income are out of sync with each other.

University of Illinois Extension’s Money Mentor volunteers depend on research-based information like this to work with people who ask help to develop financial goals and action steps to reach their goals. Although we had 37 new mentors join the volunteer program in the last year, the demand for their services is high. We are continuously running a waiting list of people who would like to be matched with a mentor.

In May we will begin another Money Mentor training session with the financial support of United Way of Champaign County. Mentors complete 30 hours of training that includes financial education and coaching skills. To learn more about the program and to become a mentor volunteer, please visit our website at or call 217-333-7672. We are seeking mentors in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.

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