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Sticking to a family budget

Jan 17, 2017 01:52PM ● Published by Today's Family

Five years ago, a family of four spent an average of $185 a week on food, now it’s up to more than $206. That’s an increase of almost 11 percent according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  With income levels only rising 5 percent over the same amount of time, sticking to a budget is more important than ever.

More than 72 percent of Ohioans start the year with a household budget, according to the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2015 Consumer Survey.  But, like many other New Year's resolutions, life quickly gets in the way.  Unexpected expenses like a car breakdown, hospital stay, or job loss are the most common reasons a family detours from the budget.  Even if you’re lucky enough to dodge these culprits, fluctuating food and gas prices can also throw off the monthly budget.  “We understand that creating a family budget can be a bit intimidating,” said Christine Blake, president and CEO of Cardinal Credit Union. “Our financial counselors focus on understanding an individual’s entire financial outlook in order to recommend the best solution.  We give people the tools they need to make the right decisions, and will help to remove any elements of the unknown.”

Moreover, as a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative, Cardinal offers competitive interest rates that take advantage of current market trends.
  • So how do you stay financially fit when life deals you a bad card? Easy. Blake suggests following these three simple rules:
  • Be realistic.  It’s nearly impossible to stick to a budget 100 percent of the time and setting a budget that’s too tight only sets you up for failure.  Re-evaluate each month and move the money around as necessary.
  • Plan ahead.  It might seem like a no brainer but having a little extra money set aside in a rainy day account can be a big help.  It might not cover the total cost of the unplanned expense, but it gives you some wiggle room.
  • Look to a credit union for help.  Credit unions offer many avenues to help people afford unexpected expenses.  Most offer small-dollar personal and special purpose loans, as well as low-interest options.
Whether you are creating a budget to stay out of debt, pay off existing debt, or save for a vacation, don’t let the unexpected get in the way.  To learn more about how a credit union can help you or to find one in your area, visit www.asmarterchoice.org.

Cardinal Credit Union is a member-owned, full service financial institution open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Lake, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Ashtabula, Portage, Summit, Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties. For more information on Cardinal Credit Union products and financial counseling, stop by any one of the local branches, call 1-877-900-MYCU (6928), or visit them online at CardinalCU.com.

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