Megan Parr, Hutchinson County Extension AgentA new year typically brings a fresh start. Many people set resolutions, or goals, to reach for the year. Typically, these goals consist of weight loss, exercise, quit smoking, or just being healthy. How many people think of their finances when they think about being healthy? Not many! Your finances are a part of your overall health. Think about it. When your finances are in a good place, you tend to be generally happier and less stressed. When they are not in a good place and you are struggling, you tend to be more depressed and much more stressed. We know that eating better, healthier, foods, and exercising can help with weight loss and general healthiness. How do you whip your finances into shape, without discovering a money tree in your backyard (wouldn’t that be nice!)? Set your monthly budget. No matter if you are operating on an endless supply of money, or next to nothing, you need to set a budget. This will help you see where you spend your money, and how much you actually have. When you set this budget, be real. Know exactly how much money you receive each month and exactly how much your bills and expenses are, then set your budget accordingly. Plan ahead. This particular point refers more to grocery shopping and meal planning. A lot of money is wasted by making several trips to the grocery store throughout the week. Plan your meals for the week, or month, and make a grocery list. Include everything you will need to for each meal, household items, etc. Also, check for coupons and sale items. This will help great reduce your grocery bill. Prioritize your expenses. Before you spend, ask yourself if you really need that item. Do you really need those cigarettes? That coke? That fast food meal? Or could your money be better spent somewhere else, like paying off a credit card? Know where you spend your money and where that money could be better spent. Eating out, playing gold, and buying things you don’t really need can probably be avoided when times are tough. These are just a few recommendations that I make to you. I challenge you to take a good long look at your finances and see where you could make cutbacks or changes to help increase your financial healthiness. For more information on this topic and many others, please contact the extension office at (806) 878-4026, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office is located on the bottom floor of the courthouse. Please feel free to drop by!