By Sandi Scott
Checking the Boxes of Life Management
“I have two kids, one is 14 and one is 10. I am working on paying for their college right now,” said Phebe Sheffield of BancorpSouth who presented an hour-long session on how to manage a family’s budget. She made the presentation relevant to each of the attendees through personal examples of how to plan and be prepared for all contingencies, including those that are unplanned.
The hour training session on budgeting was a part of the Soft Skills learning module presented through Families First for Mississippi to community members enrolled in the life management courses at the centers across the state
Shelia Davis, M.Ed, Program Director at Families First for Mississippi, addressed the class by establishing a direct link between family budget management and stress control. Obvious benefits in stress management come first with the realization that change is attainable through budgeting, debt can be managed, and a workable plan for future opportunities can be formulated. Stress avoidance reduces overwhelming frustration and even anger that comes from lack of direction or hopelessness. “Be good stewards of what has been given to you,” she said, divulging a litany of potential health effects of successful budgeting—lowered blood pressure, lessened anxiety, and less stress.
Stress has been targeted as contributing to failure to maintain optimum management of skills in parenting, healthy relationships, conflict resolution, and other life situations. Unchecked, problems in any of these areas can quickly escalate to other life-altering issues, among which are health issues, financial catastrophes, legal problems, and divorce.
By examining spending habits, identifying areas that can be managed differently, i.e. resolving debt, planning for the future (college or career training), or retirement, residents of Mississippi can take the first step toward a life trend of change and personal advancement that will not only impact their own future, but that of their children and will serve to illustrate to all with whom they are associated that Mississippians care for each other and are standing together to improve both personal and community worlds.
Sheffield demonstrated simple methods to evaluate spending habits and means to overcome problem areas. One example stands out as a very simple way to strengthen family unity while cutting costs. Instead of dinner out and a movie for a family of four at the theater, with a cost of approximately $20 each ($10 for dinner and $10 for movie) for a minimum of $80, she suggested that the family plan a hotdog and popcorn movie night at home that would cost about $20. The $60 savings can then be reallocated to saving for Christmas presents. ($60 a month for 12 months would pad the holiday budget by $720.)
Initiating financial management begins with a first step. Taking the hand of friendship extended through Families First for Mississippi and enrolling in classes devoted to family unity and development, change can begin and grow. Classes are free to the public. For more detailed information and what Families First classes are available in your area, please check out our website www.FamiliesFirstforMS.org.