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Some advice on how to save money

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By Chris Sardelli

 

Sam Mullis always had an interest in his finances.

Mullis, 43, a teacher at Lancaster High School, used to be diligent about saving his money and investing in his 401(k). 

But once his baby was born, he and his wife, Joy, weren’t saving as much anymore. Suddenly, he was only putting “a trickle” in his 401(k), and he admits they didn’t budget their money as well as they could have.

“I have some pretty tight finances,” Mullis said. “I’m in a bad financial pinch. After getting paid and paying bills, there’s nothing left over. I need to find a way to let my money work for me.”

Mullis was one of more than 20 residents who attended a Founders Federal Credit Union financial seminar Nov. 13 hoping to learn how to budget finances, save money and pay bills. 

The seminar, which was also sponsored by HOPE of Lancaster, was offered free of charge to Founders members. 

Elaine Adkins of HOPE has been working with her clients to help develop ways they can effectively pay their bills and save some money.  

“We see so much need in Lancaster and so many with major financial problems,” Adkins said. “They need suggestions and guidance to make their situations better.” 

Presenting the seminar for the 18th consecutive year was Wendy Culler, financial counselor at Founders. 

She has never seen the economy so bad and knew it was a good time to educate the public on how to manage their debt problems.

“We’ve had a lot of response lately because of the credit crunch,” Culler said. “The need for financial education is immediate and strong.”

Culler walked attendees through many different subjects, including why people have financial problems and how to budget their finances more accurately. 

She passed out financial counseling applications, which contained charts for listing a household’s monthly living expenses. Using this chart, she said, could help people prioritize their expenses if they are low on money. 

Culler said top priorities should be rent or mortgage expenses, followed by food and car costs. She said priorities do not include excessive cell phone plans or cable television.

Culler also recommends people set up three separate savings accounts – a taxes and insurance account for car and home insurance costs, a Christmas club account and an emergency savings account. 

People should budget a specific amount to be placed in each account and then have those amounts automatically deposited each month, she said.       

One of the most important things to watch for, she said, is the annual percentage rate on credit cards and loans. 

The highest a bank or credit union can charge right now is 18 percent, and she warns against auto title or payday loans that could have significantly higher APRs.

 

u Contact reporter                          Chris Sardelli  at 416-8416