TREYNOR, Iowa. (KMTV) — With the costs of utilities and food going up more Americans are struggling with credit card debt. It's increased by 13% the biggest jump in more than 20 years.
What are the best ways to manage our money?
Kyle Osborne is the Director of Financial Literacy at TS Institute. Like most Americans, he once lived paycheck to paycheck. To make ends meet, he sold his car, walked to work and refused to eat out. Now, he's sympathizing with struggling Americans by teaching financial literacy all over Iowa.
"Look at your financial situation from a standpoint of what is going on. What money is coming in? What money is going out? In what ways would you say 'these are the most important things to me,'" Osborne said.
How should we allocate our budget?
"You don't want any more than about 25% or so of going to food. You don't want any more than 25% going to housing, that's 50% of your income. The other 50% of your income goes to expenses. That's your car payment. That's your insurance payment," Osborne said.
If we don't have the money to spend on necessities, what should we do?
"There's shoe drives. There's food drives. There's a backpack program. There's school psychologists. In many ways, our schools become some of those solutions, but then there's also for-profit and nonprofit organizations," Osborne said.
How much should we be putting away?
"A lot of experts would say a good benchmark would be 10%. So if we can start there, but a lot of people say 'I'm not gonna do that because I'm nowhere near close', and it's like, is it the dollar amount we're after or the behavior?" Osborne said.
One example of healthy financial behavior is Brady Coffman, who will be studying at the University of Iowa. In middle school, he started investing money in a Roth IRA using a mental trick to watch his wallet.
"So, when I go to buy something, I think about how many hours I would have had to work to buy this certain item and if this item would be worth 10 hours of my time," Coffman said.
Osborne says if you're struggling to pay your utility bills, consider calling your energy company. They could place you on a budget-based program that could drive down the costs. When it comes to groceries, consider signing up for a rewards program.