How to save money and create a spending plan, no matter your budget

CHARLOTTE — In the midst of a relentless pandemic and rising inflation, it may seem impossible to save money, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.

But one woman said not only is it possible, but it’s how she was able to live out her dream.

Kenyetta Thompson-Powell has the career she’s always wanted. She has launched her own business with money she saved.

“I was able to purchase my MacBook Pro,” she said. “I was able to purchase an iPad, a screen projector, everything I would need to successfully run my business.”

She started saving two years ago, which wasn’t easy because at that time, she was living paycheck-to-paycheck.

“I just needed to find something to help me establish a savings and establish a goal,” she said.

So many others are in that same situation. According to the U.S. Census, more than 12.8% of Charlotte’s population lives in poverty. That number is higher than the national average of 12.3%.

A survey by the Federal Reserve found that 35% of Americans would have trouble covering a $400 emergency.

Shelia Terrell teaches financial literacy. She said most of the people she sees did not learn to manage their finances from their parents. While it may sound simple, she said becoming financially literate starts with knowing exactly how much you have to work with each month.

“The first thing you have to do is to develop a budget -- we call it a spending plan,” she said.

If you’ve never developed a budget for yourself or your family, Consumer.gov lays out a step-by-step guide. It includes tracking your income and your monthly expenses.

Terrell said that budget should also include saving, even if it’s just a little each month. She called it “paying yourself” and said it should be the first thing you calculate.

“For me, it was $50. $50 per month. Something small,” Thompson-Powell said.

That’s how she saved up for her business. The small amount, over time, really added up.

Another suggestion -- find something you can cut out each month. For Kenyatta, it was buying a daily Frappuccino. She put the money she would have spent into savings and, just like that, was able to save $50 each month.

(WATCH BELOW: Local organization hosts financial literacy program through March)

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