Creating a Family Budget
How to Create a Family Budget
Managing money and taking care of finance related things are not everyone’s forte, I am sure. In my family, which is my husband and myself, I happen to be the one that takes care of paying the bills, checking the credit card statements, cutting coupons and other non-exiting finance related things. The good thing is, I don’t mind at all. As you know, I am an Accountant/Bookkeeper by trade and love that boring, as some think job. I am also fortunate enough, to have a Mom that passed on her impressive ways of saving money to me. I adopted most of the things she has taught me when I was young, but mostly the financial stuff stuck with me. Her top two laws were, and still, are:
You never spend more than you make
You only buy it, if you can pay for it
That seems easy enough, doesn’t it? The easiest way to get an overview of your finances is to create a budget and stick with it.
For singles, creating a budget is relatively easy. They tend to have a good handle on how much money they have coming in, and when tracking expenses, they only have their own to think about. But creating a family budget is a whole new ball game.
Most families have multiple sources of income. And when there are multiple spenders, that makes things much more confusing. This is one of the main reasons that families lack a formal budget. But having a budget and sticking to it can greatly improve a family’s financial outlook.
Making a family budget may be tricky, but it can be done. Here’s how.
- Take inventory of all income. If a certain source of income fluctuates from month to month, use the lowest amount or average it out.
- Keep track of all expenses for at least 2 -3 months. Keep all of your receipts, and ask all family members to turn theirs into you each day.
- Add up your monthly expenses. Be sure to include bills, debt payments, groceries, and everyday expenses such as lunch money and transportation costs.
- Get the family together and discuss ways you can trim the budget. Getting input from other family members will help you determine which expenses are necessary and which ones could be cut down or eliminated. Maybe you or your spouse could start taking lunch to work instead of eating out, or maybe the kids can drop an extracurricular activity.
- In addition to individual expenses, discuss how you can cut down on the electric bill, groceries and other necessary family expenses. Consider such things as carpooling or taking public transportation, buying more generic foods and adjusting the thermostat.
- Estimate how much you can save on regular expenses, and cut the completely unnecessary items out of the budget. Then refigure it and see where you stand.
- If you end up with a surplus, allocate a portion of it to savings. If you’re in the red, go back and rework the budget until you have more income than expenses.
Where and how you record your budget, is a personal preference. If you like to record your budget in Excel, go for it, it is easy and you can find certain entries with the Ctrl+Find option in a snap. You can find a free version on google (www.spreadsheet123.com for example), or create your own. If you like to record your budget in pen and ink and want to make it fun you might like this planner from Erin Condren .
If you prefer a simpler, minimalistic tracker you might enjoy the ultimate family budget planner from SDG Planner.
Photo by Pixabay
Being Realistic while Budgeting
One reason that family budgets often fail is that they’re just not realistic. It’s great to cut down on expenses, but sometimes we tend to go overboard. A good example is, cutting entertainment out of the budget completely might look good on paper, but we all need a little diversion every now and then.
Instead of cutting such things out of the budget completely, consider finding ways to lower the cost. Going back to the entertainment example, maybe you’ve been going to dinner and a movie as a family twice a month. But eating in and renting a new release would be much cheaper, and you would still get to spend quality time together.
Individual expenses can also be tricky. This can be resolved by allocating a certain amount for each family member to spend each week. If someone spends his entire amount before the week is up, reevaluate his expenses and adjust if necessary.
Creating a family budget can help keep spending under control, leaving more money to pay down debts and save for future goals. But in order to succeed, close monitoring is essential. Your efforts will be rewarded, however, with less financial stress and more money in the long run.
Let’s spend our money wisely, and start saving what we can, but keep in mind to not go overboard and still live a little.
Stay safe, be happy and be smart about your finances.
Life Coach & Mentor
Thanks for following my journey through improving life by discovering inspiring tips to de-stress, have a relaxing day, make good nutrition choices and just enjoy life! My goal is to share a little bit of what I find beneficial, interesting or just plain cute and fun!