How to create your household budget
Stretching every dollar is a reality for many families. A higher cost-of-living coupled with financial uncertainty has inspired many families to scale back their spending, a process that’s much easier when families create a household budget.
Creating a household budget is often more complicated for families than it is for individuals. That’s because families not only tend to have more monthly expenses, but also because families tend to pay more mind to their financial futures than men and women living on their own. The following are a few tips for men and women hoping to create a household budget for their families.
* Get a grip on your finances. Before setting a family budget, heads of the household should first get a firm grasp of their finances. Determine household income, fixed monthly expenses (i.e., mortgage, car payments, etc.), luxury expenses (i.e., cable television service, dining out, etc. ), and outstanding consumer debt. Once you get a clear picture of what’s coming in and what’s going out, you can determine where you’re making sound decisions and where you’re not.
* Set a goal. Once finances have been examined, you can then set a goal. Goals will change as your financial situation changes, but let your existing financial situation influence the goal you initially set. For example, if an examination of your financial situation revealed a considerable amount of consumer debt, then a goal of eradicating that debt is a great place to start, and part of setting the goal is developing a course of action to make it a reality. When trying to free up money to pay down consumer debt, examine the expenses you listed as luxuries and determine which ones you can cut so you can pay down your family’s debts. Dining out less and cutting back on entertainment expenses are great ways to free up money to pay down debt. If an examination of your finances indicates little or no consumer debt but lots of money being spent frivolously, allocate funds for daily expenditures like a morning cup of coffee or lunch into your budget and do your best to avoid exceeding that amount.
* Establish a weekly budget. Many families find it easier to manage their money and stay within their budgets if they live on weekly, as opposed to monthly, budgets. This can be tricky, as many of your more significant expenses, including mortgage and car payments, are likely collected on a monthly basis. But establishing a weekly budget for your family allows you to monitor your monthly expenses more closely, reducing the likelihood that you’ll get to the end of the month and realize you exceeded your budget. Budget for those weekly expenses that are not fixed, like grocery bills and gas. Staying within budget for such expenses every week can lead to substantial savings by the end of each month, and it’s far easier to save that money when you’re monitoring those expenses every seven days instead of every 30 days.
* Consider long-term goals. Long-term goals should be considered when establishing a family budget. Even if money is tight, you likely can still find room in your budget to save for your future. The goal of establishing a family budget is to ensure money is being well spent, and contributing to your family’s financial future is money well spent. Allocate funds for retirement account contributions and future educational expenses as well. Even small contributions can add up to a significant amount of money over time.