Your Family Budget

If you’ve tried to create a budget for yourself and stick with it, you know how challenging it can be.  Trying to expand that budget to include a family of four or more, only compounds this challenge.  We have several tips to help get you started with the task, and hopefully follow through!

Experts recommend starting any budget plan with a goal in mind.  There are a multitude of possible goals depending on your family’s current situation.  For some, that goal might be to pay off debt.  Others may be saving for a dream vacation.  A college education.  Retirement.  Whatever your goal might be, do the research ahead of time to determine how much money you will need to save and a timeline for when they money is needed.

Next you will want to decide whether to do an online budgeting worksheet or go with paper, pencil, and a calculator.  With this decision, it is best to keep it simple!  Choosing a budgeting tool that is too cumbersome means you will be more likely to abandon the budget long term.  There are several very simple online budgeting programs available.  You can select from a variety of excel type spreadsheet that can be set up as you like it.  If you want to go with a budgeting tool that has already been set-up for you, Kiplinger’s has a very easy to navigate sheet on their website. This budgeting program lets you delete or add your own expenditure categories as needed.

It’s time to start tracking your money, both in and out. With money out, list bills or expenses in their order of importance, greatest need first down to least.  For most people this begins with either your mortgage or monthly rental cost.  When planning for regular monthly expenses, budget high based on the most you’ve ever paid for that particular bill.  After you’ve calculated the total amount of money you spend on needs each month, compare that to the amount of income earned each month.  

The hard part is then figuring out which of the wants to cut out when necessary.  It is also important to budget money towards credit card debt every month.  Make sure you pay at least a little more than the minimum amount due each month so that you are putting a little towards the actual debt and not just paying off the interest.  Finally, be sure to budget in a certain amount each month towards the goal you set at the beginning of your budget planning.  This amount will be based on how much money you need to reach your goal and when it is needed.  However, in months where other needs take precedent or money is tight, it might not be possible to allocate funds towards this goal, depending on how crucial it is to your situation.

Creating and sticking with a budget can be a challenge, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.  Beginning to follow a plan is a great step towards reaching your financial dreams!