One of the biggest struggles in marriage is money. Let’s face it not one family has not been touched by this. Not even the rich because sometimes the drive to keep making more money can split families as well. Today I’m gonna talk to you about the everyday Joe family like ours. Budgets have been tight. We have struggled. Student loans still press down on us. The best way to help balance things with your family is to sit down and plan a family budget. A budget helps you two work as a team and feel in control of your finances.
Start small and make your budget work toward your goals and priorities.
Start with your goals. What do the two of you see in your financial future? Are you struggling to beat the paycheck to paycheck cycle? Trying to build credit and pay off debt, or maybe you are after building your emergency savings up? Sit down together and talk about WHY you want to get your finances under control. It is so much easier to stay on a budget when you see a reason to do it.
Track how you are REALLY spending your money. If you use your bank card for shopping your bank may already be splitting your spending into categories for you. You can try a free site like mint.com to help do the math. If you are using cash for spending it is time to grab a notebook. Look at where your money is going so you can see where cuts can be made.
Put your bills first. As sad as it can feel when you’re forced to watch a large chunk of your budget go right away life gets easier when you don’t have to worry about the bills. Pay them first eliminating issues with trying to figure out how to make room for them. Once you have them budgeted you can look for ways to bring down your bills like going for cheaper car insurance or doing simple things to cut your electric bill.
Budget your savings. While many like to put this at the end of your budget it is really helpful to take it off towards the beginning. This way you are not tempted to put it into another category. Take a cut off the top of your pay or all of the money from extra work on the side to build your savings up.
Pay down debt. This is another great place to put the money you are earning on the side to work. By paying down debt you lower your monthly expenses and help improve your credit.
Make cuts to things like your grocery budget. Simple pantry staples can save you money. The good news is you don’t have to make a bunch of sacrifices to your diet either. You can still have meat and whole foods on a budget. Stop buying things you can make for yourself for less. At the end of the month put anything extra in your budget into one of your goals or building your stockpile.
Plan more in your budget for variables while making an effort to cut them.
When planning things that have varying costs like food, gas, and car maintenance be sure to budget on the high side. It is ok to have money left over but, never fun to not have enough to cover your needs. This will help prevent you from having to pull from saving.
Plan for a lower income. Don’t include overtime, bonuses, tax returns, and tips in your budget. While all of these are great they are not steady and are best to not be included in your regular budget. Make a hills and valleys account to put this “extra” money into to. This can be a blessing giving you a bit of wiggle room avoiding pulling from savings when life happens. By planning for less when making your family budget you can be ready for lean times.
Review and make changes to your budget often. Many costs including food, utilities, and other regular expenses change with the seasons and regular updates can help keep your families budget under control. As time goes by you will begin to earn more money over time. Instead of using that as an excuse to spend more put that money into one of your goals.
Review your budget often. As you work to spend less you will notice more money is left over. As you progress in your career you will see extra money coming in. When you notice big changes like this your budget will need to be switched up to allow you to grow towards your goals even faster.