People tell you that having a family is expensive, but until you start purchasing diapers and wipes, buying new clothes and shoes that the kids outgrow before the season ends, and taking your children to dance and karate class, you have no idea just how expensive it can be. The financial output can even weigh down a family bringing in two incomes if there is no budget in place, so sticking to a budget, for many families, is imperative.
There are many great budgeting tips, and at the end of the post I have included two links to websites that can help you prepare a family budget, but the following tips are ones that I have found to be the most useful for our family.
Allocate a set amount of money each month for grocery and miscellaneous spending and do not go over that amount. We have a set amount of money to spend on groceries, so I buy products on sale, freeze meats, and, sometimes, scrape together some very interesting meals the last week of the month. We use one credit card for groceries so that we can see how much we are spending. We have set up our credit card to be viewed online, so if I have any question about where I am that month I can see how much I have charged before the next shopping trip. While you might think that eating on a budget means gobbling up junk food, we always have fresh fruits, veggies, and, 90% of the time, very nutritious homemade meals.
Take out a set amount of cash each month for personal spending, such as new clothes, a yoga class, going out to the movies, lunch, and buying a new CD or hobby materials. Before we started our budgeting system, it was difficult for me to understand how much I was spending on personal items. Cash goes quickly when you aren´t shopping within a limit.
Don´t use the debit card. For me, this was the best way to keep track of my money. It is easy to see how much you are spending when it is cash that is leaving your hand, but when all you have to do is swipe a card you don’t realize the amount that you are spending.
Only charge what you can pay off at the end of the month. Sure, you’ll have large purchases from time to time, but for most items you should be able to pay off the balance when the bill is due. Otherwise, not only are you paying for your items but you are also spending an enormous amount of money each month on interest and related fees.
Don´t give up everything. I think this is the one thing that makes budgeting so scary for many people. For instance, I love buying coffee out. I could easily purchase a coffee every single day of the month. By taking out a certain amount of money and saying that I can spend that amount on whatever I want, I don´t feel guilty about having a coffee out here and there. I don´t do it everyday, but when I do, I enjoy it completely.
Set reasonable goals. Don´t think that you will shave two hundred dollars from your monthly grocery bill or stop clothes shopping cold turkey as soon as the budget is in place. Take a look at what you have been spending and then set reasonable goals for your budget. If you find that you can cut down in certain areas more than you first expected, adjust your budget as you go along.
For more budgeting tips visit the following sites: