Managing your family’s money takes some practice. You’ll want all the best things for your children; anniversaries and holidays are far more expensive when you’re the one buying all the gifts while unexpected bills will challenge your capacity for saving.
Today we’ll divulge five tips for a stable family budget. We will talk about managing everyday expenses, prioritizing, developing healthy financial habits, and more, so let’s start from the top:
1. Set Your Financial Priorities
Payday has arrived, and you have your full salary to spend on whatever you wish. With that mindset, you will probably end up in debt faster than you’ll realize. You need to clearly set your financial priorities.
Bills, utilities, and taxes are regular expenses you will be faced with every month. It would be smart to cross off the amount of money needed to pay for these expenses immediately; there’s no way to lower them, and until you move out or resign, there’s no way to avoid them.
There’s also the issue of paying off debts and mortgages. These expenses should be near the top, if not at the very top of your list.
Secondary expenses are typically related to food, gas, and similar necessities, so the first two numbers on your list should be obvious. Managing the rest of it is perhaps even more important.
If you’re typically driving to your workplaces, you may want to consider switching to public transportation. If your monthly subscriptions to certain programs are eating away at your wallet, you may want to let some of them loose.
Talk with your spouse about the usual expenses you go through on a monthly basis, and set up your priorities, defining essentials and optional items as clear as you can.
2. Define a Savings Plan
One of the most important things about creating the budget plan is making a bit of space for savings. Spending the entirety of your combined salaries can get you between a rock and a hard place, or more bluntly put, between discomfort and debt.
After crunching the numbers of your income, bills, and taxes, you should have a general idea of how much money you have left to spend for the rest of the month.
There are numerous ways to make certain financial compromises; you will save more money by planning ahead, so let’s see some of the most typical options:
- Prepare your own food and dine at home. Ordering food is convenient but expensive.
- Start freezing food. You’d be amazed how much money is wasted on throwaways.
- Paint your walls, wash the cars, and dust the home yourself.
- Refrain from using appliances that use a lot of electricity often.
Keep in mind that you maybe won’t be able to start saving as soon as you’ve made the decision. It could take months to implement everything you’ve set your mind on, but as long as your goals are defined, you will gradually inch towards completing them.
3. Communication is Crucial
The way you’ll plan your budget with your significant other is a matter of communication and coordination. The more you talk with your spouse about managing your budget, the more you’ll understand their perspective on spending and saving, as well as their needs outside of your planned budget.
Marriages and relationships tend to suffer from one-sided actions, especially when managing money is involved. Tell your spouse that you want to buy that third guitar or a power tool before you actually do it. Likewise, expect your spouse to tell you when they want to make a big purchase, and communicate your expectations clearly.
Talking to your significant other can sometimes be hard, especially after childbirth, so you don’t have to force long discussions if your previous attempts were not bearing any fruit. It’s important to remain clear-headed and willing to work towards making a satisfactory budget plan, no matter how long it may take.
4. Develop Healthier Spending and Saving Habits
Talk with your spouse about your spending tendencies, and work out what problems hinder your budget the most. Impulsive spending, being late with your payments, and extensive period purchases are some of the bad financial habits you may want to get rid of as soon as possible.
Paying your taxes and debts on time will keep your interest rates from rising. Shopping with pre-defined lists will keep you from over-buying. Making Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day gifts yourself will keep your period shopping expenses lower.
Developing healthier spending habits requires consistency and commitment. You don’t need to address the financial issues of everyone in your family immediately. Start with your own habits, and then talk to your spouse, then you can both talk to your children. Perceive your current spending tendencies as obstacles that can be bridged by working as a team.
5. Set Savings Goals
After creating a concrete savings plan, you can reinforce it by setting additional goals that you can implement from time to time, whenever you feel like your budgeting endeavors aren’t going as intended.
Setting time-based savings goals can keep you close to zero when unexpected bills come into the picture. For instance, if you had to replace your old microwave, you can mitigate its cost by cutting back on liquor, snacks, and movie nights for a month.
Setting specific savings goals will benefit you in the long run. Open up an Excel sheet and plan your grocery expenses for the next few months. If you’re planning to send your child to college in a few years, plan for those expenses ahead by saving enough money to pay for them when the time comes.
It’s important to keep your savings goals realistic whenever possible. It’s good to idealize about saving tens of thousands of dollars, but can you realize those goals?
Unrealistic plans can be beneficial to some people, though. With a big dream ahead, you may get motivated to work harder. Planning your future with your significant other will also help you bond more as a bonus.
We hope that this brief guide was useful to you and that you have learned something new today on how to keep your family budget stable. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.