Budgeting isn’t how most people want to spend a Saturday night. We would rather be entertaining friends and family or heading out to a good movie with the family. Good news! You never have to spend your Saturday night budgeting, but you should devote time every month to do this important task.
If you want to create a family budget that works, you should get the whole family involved. When we get the kids involved, it helps teach them life lessons and become more realistic with their financial requests. If you’re ready to get started on your family budget, read on!
Choose a System and Stick with What Works
There are so many different ways you can approach budgeting. Some prefer apps that do most of the work – all you have to do is input the numbers and it takes care of the rest. Others like creating a spreadsheet in Excel and some even prefer the good old pencil and paper method.
It doesn’t matter which solution you choose as long as you are consistent in your method and as long as you do it every month. No system will work unless you are truly committed to it. Choose the budgeting tools you are comfortable with and stick with them every month.
The next step is to get organized. Gather all of bills, invoices and receipts from the previous two or three months, so you can get a good handle on what you’re paying every month. If you do not have all your paperwork, a great place to start is with all your bank statements. We recommend more than one month when you start so you can see the patterns.
Agreement between Adults
When you have everything organized and you have a good grasp of your monthly earnings and expenses, it’s time to sit down with your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page. Budgeting can seem awkward at first, but to be successful at it you must be honest with each other and honest about what you are spending on and what is coming into your home. Only then can you start to make progress and make your money work for you.
Once you’ve agreed on a budget, it’s time to make it a habit. Set aside a time each month to sit down and go over the budget. What worked and what didn’t? You will likely have to make adjustments as you go, but that’s normal. Try to make the monthly budget meeting approximately the same time each month.
Involve the Kids
Parents do not usually want to involve the kids in money discussions, but they should. Explaining how money works and allowing them to see the limitations of a household budget is an important life lesson. It will help them understand the difference between “wants” and “needs”. If they realize that needs must be taken care of first, they will be more understanding when sacrifices are made.
Be Willing to Make Hard Choices
No matter how well you budget, there will always be things that come up unexpectedly. That’s just life. Having a strong family budget plan that allows you to build a “rainy day” fund makes those little hiccups easier to manage. Today’s a good day to get started on your family budget!