For singles, keeping tabs on budgeting is relatively easy. Most single people can control their spending, knowing exactly how much they earn and spend.
Family budgeting is a whole different ball game though. Most families have more than one income, and more than one person spending that income, which is where things can get confusing. This is one of the main reasons why families don’t usually have a formal budget.
Coming up with a family budget can be tough, but it is possible. Find out how:
Make a list of all the family’s incomes. If one of the incomes varies from month to month, take the smallest amount or work out the average.
Keep a strict and detailed record of all the family’s expenses for an entire month. Keep all your receipts, and ask all the members of your family to do the same.
Add up the monthly expenses. Make sure you include absolutely everything – bills, debt repayments and daily expenses such as lunch and transport costs.
Call a family meeting and talk about how to cut costs. Taking on board the input of each family member will help to determine what your essential costs are and which can be eliminated. Perhaps you could take lunch to work instead of eating out, or maybe one of the children’s after-school activities could be reconsidered.
You can also discuss measures to reduce the electricity bill, or other essential costs. Think about carpooling or using public transport, buying non-branded food products or reducing the central heating.
Estimate how much you could save with these simple measures, then see how things are looking.
If you end up with some money left over, set it aside for your savings account. If you still find yourself in the red, start the process again and keep going until you’ve cut enough costs to come in line with your budget.
One of the main reasons why family budgets sometimes fail is that they are often unrealistic. They are great for cutting costs, but some people tend to get a little over excited and go too far. It may seem like a nice idea on paper to reduce entertainment costs to zero, but we all need a little bit of fun from time to time.
Instead of cutting these costs entirely, think about finding ways of reducing your costs. Perhaps you go out to the cinema and for dinner twice a month. Eating in and renting a film would be a far cheaper option, and is still a great way of spending time together.
Individual expenses can also be a problem. If a member of the family passes their limit before the end of the week, they should face a spending cap.
Coming up with an effective budget will help you keep your costs under control.