10 Important Tips for Sticking to a Family Budget
Creating a family budget is really important. It allows your family to begin working together as a team to save money and meet the financial goals that are best for everyone. It gets you talking about money, which is good for your relationships with one another and also good for teaching children important financial skills. But creating a family budget is only half the battle. Sticking to the family budget is the hard part.
Here are ten important tips that can help you stick to a family budget:
1. Make a detailed family budget. Make sure that your family budget is as complete and accurate as possible. The more information you include in the budget, the easier it will be for everyone to stick to the budget. Include all of your expenses including daily, monthly and variable expenses. Take your time to make sure that you have a really good idea of what your income and expenses are so that the budget you create is truly reasonable.
2. Ask each family member to give up one personal thing that costs money. For example, Dad might give up his gym membership and Sally might give up her dance lessons. Alternatively, the entire family might give up their cable TV subscription together. Everyone does their part to participate in sticking to the family budget.
3. Assign everyone a finance-related chore. There are many different chores that can be done around finances and some of those can be done by kids. For example, children can be assigned to clip coupons to help keep the family’s spending down. Other chores to be assigned to various family members may include researching products before a purchase, cleaning out the basement to have a yard sale and balancing the checkbook.
4. Make short-term and long-term goals and celebrate together when you achieve those goals. It is very important that your family budget experience be something that is positive rather than something that is just difficult for the family to endure together. One way to make the experience positive is to set some short-term and long-term savings goals as a family. Brainstorm together what you would like to do to celebrate once those goals are reached. For example, after reaching a short-term goal, the family might celebrate by all taking a day off of work and school to have a mini-staycation at home!
5. Have one parent go shopping while the other stays home with the kids. If you’re a single parent, leave the kids with a babysitter when you go shopping. Most parents find it too stressful to stick to the family budget when they’ve got their children hanging on to the shopping cart, trying to add things in that aren’t in the family budget. Your kids may be all gung-ho about the budget until they get to the store. As they get older, you can take one child along to the store with you at a time to teach them how to shop on a budget.
6. Cook together as a family. Dining out is expensive. Cooking at home can be highly affordable. Make family menus to further reduce the cost of grocery shopping. Cook together as a family as often as possible. Not only are you lowering your grocery costs but you’re also using this time together as entertainment so you don’t need to spend money on other forms of entertainment.
7. Support each other in your money-saving successes instead of being mean to each other when you don’t succeed. This is especially important for the parents in the family. Far too many couples battle over money, getting angry when their spouse spends more than has been agreed upon. Instead, create a positive environment in which you support one another in your shared financial goals.
8. Find free alternatives to things that your kids want to do. Children get bored easily and will want to spend the family’s money on entertainment. Get active about helping your kids find creative, free ways to entertain themselves. This will keep the family on a budget and also inspire your kids in new ways.
9. Limit the amount of technology that is allowed to be used in your household. Laptops, cell phones, handheld video games … all of these things are common in family homes today and they all cost money. The more high-tech your family is, the more it’s going to cost you on a regular basis. It costs to buy the items, to maintain them, to upgrade them, to operate them and to replace them. Limiting the amount of technology that is allowed in your home will reduce your costs significantly. It can also increase your quality family time and teach your kids important ways of entertaining themselves without a screen in front of them. Think that your kids would never go for this? Read this inspiring article about a woman with three teens who happily gave up their tech toys for six months.
10. Hold weekly family money meetings. Get together with everyone in the family once a week to talk about money. Discuss the successes that you’re having with the family budget. Discuss any problems that have come up and how you can work together to resolve them. Allow anyone with grievances to air those grievances and work towards a solution together. Make plans to celebrate when you achieve certain financial goals. These conversations don’t have to be lengthy. Just having them regularly will really help your family stay on track with the family budget.