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Keeping the Family Budget on Track

Updated on May 10, 2011
Impulse buys blow the family budget
Impulse buys blow the family budget | Source

The whole family sat down before the end of the year and agreed on a budget that made everyone happy. They all agreed that the odd sacrifice was worth it if it meant a holiday to outdo all other holidays. But then the start of the school year happened and somehow no one had thought about the extra stuff that comes with having children at school. There was that office party when Dad was asked to chip in for a farewell present and the magazine subscription you’d forgotten about.

As none of these extra items had been included in the original plan, all of a sudden the budget was out of control. Keeping the family budget on track is no easy task but a little tweaking can get your spending back in line with your initial ideas.

Impulse Buys Add up Fast

Look at the impulse buys for him, for her, for the kids, for everyone. These are some of those instant grabs we think aren’t going to make any difference. But an extra couple of dollars here and there, especially when there are four or more of you can soon add up to $100.

  • coffee with a friend
  • grab a magazine
  • can't resist the nail polish
  • extras at lunch
  • drinks after work
  • earrings
  • cool tshirt

Credit Card Debt

One of the biggest blow outs for the family budget is the interest paid on credit cards. Using a credit card to pay for a $50 pair of shoes is a wise purchase if: the shoes are a real bargain; you broke the heel on your last black pair and you know you will be able to pay the credit card off before any interest is added.

Shoes are a bargain 
Replace the black ones with the broken heel 
Pay off credit card by end of month 

Spending on credit is easy and convenient but if the credit card balance isn't being paid off regularly the interest can soon skyrocket. Over the course of the year $800 worth of purchases can suddenly cost $944 as seen in the table below. This is $144 that was never in the original budget. Use credit cards wisely and not as a way of shopping today and worrying about how the debt will be paid next year.

Interest on Credit Card Purchase Over Time

Original Cost
Total Cost with Interest  
4 Pairs of Shoes
Power tools 
Kitchen appliances
Totals after 1 year
Interest based on 18% over one year
Sticking to your Budget on HubPages
Sticking to your Budget on HubPages

Time to Regroup

Don't underestimate the value of the round table conference. Get the family together and look back over the previous months of spending. Talk about the original reason for preparing a budget. If it was for a holiday find out if everyone is still motivated by this reward. Sometimes the dream is too far in the future so maybe you need to look at some short term goals instead. Once the family starts to reap the benefits of their own planning they will be more likely to care about the money that is being saved.

A Note on Budgets

The main aim in any budget, whether it be your own personal finance budget, for the family or a corporation is to project what you plan on spending in any given time. If you find your current budget is consistently being over spent then there are only two ways to correct this. Increase your income or decrease your spending.

Keeping the family budget on track takes a bit of thought and effort but looking back over those impulse buys, credit card purchases and looking forward to some great rewards for every family member can help.


Happy budgeting!

Copyright © 2011 Karen Wilton


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