The Family Budget and Credit Card Balances
Times are tough. Few people have not been hit in some way by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and probably none more so than the average family. Rising costs in essential living items including fuel for vehicles and utilities along with rising interest rates for mortgages, personal loans and credit cards has no doubt stretched most family budgets.
Update the Family Budget
It is important in these times to review the household income and expenses and update the family budget. While it may be advisable in normal circumstances to pay as much off the credit card balances as possible each month, if the school fees are due and the bank balance is low, it makes more sense to pay the school fees and make a lower payment on the credit card.
Review Credit Card Payments
Of course, this should not continue on a regular basis. Keeping to the minimum payment due at the end of the month can cost hundreds of extra and unnecessary dollars spent on interest alone over a 12-month period. Reviewing your credit card payments will be an instant aid in the short term. It will also help get you through any rough patches you may be experiencing.
If your income has stayed at a steady level throughout the GFC it is still advisable to check your spending. Keep receipts from the grocery store over four weeks and compare them weekly. This can give you an idea of how much more you may be spending at the checkout. Non-essential items, such as sweet treats or sodas should be the first items to go. While the staples, bread, milk and fresh produce, should always form a large part of the weekly shopping.
Family Budget Categories
When reviewing the family budget, be sure to include any additional fees or interest charges if your credit card balance has increased. This will occur at different times depending on your family needs. Holidays and beginning of year costs for school fees, books and resources need to be taken into account. By being prepared and knowing ahead of time what your expenses will cost the following month, there will be less chance of running out of cash or sending your credit card balance through the roof.
Avoid Credit Card Balance Over the Limit
Having credit cards to use in times of emergencies can be life savers but avoid letting the credit card balance go over the limit. Most credit card providers charge severely even if the amount is only for a day or a few dollars. It is better to approach them for an increased limit than pay additional fees. The limit can always be reduced when the crisis is over.
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© 2011 Karen Wilton