- Personal Finance
weekly family budget planner
weekly family budget planner
Budgets are basically a way of tracking your income versus your expenses. It's a basic concept that is easy to grasp, but, for most of us (including yours truly) is very difficult to master. It's easy to sit down at the beginning of the month and add up what you think your paychecks will bring in. It's also relatively simple to then subtract the items you think you spend your money on. But when the end of the month comes, it is just amazing how math has failed you. After years of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables, maybe even calculus and statistics, and all math has done is repaid you with a negative balance. How rude (say in a Michelle Tanner voice for the authors full intended effect)!!!
The trouble is that all we really did in that scenario was what I like to call "wishful listing"... We wrote down our income, which turned out to be exactly right, but our spending somehow didn't follow the plan. The truth is that we need to first track your spending before we can create a successful budgeting plan. Once we find out what we are really spending our money on, we can really begin to create an action plan.
The best action plan for getting your spending in check is a weekly budget. Why not a monthly budget? Well, the answer to that riddle is simple in it's complexity and sweet in it's tartness (sorry, i sometimes get a little carried away with silly/philosophical babbling). Anyway, the reason a weekly budget is superior to the monthly budget is because of procrastination. Shorter time-frames create results. It also gives us more achievable goals. If I told you to have $12,000 dollars saved by the end of the year and I would double it, you would certainly make it a point to save the $250 dollars a week to make sure you got the reward... and if you didn't it would be so, so much harder to come up with it at the end of the year. That is how you need to think of budgeting! The only difference is that instead of me paying you at the end of the year, you will have paid yourself (well, I guess you would not have the $12,000 that I said I would match... I only said that to be dramatic and make to motivate you to think about how you would achieve your end goal. And that is all budgeting really is... a way to achieve your end goal!
So, now you know what it takes, and you are committed to create a weekly budget. That's great! Now, how do you get your family to stick to it also? It's a great question, and to tell you the truth, there is not definitive answer. It really depends on your relationships within your family, but if it is important to you, they will be willing to try. Creating a family budget may even bring your family closer. While there is no one answer, there are several resources which can help you track your spending. Mint.com is a great example. By logging into mint you can have all of your financial information under one roof. Their budget tool allows you to see how you are earning and spending on a day to day basis.
There are also a great number of personal finance and budgeting blogs that provide additional strategies and tools to help you budget (including my brand new blog: http://smalltimebudget.blogspot.com/... sorry, had to plug it!). As you budget for the future, or for a common goal (Disneyland, braces for suzie, start a new business, early retirement), it is important to also make sure you have a back-up stash, or money reserved for emergencies, so that you will not have to break from your budget every time life gives you lemons. Some "experts" say that you say that you should keep a reserve of 6 to 12 months of living expenses in a reserve account. This is probably a good idea, but then again, it really depends on your individual and family situation (an unmarried man with a secure job won't need to have as much as a family of four with less secure income) .A family budget should include some types of reward also. This will give you incentive to keep saving and sticking to your budget planner.
Budgeting is tough work, but in the long run you will find that it was well worth it.
Live long and prosper my friends