Saving money when you are raising children is not easy. You will need to be careful and calculated if you want to do it right. We’ve made a list of the easiest budgeting tips for families that will help you manage how much money you spend and save more money each month,
Budgeting sounds scary because most people are intimidated by anything that is money-related. The feeling is like the one we get when talking about taxes. It has a little bit of confusion, a hint of nervousness, and a lot of dread. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. Just like taxes, you see how easy budgeting is when you get down and do it.
1. Set a clear budget
The first, and the most important, thing you’ll need to do is make a budget at the beginning of each month. This budget should be set in stone and nothing short of a catastrophe should make you alter it in any way. Don’t worry, there should be parts of the budget that account for extreme scenarios, though we hope that you’ll never have to use them.
If your family has a fixed income, you’ll know what amount of money you’re working with. If your family’s income is not fixed, you should make a budget for the lowest income you’ve made this year minus 10%. This way you’ll always be prepared if you have a bad financial month. But, if you have a good one, you’ll already be used to working with less money. And everything over that can go into your savings or the children’s college fund.
Here are some other things you should consider when making a budget:
- Financial goals – your budget should reflect your long-term and short-term financial goals. You should detail and justify the amount of money you’re prepared to spend or save each month. This is the most important among the budgeting tips for families.
- Embrace the 50/30/20 rule – 50% of your income goes on your needs, 30% on your wants, and 20% goes straight into your savings. Needs are things that you can’t live without, such as food, bills, and rent. Wants are the things you’d like to have but don’t need – such as a night out with friends, or a dinner at a restaurant.
- Don’t spend money you don’t have – it’s better to budget for less money than to overestimate your income.
- Put the basics first – don’t set aside money for toys and gadgets if your food budget is slim.
- Get rid of unnecessary costs – you should look for ways to decrease your costs every time you make a budget.
2. Pay off your debt first
Before you start setting aside money for different expenses, you should cover your debt. This should be the first item on your budget. Debt can come in many forms and shapes. Sometimes, it is so small or hidden that we forget about it until it becomes a serious problem. With this in mind here are the things you should pay off first.
- Credit card payments
- Mortgage payments
Once you take care of all of these items, you can create a family budget for the rest of your needs. Keep in mind paying off your debt could take a large portion of your income. If this is the case, you should pay off your entire debt before you acquire any new debts.
3. Get rid of your credit cards
One of the most productive budgeting tips for families is to destroy credit cards.
We get it, they provide a sense of security and make you think you have more money at your disposal. In fact, this is why they are dangerous and can lead to serious budget problems. Sure, you can get a payment split up into manageable parts. This is great in unforeseen circumstances when expenses might be high. But it is also horrible for your long-term budgeting plans. This is because you’re spending money you don’t have. And while your present self is reaping the benefits of it, your future self will be suffering the consequences.
Using your credit cards will put a strain on every following month. It will decrease your next budget by a drastic amount. Not to mention that you will pay more money in the end.
Thus, you should cut up, break, or otherwise disable your credit cards. Focus on budgeting the money you actually have
4. Cash is king when it comes to saving money
Instead of credit cards, you should use debit cards or cash.
Carry enough cash to buy the things you need. It will limit the amount of money you’ll spend on things that aren’t in your budget. Like when you go to the grocery store to pick up some vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch, but your kids beg you to get them some gummy bears or chips. If you limit yourself by the amount of money you have, you will have a better chance to resist them. Well, either that, or you will sacrifice a meal to indulge them. Whichever option you decide upon, you’ll still fit within your budget.
Carrying cash as one of the budgeting tips for families is a great idea when you’re going out, as well. You will never get tipsy and spend more than you decided. It will be impossible since you won’t have any extra money on you to spend.
5. Every month brings different budgeting challenges
When creating a budget at the beginning of each month, you’ll soon notice that each period of the year brings new challenges. Your family’s expenses will be different in the winter and in the summer. Also, your kids will have different needs depending on which part of the year it is. You’ll want to set aside a “back to school” budget at least three months in advance.
The same goes for the holidays! But, you might need to prepare for those even longer than just three months in advance. Also, curb the expectations for the holidays, if you can. Remind everyone in your family that they’re more about the festive spirit than they are about expensive gifts and gadgets.
6. Cut food costs
Most families spend the largest part of their monthly budgets on food. There are ways you can save money and not reduce the quality of the food you eat.
- Stop ordering delivery or takeout
- Buy off-brand products
- Start carrying lunch from home to school and to work
- Buy meat in bulk and freeze it so you can use it later
- Chase discounts
- Reduce unhealthy snacks and sweets
- Plan meals for the whole week in advance
7. Try out secondhand clothes
A lot of families all over the world have embraced the secondhand culture. Not only families that are trying to save money and improve their monthly budget. Families in rich countries around the globe, such as Norway, Finland, and Denmark also prefer secondhand clothes for their kids.
Here’s the deal – secondhand clothes are only cheaper, but they are good for the environment. Secondhand clothes reduce pollution by reducing the need for the manufacturers to make new clothes. They will also teach your children a valuable lesson. Your children will learn how to save money and not throw away things because they’re not fashionable anymore. This helps fight the consumer mentality, which is a great thing to teach your children.
In the end, your kids are probably going to grow out of whatever you get them in a matter of months. This means a new set of clothing expenses burdening your family budget every couple of months. Secondhand clothes are much cheaper. This will allow you to save money and reinvest it in the things that actually matter, like education.
8. Vacations don’t need to be extravagant
There are many websites like Tripadvisor that will help you find cheap places to stay. You can use them to find fun activities for your family. No matter whether you’re planning a vacation in the country or outside of it.
9. Explain family budgeting to your kids
Doing a monthly budget as a family is one of the most difficult budgeting tips for families. It is so hard to get everyone together and engage them in budgeting. But you must do it if you want everyone to understand why you’re doing it. It will help clear things up. Otherwise, your kids might not understand why they can’t get the fifth ice cream or the latest smartphone.
It will be more difficult if the kids are too young. You’ll need to figure out fun ways to get them engaged in budgeting. Also, reward them when they show good money-saving habits.
If your kids are older, you can have a straight-up talk with them. They can even help the family boost its budget by getting a job or earning money online, even if they are students.
10. Make a rainy day buffer in your budget
There should always be a part of your budget that you’ll save. You should save this money in case some emergency happens. Medical expenses, a leaky bathroom pipe, and problems with your car don’t wait for you to make the money. And these are things that you’ll want to fix right away.
This part of the budget is difficult for most families to set aside. It’s money you have but mustn’t spend. This can present a problem and make it hard to decide how much money should go into this budget.
If you find it hard to separate a part of your income for these purposes, there are ways you can boost your budget by working online as a stay-at-home parent. Even if you have a full-time job, you can still find a few ways to boost your monthly income.
11. Find other ways to make disposable income
If these budgeting tips for families don’t work for you, you can try to make extra money on the side. There are many online money-making sites that will help you do this. Just make sure you are well informed about what you’re doing and how you’re getting paid. You wouldn’t want to waste precious time on a scam.