Moms, are you in charge of your family budget, but you’re just not into it? Truth is, budgeting is hard for all us, regardless if you are a stay-home-mom, or have a full-time job. Dealing with money can be stressful when you always feel like there’s never enough money to go around. It can also come across as a daunting task, especially since you have a million other responsibilities on your plate.
When it comes to the word “budget”, a lot of people would immediately start thinking about how to penny-pinch or cringe at the idea of living a life with lots of restrictions. However, budgeting doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make life less fun. If you learn how to come up with a simple spending plan for your family, and learn how to manage it, budgeting can actually be empowering. You will know exactly where your money is going and can reach your goals at a much faster rate.
So, how can you manage your family finances even if you absolutely hate budgeting? Here are some simple tips and steps that you can follow.
1. Keep it simple
There are so many tools out there that allows you to track every single transaction that you make and analyzes your spending pattern. This can sometimes overcomplicate things. Instead of tracking every single individual transaction, keep it simple.
For example, use pen and paper to create your budget. You don’t need fancy apps and spreadsheets to do it. Think about your monthly income, and then list out your regular monthly expenses which usually include mortgage, utility bills, childcare, food and transportation. Then allocate some money towards other discretionary things like haircuts, coffee, entertainment etc. If you have $300 left after paying your regular monthly expenses, then that’s the amount that you have for your discretionary spending.
2. Automate fixed expenses
For the fixed expenses, you can probably set up automatic payments. By doing so, the chances of you making a mess on these payments are low. It’s also one less thing to worry about. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay attention to these charges. You need to review them occasionally to make sure that you have enough in your bank account to cover the automatic withdrawals.
3. Start with small goals
Many people find that it’s helpful to have goals that you can pinpoint and work towards to.
For example, if you would like to build your family emergency funds, instead of aiming for 3-6 months’ worth of expenses to set aside, start small by building one month’s worth of expenses first. With more attainable goals, you’ll feel more motivated to work towards it.
Or if you would like to pay off your debts, start small by knocking out the smallest debt that you have.
4. Review your spending and identify opportunities to cut cost
Print our your bank and credit card statements and look at your recurring expenses.
Do you have that gym membership that you’re paying for but you hardly have time to hit the gym? Cancel that.
Have a Netflix and Disney subscription? Pick one and drop the other subscription.
Review bills for any subscriptions that you’re currently paying for but are not aware of. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save.
5. Negotiate your bills
More often than not, companies would raise rates after a year that you’ve been with them. For example, my auto and home insurance bill keeps going up after each year of renewal. Instead of accepting it, shop around for the best rates. Don’t assume that because you have everything bundled under the same company, you’re getting the best rates.
So, pick up the phone and get new quotes for that insurance bill or internet service provider. You’ll find that many companies are willing to give new customers discounts to earn their business. It only takes a few minutes, but it’ll save you a few hundred dollars a year. This would be the best return that you’ve made in your life.
6. Plan a budget and stick with it
In other words, don’t wing it.
Sticking to a plan can be hard sometimes. However, when you have a concrete plan in place and stick with it, chances of you spending on unnecessary expenses reduce dramatically.
When you have a budget, you’ll know where your money is going. This process of mapping out your expenses will help you learn about your own spending habits.
At the end of month, reconcile where you actually spent your money to see where the pitfalls are, and hopefully you will learn to improve your spending habits each month.
7. Use cash for everyday expenses
Debit cards and credit cards make it so easy to spend nowadays. However, it is also dangerous to overspend because most of us swipe the card without thinking too much about it.
For this reason, it would be good to switch to the cash system when dealing with everyday expenses like groceries and gas.
When you are dealing with money, you can actually see the cash running out if you spend too much, and nip it in the bud before it’s too late!
8. Be realistic and allow yourself to have some fun occasionally
Always remember that you’re human. You can’t survive on a small amount of budget. For example, $50 a week of grocery budget for a family of 4 is not realistic. While it’s probably doable if you’re only eating rice and potatoes for the whole week, it is not healthy.
Instead of starving yourself, set realistic goals so you can feed your family comfortably with healthy food options. You can make your goal ambitious, but be realistic. For example, with some tweaks to the weekly food shopping list, you can probably feed your family with $100 a week.
Occasionally, allow yourself a little leeway to splurge on a treat. For example, your daughter’s birthday is coming up? Buy a birthday cake so that everyone can enjoy together.
By doing so, you won’t feel restricted or even depressed at the idea of having a small budget.
9. Celebrate easy wins
It’s important to celebrate small wins whenever they happen so you don’t lose sight of your longer term goals. For example, if you just paid off your student loans, set a reward. It will make it easier to motivate yourself to stick to your budget in the long-term.
10. Share your commitment with family and close friends
By talking openly about your goals to better budget, or save more money for rainy days, you solidify your commitment and will become more committed to doing it.
Since you have shared your goals with people around you, you are more accountable for your actions. They would be more likely to check-in on your progress. While you don’t need to provide every single detail about your family finances, there is benefit to sharing your commitment with others.
What are some ways that you have adopted to manage and maintain a balanced household budget? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Related post: Parenting On A Budget
Disclaimer: I am not a certified financial adviser. Please do not take anything on here as financial advice. Do your own research before making any investment decision. The contents on this post are for your information only. I will not and cannot be held liable for any actions you take as a result of anything you read here.