Debt of any kind can be overwhelming, particularly when you’re raising a family. As a parent, you work hard to provide for and give your children everything they need and want, as well as try to instill a responsible view on money management, but it may be hard when you’re facing a mountain of debt. Creating a budget for your family can help you put your seemingly out of control finances back in order and if you already have a budget, but are still struggling, it may be time to revisit your family budget. Here are some tips to creating a budget and building a stronger financial future without feeling like you’re sacrificing everything:
Figuring Out Your Expenses
Many heads of households put off sitting down and figuring out their expenses because it can be stressful, overwhelming, and even cause strain between a couple. Some people just assume the worst before actually sitting down and taking a look at how their money is spent. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of Americans say that the level of stress they have about money hasn’t changed or has become worse over time. The longer you wait to visit or revisit your expenses, the worse you may feel. It’s best to find a quiet time to sit down without interruptions, see where your money is being spent and figure out a suitable budget for your family (the sooner, the better). Factor in all of your expenses from monthly fees for subscription services to daily lattes to house mortgage and student loan payments.
Prioritize and Make Cuts
When it comes to your family budget, you’ll notice there will be things that are easier to cut and some “essentials” that should be given more attention, such as credit cards, student loans, and household utilities. If some of your “essentials” are piling up and putting you in greater debt, it’s time to make some budget cuts. Here are a few examples of cuts that can be made in order to focus on decreasing your debt:
- Food Bills: While food is a life essential, many families overspend when it comes to grocery shopping. If you make small changes such as coupon clipping, buying a cheaper version of your favorite items, and even do more meal planning, you can save a significant amount of money at the grocery store without leaving your family unhappy and hungry. Additionally, if you’re a busy family on the go, consider making meals to go rather than using the expensive convenience of fast food.
- Gym Memberships: Many people have gym memberships and have the best of intentions to go multiple times during the week, but in reality, many go a few times a month. Rather than spending your time running on a treadmill or stationary bike on your own, get the family involved and make exercise a family activity, especially during the warmer months.
- Daily Habits: A 20 oz latte or a buying a scratch off ticket on the way to work each morning may be your little luxuries, but over time they add up. Rather than making such unnecessary expenses a daily treat, consider treating yourself once a week and save yourself a nice chunk of change that can go towards household expenses.
- Other Expenses: Each household has different financial needs so it will be up to you and your family to make the cuts where you see fit. While some families must be a two-car household, others make carpooling work to save gas money. Other families wouldn’t give up their cable television, but others happy traded it in for a cheaper streaming service. Whatever budget cuts you decide to make, your ultimate goal is to decrease your debt and have more money to put into savings.