3 Family Budget Planning Strategies

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3 Family Budget Planning Strategies

Emily Gojko · Oct 30, 2009

Knowing how to save money and live on a budget it critical in today’s economy. Family budget planning is a step in the right direction towards more frugal living. Here are some strategies to help you plan your budget and save money.

1. Write Down Your Expenses

All to often we are unaware of what our actual expenses each month are. We just pay the bills as they come. You should be aware of all of your monthly expenses, both fixed costs and variable costs. Your fixed costs are constant payments that you make each month. Your mortgage, utilities, and child care expenses are fixed costs. Your variable costs are expenses which you pay for that are not necessarily regular. For example, your variable costs include money spent on dining out, or shopping for clothes.

Once you have written down all of your expenses, see what you can cut out. Give yourself a spending limit on as many of your variable costs as possible. For example, if you are spending $500 per month on eating out, try to limit that to $300 per month, and put the extra $200 away in savings.

2. Actually Make a Budget

Budgeting for many people just means trying to save money, but your family should actually have a budget plan. To do this, you do not need any fancy computer programs. Simply take all of the fixed expenses that you just wrote down, and add dates to them. For example, your mortgage bill is due on the first of each month, and your gas bill is due on the tenth of each month.

Put your list into an Excel spreadsheet, and enter it 3 times over so that you have projected 3 months of fixed expenses. Next, add into your income as you get paid. For example, if you get paid every Friday, enter each payment date for the coming three months. Next, add in your variable expenses. Then balance out each line. Your spreadsheet should look like a checkbook register with a date, item description, debits, credits, and balances. The only difference is that these dates are in the future.

Creating a projected budget will help to see if you are making enough to cover all of your expenses. It will also help you to see if you have any extra money that you can be putting into savings. Just make sure to enter your actual expenses as you go along, adjusting anything as necessary.

3. Put Away The Credit Cards

Credit cards can totally screw up family budget planning. We use credit cards, and then forget that we’re going to have to pay the bill later. Do not use your credit card to pay for everyday expenses, unless you are adjusting the applicable line item in your budget to accommodate the increasing bill. Credit cards should be saved for emergencies and large purchases. Otherwise, use your debit card as a credit card or pay cash.

For successful family budget planning, the key is to limit spending and stay organized.

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Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

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