4 Tips for Building Your Family's Budget
Creating a budget can be hard, especially when you're taking care of a family. Not only is it a challenge to keep up with your own expenses, but planning a budget for children can make things a little more complicated. From grocery runs to college funds, tracking your family's spending and savings may seem like an overwhelming task. So, how do you make sure everyone is accounted for?
Building a budget doesn't have to suck! The experts at Mattress Firm know exactly how to stretch your budget so that you can get more without spending more. Here are some of our favorite tips for tracking your family's budget — don't forget to download our handy budget tracker to help balance your spending with savings!
1. Be Patient and Realistic
So you're ready to build a budget and dive into the nitty-gritty and dirty details... but before you get started, remember one thing: building a budget takes time. Be prepared to set aside a few hours to create a template and gather general expenses. Although it may be a hassle in the beginning, you will thank yourself later once the hard work is done.
Also, don't forget to set realistic goals and expectations. Create a budget that sets you and your family up for success, providing feasible ways to manage your money.
2. Manage Income and Expenses
A successful budget accounts for all earnings and expenses. That means adding up all points of income and then subtracting expenses, both planned and unplanned. Once you have your grand total, break down your outgoing fees into subcategories. This will include utilities, secured and unsecured debts (like your mortgage and credit card bills) and discretionary spending.
You will want to create a range of spending for each of these and try not go over within each category. Watch our for discretionary spending as it can add up fast. Eating out, shopping and entertainment will sneak up on you and can easily blow your budget.
3. Pay Off Debt
Feeling the pressure from debt? Mattress Firm recommends setting aside a portion of your budget to help pay off those credit cards or student loans. Even if that means only making the minimum payment, a little bit can go a long way.
Debt can be a major problem for families, but if you budget successfully, you will never spend more than you can afford. If your payments are higher than you can manage, there are resources such as credit counselors that can help you create an alternative payment plan.
4. Set Aside for Savings
If you're able, it's always a good idea to save. Chances are, you will need some extra cash in the future, and having a rainy day fund will make the unexpected easier to handle.
Also, don't forget about upcoming child-related expenses you will need to save for — such as college or a car. In fact, the estimated cost of raising a child today is up to $233,000! Even though it may be difficult to leave a portion of your money untouched, you will be thankful once it's time to pay-up.
Although you may think you have your budget figured out, you can never be too careful when planning for tomorrow. Stay on top of your spending habits and make spending an active part of daily conversation, to make sure your household sticks to a budget.