Planning a family budget for 2013
The first and most crucial place to begin when planning how to best spend your money for 2013 is to remember to spend less than you earn. Doing the opposite, i.e., spending more than you earn, will give you a monkey on your back because of debt; in fact this monkey can soon begin to feel like a 10 ton gorilla as your debt piles up. Save yourself the worry and make a budget that is workable for you and your family. You can do it! Really you can.
The second place to start is to take a close look at what the word ‘budget’ means to you. Do you picture living on beans and rice because you have all gone on a budget? Do you worry that all the things you love will have to be sacrificed to the all inclusive budget sheet? If you are already living within your income, you do not need to think like this. Budgeting is simply being more aware of where your money goes so that you can have more cash for the things that matter most to you. You will actually be freeing up your finances to better care for the needs and wants of you and your family members. Choosing not to fritter away your cash will allow you to put it towards a fun family trip or paying off the mortgage sooner. Owning your home outright is a big one for peace of mind. Just keep your end goal in mind as you spend throughout the month.
Let’s look at an example to see how this can work. Let’s say you have just had a busy morning getting shopping done with the kids. You have finally finished buying shoes for all the kids and supplies to paint the family room and a birthday present for Grandma Evelyn. Now you’re on your way home. Everyone is hungry. If you have family budget, and you’ve already spent the money you had set aside for eating out expenses, the decision is made for you. You don’t have to weigh the options of getting something fast but nutritionally unwise. You simply drive home and make sandwiches or heat up some soup. It’s a no brainer. And now you are ahead in at least 2 ways: your budget has not been blown and your kids just got a healthier meal than they would have at the local Ring-A-Ding Burger. It may take everyone awhile to get used to the new pattern, but if you remain firm, and stick to it, the kids will accept it.
A budget for a typical household includes these items:
- Groceries/Eating Out
- Loan Payments
- Credit Card Payments
- Personal Care Articles
- Medical Expenditures
- Education Costs
- Gifts or Charitable Donations
You can find samples of these budgets numerous places online – available for free. If you don’t need all these categories, just use the ones that are pertinent to your family.
A word about the above list. If you find yourself crossing off the last item, Savings, think really hard about that. It is an incredibly unsure world financially in 2013, do you really want to leave yourself no safety net to fall back on if needed? Get in the habit of saving. Start small so you don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Just take $5 from every budget item that is not set. Obviously, you can’t underpay the mortgage or utilities, but you can buy one less bag of potato chips and make those socks last a bit longer just to start a savings account. People who save do not earn any more money than you. In fact, statistically, they usually earn less than non-savers. Saving is a habit, not a luxury for those you think have more money than they know what to do with. It really is doable, and you and your family can make it work by just making those simple changes and finding ways to save rather than thinking of excuses not to save.
Everything has a cost. If you do not live within your means, that cost can quickly spiral out of control. If you do begin to live on less than you earn, you may feel the pinch as you have to give up one movie night or do without a video game, but you’ll find you can sleep better at night because your bills aren’t about to overtake you. Do yourself a favor and learn what a certain government can’t – spending less than you have is a recipe for safety; the opposite is an invitation to disaster.