Bottom line: families cost money. There are bills to pay. There’s a mortgage or rent to pay. You, your partner and your children need to eat and drink. You all need clothes. Your child(ren) may have hobbies or money for school excursions. They’ll want toys. It all means you won’t be able to spend your money as you’d like to and will need to budget. Here are a few tips:
Establish your spending habits
The very first thing you need to do is establish what your spending habits are so you have a starting point from which to plan your spending and make any necessary changes. List all your expenses on a spreadsheet. You’ll be surprised at how much you’re spending. Where did all those coffees come from?
Decide what your financial priorities are
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to juggle lots of different priorities and should establish what your financial ones are. You need to think about your own retirement, any debts you have, building savings and also an education fund for your children’s later years. Paying off debt would be useful to free up cash for other expenses.
Review recurring expenses
Energy bills, car insurance and broadband packages are all regular expenses on which you could save money if you’re willing to shop around. Visiting a site such as Cable to check broadband and phone deals would be a good idea. You can sign up for a bundle. Your kids can make the most of the broadband to play games online and you can sign up for reduced rate phone calls, such as international calls or free weekend and evening calls, depending on the deal, to stay in touch with friends and relatives.
Use a grocery list
A grocery list is essential. It will help you to avoid making impulse buys. Plan your meals in advance, buy a handful of spices and buy your food in bulk. This will save you money in the long run. Aim to spend more on foods that have a higher nutritional value, such as fruit and vegetables, but a more moderate amount on moderately healthy food, including eggs, meat and other protein-packed foods. It’s not just about eating for less; it’s about eating well, too.
Review your budget
You may have created your budget, but the calculations don’t stop there. You should review your spending each week against your budget. It’s easy to spend more than you realise if you have a lot going on. Maybe certain bills are more than you expected them to be, you’ve had expenses you didn’t expect or were even just unrealistic when you set your budget.
Although sticking to your budget requires discipline, there are times when you should change it. If your circumstances change in some way — say, if you are unfortunate enough to be on the end of a redundancy — this will affect your income. You should revise your budget to stretch it further if you can. You should also adjust your budget if your financial goals change.
Families have lots of expenses and you could have to pull tight on the purse strings. With some careful budgeting, however, you can make your money go further so that your family has everything it needs.