If you are connected with me on social media (or read last month’s post) then you know that I had a hard time choosing a topic. I took a poll and a handful of people asked to hear my tips on family budgeting. In all honesty, this was the last thing I wanted to write about. It was on the list because my husband and I had just revamped how we do our monthly finances. At that same time, a close friend of mine also reached out needing a tool to help her and her husband plan each month. Once I knew that so many of you wanted advice in this area, I started asking my close friends and family how they run the finances in their households. I’ve compiled the best advice and have linked to our favorite tools below!
First, I want to share some of my personal opinions on the topic of budgeting and finances. It is my opinion that the days of the simple adage “spend less than you make” are long gone. Meaning that family finances today are complicated. Most people these days have student loans, car payments, and mortgage payments. The minutiae of those types of arrangements is confusing. Truth be told, I would have been lost if it weren’t for my dad (and later my husband) to help me navigate. For the same reason, I do not believe that family budgeting can be any one person’s job. I know families who have flip flopped between the husband or the wife being in charge of finances – and I don’t think either scenario is fair. I believe that it takes constant communication and teamwork to successfully run a family’s finances. Husbands and wives – you have to talk to each other about monthly needs and your overall financial goals!
Second, I want to share what we do in my house. On the last Sunday of the month my husband and I have a monthly budget meeting. It’s a serious meeting that goes on the calendar and we each prepare for. We use a custom monthly budget sheet to talk about the upcoming month. This is our time to speak up about anything coming up we would like to (or need to) spend money on. This is also our time to be honest with each other and discuss any overspending we noticed from the last month. We set goals together and we fill in the items on the sheet, so that we each know what disposable income we may (or may not) have that month. This helps with any unplanned things that come up. For example, I know if I can afford a special outing for the kids (or not) based on the ending balance. Feel free to use my monthly budget sheet, available for a $1 one time download and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about it!
Next, some of my favorite pieces of advice:
- Use cash for the categories where you know you are prone to overspend.
- Splitting bills (or keeping separate accounts) is totally okay and works well for many couples – if you can communicate.
- Even on the leanest of months, set aside some pocket money just for you. This will help you from feeling deprived.
- Do not let birthday or holidays blow your budget. Plan ahead for the type of celebration you want to have and don’t be afraid to keep it simple.
- While there are many expenses you can’t control, we have found one of the biggest hidden expenses you can directly control is your food costs. Take the time to price compare at the grocery store, cook more, plant more, and eat out way less.
- When costs come up that stress you out, calm down and ask yourself: can this wait 30 days? Can this be split up? You’d be surprised how many expenses can be adjusted if you only take the time to discuss it with someone.
Lastly, if you aren’t using Mint yet – get started now! It’s a budget tracker and planner that puts all your money in one place for easy viewing. In the slightly harsh but ever so honest words of my husband, ignorance is not a good excuse for bad finances.
So, what do you want to read about next month? Comment below!
XO – Olivia