Putting together a family budget that everyone in your household can realistically stick to is harder
than it seems. While many of us come up with budgets, using our best intentions to predict our
expenditure over the coming months, the truth is that it can be incredibly challenging to try and
restrict your own spending – never mind the spending of your family too.
While you can spend hours scribbling on a piece of paper and calculating figures, it’s important to
have a plan in place that’s going to help you to stick to the decisions you make. Here are just a few
tips to help.
1. Get Yourself Organised
The first step to good budgeting is making sure that you have everything you need on your budget.
While it’s easy to overlook the little things like an occasional coffee, those small items will quickly
add up and throw you off course by the end of the month. Don’t just guess how much you spend, or
you’ll end up forgetting things. The best thing you can do is get a few months worth of bank
statements and make a note of everything.
As you progress through the month, track your spending carefully, making a note of everything you
buy – even the small expenses. This will help you to see when you need to make changes to your
2. Adapt your Habits as Necessary
Creating a household budget is like going on a diet. If you cut out all the things you enjoy from day
one and never give yourself any sources of pleasure, then you’re more likely to fall off the wagon. If
you like the occasional takeaway or a night out with friends, make sure that you don’t cut those things
out of your life completely – just change your habits a little.
Consider inviting your friends to come over for a night in, which can work out as a lot cheaper than
the prices at a pub or consider cutting the cost of takeaways by cooking your favourite meals at home.
3. Keep your Budget Simple
There are plenty of tools and apps out there that can help you to manage your budget today. For some
people, these apps will be incredibly helpful, as they’ll make it easier for you to track what you’re
spending without constantly carrying around a pen and a piece of paper.
However, the key to successful budgeting is making sure that you keep the process as simple and
straightforward as possible for you. Find out what makes your life easier and stick with it. If that
means writing everything out on a sheet of paper, that’s fine too. The simpler your budget is, the more
likely you are to stick with it.
4. Round Your Expenses Up
If you’;re paying out £37.15 for a monthly bill, then it’s worth rounding that number up to £38 on your
budget. This will make it simpler to keep track of the figures, and it also means that you can figure out how much cash will be left over in your account at the end of each month with ease. Even if this just
means that you save a couple of pennies, you’ll find that it all adds up in the end.
When it comes to planning your income, take the opposite approach and round everything down. By
the time you’ve finished the month, you might even have a couple of pounds left over that you can use
any way you like.
5. Set your Limits and Stick to Them
As mentioned above, it’s important to be realistic with your budget. That means that you can’t
expect yourself to suddenly give up everything you enjoy. However, you will need to set limits you
can stick to if you want to accomplish your financial goals. Once you’ve figured out how much you’re
going to need to spend on direct debits and other expenses each month, draw the cash out of your
account and split that money into envelopes for every week of the month.
This is a great way to avoid the temptation that comes with having a credit or debit card in your hand
that you can use to overspend whenever you feel like it.
6. Don’t Give Up
Finally, if something goes wrong and you accidentally overspend on your budget, don’t throw in the
towel and decide that you’re done trying. Look back over what happened and think about what you
can do to fix the issue in the future. If your household budget is too tight for instance, it might be
worth giving yourself some room to breathe. There’s a learning curve to manage in budgeting, but you
will get there eventually.