There are a lot of things that make raising a family tough. Children can have random mood swings almost at the drop of a hat, temper tantrums can reduce the entire family to tears, and then you’ve got the expense of raising children to worry about too!
The good news is that while you might not be able to stop your kids from being unpredictable, you can at least get some more control over your money with a few handy budgeting tips. A budget doesn’t stop you from using your money however you choose – it simply ensures that you’re making decisions that are beneficial to you and your family in the long term. Here are our tips to get you started.
Keeping track of your money can be like trying to keep track of a toddler that’s just learned how to walk. Now that it’s easier than ever to just tap your phone or flash a piece of plastic and spend money, it’s increasingly difficult to keep track of your expenses. The good news is that there are tools out there to help you. Apps that allow you to track your spending or tap into your online bank account for instant notifications are a great way to get started.
While you’re at it, make sure you actually pay attention to the bank statements that you get from your bank once a month – these can form the basis of your budget.
Speaking of how easy it is to over-spend these days, if you find that you’re always going over your budget when you’re allowed to run rampant with a debit or credit card, it could be a good time to switch to cash. A lot of people have begun to ignore cash as a spending option these days, assuming that it’s too inconvenient to get it out of the bank to carry around with them.
However, if you go through the effort to take cash with you wherever you go instead of plastic, you’ll know that you can’t over-spend, even if you’re tempted. You’ll be restricted to the amount of money you have on you. Even if you decide to go home and get more, that at least gives you more time to think your impulse buys over.
Debt is one of those things that many people try to avoid at all costs. However, the truth is that most of us will need to take on a little debt at some time or another. Whether it’s a personal loan, a loan for a new car, or even a mortgage, you will have debt that you need to deal with.
The good news is that the more you prioritize paying off your debt, the faster you can make a dent in your interest rates and make a difference to your overall wealth. If you notice that you’re paying over the odds for your interest for a particular loan, consider finding out whether consolidation would be a good route for you.
No matter how good you are at budgeting, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss a few things when you first start tracking all of your expenses. For instance, have you thought about the presents that you need to buy for your kids’ friends throughout the years? Or the field trips that you need to pay for when they’re at school? Keeping some cash aside for these incidentals is crucial so that you don’t end up tapping into your savings.
While you’re building your “incidentals” fund, remember to have money aside for emergencies too. This will be the cash that you can turn to when something happens outside of your control, like your washing machine suddenly breaks, or you need to hire an electrician.
Finally, remember that having a budget isn’t about cutting out all the luxury expenses that you think that you don’t deserve. No-one does well in a budget when they think that everything, they like is being taken away from them. With that in mind, make sure that you leave some money in your budget for having fun and doing the things that you enjoy.
Additionally, at the end of each month, set some time aside where you can come back to your budget and find out whether it’s still working for you. Our lives change and expenses change with them! Don’t let your budget get stale.