You have a family. That means you have more mouths to feed and clothe than just you and your spouse. That means your money has to do more than it did before you had kids. That means the bills pile up faster and the bank account disappears quicker. And yet there are a ton of families out there that have no sort of budget yet wonder where there money goes. Why is this? Is a budget so difficult? (It’s not). Are you scared of a budget? (Don’t be). Don’t have the time? (It doesn’t have to take that long). You need to have a budget!
A budget doesn’t have to be complex. You don’t have to write down every little thing you buy and save every reciept and create a giant spreadsheet that would make an accountant proud. But you DO need to track what money comes in versus what money goes out. Without that simple equation then you’ll find it difficult to see if you have enough money and to save for your goals.
For us, a budget keeps us from overdrawing our accounts and it keeps our bills paid on time. It shows us that my wife’s salary is enough to cover our expenses. And that’s the basics of a budget – that your paycheck can at least cover what you’re spending (and hopefully some left over).
For one month keep all of your bill stubs. Toss them in a drawer or put them in an envelope, but keep them. Jot down what you spend on groceries. Yes, keeping the receipt works great but writing down a round number works too. Figure out where your money is going for a month. Then look at your paycheck. Does your paycheck cover what your spending? This is a huge question you need to figure out! If your paycheck does cover it that’s great. That doesn’t mean some more digging into a budget wouldn’t help but at least you know you’re covering yourself. If your paycheck doesn’t cover your expenses then you’re in trouble. You need to figure out either how to make more money or where to cut expenses. Odds are more money is tough or you’d be making it already so look at cutting your expenses. You need to cut back or change some habits in your spending to the point that your paycheck at least covers your expenses.
“But I can charge it and pay it later,” you say. Yes, you can. Maybe. But odds are you are fooling yourself. If you can’t make ends meet now what makes you think you can do it later on and have enough to pay for past expenses that have been accruing interest? You can’t. Do yourself a favor and take a cold look at your expenses and your lifestyle. Get your expenses under control!
Without a budget my family could never survive on one income. Too much of our money would leak out on expenses like eating out and stuff for the kids that our income wouldn’t suffice. But because we track how much we spend we get by. And I’m able to stay home to raise the kids. That is priceless!
You have a family. You need to take care of them. A budget, of any sort, will help you to make sure you have the money you need for your family.
photo credit: psyberartist