Have A Family? Get A Budget!

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!

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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

About Glen

Glen is married and the father to four children that he spends the day chasing as a stay-at-home-dad. He took an interest in personal finance when he realized most of his paycheck was going toward credit card bills. Since then he's eliminated his credit card debt and started on a journey towards financial freedom.

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  1. The point you’ve raised about families on a single income is a really valid and relevant one and it’s usually only when the family is faced with the prospect of a single income that they realize just how essential a written budget is.
    Sadly, too many people tend to ignore the necessity for such discipline and then wonder why there’s never enough to last and why the bills just keep mounting up. Personally, I think the best time to get into the habit of budgeting and planning future finances and investments is while you have more income or a double income to work with. That way, the fruits and benefits of budgeting can be experienced and the practice becomes a good habit that can then carry a family through tougher times such as those that many families have been faced with throughout this recession.
    Thanks again for your useful article Stay-at-home-dad!
    Barbara

    • For us, we realized that having more kids would mean one of would stay home. This is when we started to budget and live like we had one income. Extra from the other income went into savings. When our son was born, we had an ample emergency fund that we could tap into. We fully expected to use our savings but interestingly we didn’t need to and that was when we knew we could live off one income.

      I think many families spend to the full extent of two incomes so if one is lost their spending habits can’t handle it.

  2. Until my wife and I started using a budget we had no idea where our money was going. After we realized that I was spending $50 a month on sodas, we finally understood how important a budget actually could be. I honestly think that if we did not have a written budget my wife would have had to go back to work; which is not in the plan!