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Five Steps To Creating A Family Budget
By Lyn Bell
Getting started on creating your family budget can be as easy as 1,2,3. In just five steps you can be on the path to sorting your finances. Budgeting is an important first step in planning your family finances and evermore important in this day and age with rising costs. A budget is an empowering tool letting you control your money instead of your money controlling you.
Step one: Find out your monthly income.
This is your take-home pay and regular funds from other sources such as rental, interest etc. Income from all member of the household should be included.
Step two: Establish what your expenses are.
Writing your expenditures down will provide you with the unique opportunity to find out if your money goes for things that you do not really need. This list should include necessities such as food; regular bills such as rent; insurances, school costs, vehicle expenses and incidentals. Also include entertainment and any saving.
Step three: Work out how much you spend on each expense.
Some expenses will come in regularly each month but others are perhaps annual or quarterly. The trick here is to include each expense in your monthly budget. An annual bill for example will be divided by 12 to give you the monthly figure. This way there's no nasty surprises when the bill comes through. Also allow a sum for unexpected expenses.
Step four: Compare your monthly expenses with your monthly income.
This could result in a surplus (positive) or a deficit (negative). A surplus is great as you can save more -- or spend it. A negative means you are spending more than you have coming in and will need to cut costs.
Step five: Balance your budget.
If you have found that your family budget shows that you are spending more than you are earning you will need to cut back on spending. Work out how much you need to cut down on and find where you can make these changes. Do not make cuts in your budget that you are unable to live with or that are unrealistic. When you make these decisions keep your real expenses and living realities in the forefront of your mind. Re-balance your budget after you have made the cuts.
The good news is that whether you are "in the red", just scraping by, managing to save a little, or a lot, this five step family budgeting process will highlight areas where your immediate attention is needed. And if you are trying to get out of debt cutting expenses is crucial and not only if you are over budget.
Re-visit your family budget often -- it should be an active process and is an invaluable tool to help you keep your fingers on the pulse of your financial situation. If you can stick with your family budget it can help you to meet your goals, get out of and stay out of debt, to always pay your bills on time, keep track of your spending and make the most out of your dollar.