How to Make the Best Budget for Your Family
Budgets may sound boring. Making a budget today will help you reach your goals tomorrow. At the beginning of the month, sit down and look at your budget. Then take the following steps to manage your money. At the end of the month, look at your progress.
Start with Your Salary
The first step is to look at how much you make after taxes. If you’re married, combine your total income. Your total income includes your salary and any other money you receive each month.
Consolidate Your Bills
Look at how much your bills cost each month. Note that your bills will change. Your electricity bill will be dramatically different in the summer. When gathering all your bills, be sure you don’t forget anything.
While you’re looking at your bills, see where you can cut costs. Is your water bill too high? Cut down on water usage by taking shorter showers. If you’re electricity bill is too high, bump your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter. If your cell phone bill has spiked, look at how much data you’re using.
Subtract the cost of your monthly bills from your total monthly salary. This is how much you have to spend after you pay your bills. Once you know this amount, you can move forward with maintaining your budget.
Get with Your Goals
Think about why you want to make a budget. Are you hoping to save money for a big purchase? Are you saving for retirement? Are you paying off a credit card? Having a concrete goal will help you stay focused on saving money. You may have a few goals, but don’t get overwhelmed. With consistency, you can reach all your financial goals.
Make an Emergency Fund
Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, and that’s when you need an emergency fund. Setting up an emergency fund requires a few steps. First, determine how much money you need to save to feel secure. Financial experts suggest maintaining a six-month emergency fund. Second, start saving. Add to your emergency fund each month. Establish a routine, whether that means making monthly payments to this fund or enrolling in automatic withdrawal. Consider these funds off limits — don’t spend your emergency fund on luxuries. Third, decide where to keep your emergency fund. You can keep your money in an online savings account, where it’s accessible but not too tempting to spend.
Look at the Little Things
Examine your daily routine and see where you can cut costs. Spending $3 on coffee each day totals to $90 a month. Each year, that’s $1,080 you could spend on something more important. Look at how much you’re paying in gas. Reduce this cost by carpooling, walking, or cycling. If your pharmacy bill is too high, buy generic medicine and prescriptions.
Don’t Get Discouraged
There will be seasons you won’t be able to save as much money. You may not be able to grow your emergency fund one month because of an unforeseen situation. You may have a hard time cutting small costs. But saving $50 — or $5 for that matter — is better than nothing.