Whether you are budgeting for the first time, or have been doing so for years there's always room for improvement.
Budgeting for a family can be daunting because you've got so many expenses to take into consideration.
The most important thing about a budget is that it gives you a definite outline of what you need to keep the household running smoothly. Just by having a practical plan you have already saved yourself time and money. Here are 10 ways to improve your family budget and save even more.
#1) Include the whole family when setting up the budget
When it comes to planning your budget the natural inclination is to do it all on your own. While there's nothing wrong with that, you may miss out on the benefits of planning it with the rest of your family.
This is a great way to bond with your family while getting them involved in your plans to save money. They may be able to offer you valuable insight and ideas on how to cut down on costs.
For younger children, this may not be quite as much fun. Teaching them to budget their pocket money when they start to learn about currency at school is a great way to teach them how to be responsible with money. As they grow older, this will give them the tools they need to be a part of the family budget night.
#2) Reconsider your expenses
There'll be expenses that are non-negotiable, such as rent or mortgage payments, car payments, and school fees. However, there may be some expenses you can save on if you just shop around a bit.
Finding an insurance company that offers you the same or better benefits than your current insurer is a good place to start. This is a brilliant way to save money in both the short and long term.
Choosing service providers
Shop around for cell phones, internet, and other service providers. Choose the service that gives you the best benefits for the lowest price. Phone numbers can be migrated to other service providers and this is a good way to save money without compromising on the quality of service.
Accounts without prepayment penalties
If you have accounts and personal loans that won’t charge you a prepayment penalty, you can save a lot of money by paying them off as soon as possible. By doing this you will save the money you would’ve paid in interest and administration fees every month until the end of the loan term.
Find space in your budget for clothing. By saving money to buy clothes instead of buying them on an account you have a wider variety of stores to choose from and won’t be expected to pay extra fees.
#3) Reduce your debt
Debt consolidation is another great way to improve your budget and save money. You can choose to pay off all your smaller debts at once using your credit card or by taking a debt consolidation loan.
By consolidating your debt you cut down on the interest and administration fees each lender charges you. You will only pay one set of fees and depending on your choice of lender or credit card you will be paying more favorable rates and on better terms. The amount of money you save by doing this can be staggering. As a side benefit, you'll improve your credit score.
#4) Look at ways to reduce your utility bills
You can improve your budget by saving on your utility bills. Simply by being more aware of utilities like your petrol or electricity usage you can start reducing costs.
Buy appliances that don’t have LEDs that shine even when they are not in use. Use energy-saving light bulbs and turn lights off when a room is not in use. Plan your children's after school activities and your routs to and from work to save on petrol.
#5) Review your food budget & make shopping lists
Cutting down on your grocery bill could turn out to be a lot more fun than you think. Planning ahead is the best way to save time and money.
Plan a menu for the week that includes meals and snacks. Not only will this give you a chance to make healthier choices but it will give you something to base your shopping list on. You’ll save on petrol, time, and cut down on impulse purchases.
Compare prices and if possible choose in house brands where possible. You’ll be amazed at how much this can simplify your budget.
#6) Set up a savings account for emergency funds
It's important to try to plan for emergencies and in the long run, it will prove it’s own reward. You can’t plan for all contingencies by an emergency fund can cushion you if you run into trouble.
Having an emergency fund will also give you an option that won’t cause you to go into debt. There will be a time and a place for borrowing money, but it shouldn’t be your only choice.
Open a separate savings account with a bank who won’t charge you fees on that account and deposit your emergency funds budget directly into that account.
#7) Have a Luxuries section in your budget
A budget is not meant to deprive you of everything you want, it’s simply a financial plan that puts your needs into perspective. by adding a luxuries section to your budget you can put aside money for your family's wants such as a family holiday. This stops you from overspending on things that you can save up for instead.
Use this section of your budget to save up for a night out for the family or a trip to the beach. Dip into it for birthday gifts or a movie night.
#8) Set realistic financial goals
So many people give up on a budget because it seems so unattainable. To avoid this, make realistic goals.
To begin with, your budget should be flexible allowing a margin for error. Your first goal will be to make sure you are not spending more than you earn. Make short term goals with the aim to improve your budget.
With success will come confidence in your plan and before you know it you’ll have an ever-increasing amount of money in your savings and luxury budget.
#9) Revise your budget periodically
As the cost of living rises it becomes necessary to revise your budget periodically. Adjust your budget for increases in rent, heating, gas, and electricity.
This revaluation is not only for the increase in costs. Your budget will also need to change to accommodate increases in income. When you finish paying off those outstanding accounts, you’ll have to decide which part of your budget to allocate the newly freed-up funds to.
#10) Stick to the plan
Once you have come to the point where your budget is running smoothly don't lose the plot. By sticking to a workable budget you will save money and be financially stable in the long run. If your budget isn't working, then reevaluate it until it does.
You can also use mobile apps and resources to make budgeting easier. Some apps can also link directly to your bank account and classify expenses automatically. This saves you a lot of time and makes it easier to actually stick to your plan!