How To Use A Family Budget
This question immediately suggests that it should be part of the whole family budgeting process. It is much part
of the learning around setting it up, considering its usefulness, function and purpose.
Creating or setting up the budget is one thing. Sticking to it, effectively implementing, sustaining and
if actual fact, in essence ‘using’ it is the ultimate goal and achievement. That is worth celebrating. Families
have different ways again to use or refer to their family budgets.
For some it will be no more than a general guideline. For others it would constitute an absolute rule not to be
bent or broken. Others still will use the family budget as a strategic planning tool to protect the interests of
his/her family and plan for a full and happy life, setting a small amount aside for the future, invested smartly
and securely, with confidence and pride.
The very day the family budget actually assists you in reducing your spending and making informed smart
financial decisions that is the day you do not sit back and relax, but throw all your energy back in making it even
better. This is an on-going, continuous improvement exercise, experiment and undertaking of your own making, design
The family budget can:
- Assist you in handling unforeseen increases in costs and unbudgeted expenses
It is very common to get discouraged when on the family budgeting path. The minute you feel you have taken
strides forward, something will happen, a setback, unexpected upset or expense, breakdown, maintenance or
replacement or car, appliance, major purchase or repair and many other setbacks will occur.
In a sense it makes families more robust, responsive and adaptable. Tracking your finances makes you aware of
patterns and business cycles, cost and many other factors that affect hearth and home financial life and
health. Rent increases, more expensive cigarettes or tax increases, higher gas or energy prices or increased
mileage to and from work are but a few examples of these events and issues that might come up.
When faced with these challenges, problems or complexities, having your fingers on the pulse of your available
resources, discretionary monies, savings, line of credit, rates, banking fees and more, will all help you make the
right informed decision that is best for your family, at that time and act accordingly with diligence and
confidence. You are in control of your financial situation and not the other way around. It enlightens and
empowers you to do more with less!
Unpredictable pricing and fluctuating expense are not easy to reduce in any budget. Having this variation handy,
spread over a period of time, can help you plan better and anticipate sudden spikes or higher expenditure during
certain months of the year.
For example, the telephone bill is higher when the teenagers are home for the summer. Emergency,
contingency and improvements are not priorities for most of us when we receive our paycheck. To ensure a steady
stream of income into these categories make “saving for a rainy day” come to life and have some real impact and
meaning in our financial planning.
Cutting non-essentials first is a good strategy. Alcohol, long distance phone calls, gifts, gardening and
landscaping services, decorating costs, pet care needs, recreation and lottery tickets can all be good money-saving
categories. The more line items you can include, in your cost reduction, the smaller the dollar-amount impact in
It should come as not surprise that by just cutting a little in each of these categories, families can easily
save upwards of $240 per year without too much noticeable difference in their lifestyle or any major disruptions or
sacrifices. If is less than1 % of your total spending, it should not really cause pain, grief or reason for
Family budgets can also provide hints on how to save on non-essentials: Buying more or less of a product or
service, comparison shopping for the lowers possible price, bulk and discount, sale, buying a lower-priced or
no-name brand. Eliminating some gift giving (Christmas, birthdays, friends and family) is a way to save money.
Elimination of waste is another clever way to save money that is often overlooked, BUT not in the family budget.
Thrown out food because too much was purchased or it spoils because at time of purchase it was not as fresh as it
could have been. Spur-of-the-moment clothing purchases, too trendy, uncomfortable and not the right size
Making an active effort to participate in the family budgeting process will carry its own rewards as well.
Self-discipline and curbing your own spending will soon become second nature almost.