20 Sep Family Strategies for Budgeting
$60,000 In Debt
My husband, Richard, and I were married in 2011. Shortly after our wedding we realized that we had $9 in our checking account, $100 in our savings account, and we owed $60,000 in debt. We took a personal budgeting class at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC. That’s where we learned how to use a budget to track our money. Gradually, we learned how to talk about our finances and create our own financial goals. Within two years, we had paid off all our debt and have used a budget ever since. Understanding where our money is, how we’re spending it, and why we are saving it has empowered our family. Teaching my clients how to create a plan for their money, and fund their future goals, is my business mission.
If talking about money with your spouse feels awkward that may be because many of us were not taught how to. A 2019 study from Boeing Employee Credit Union, BECU, found that only 28% of parents are talking to their kids about money. Richard and I spent about five months learning how to use a budget. Typically, to develop any new habit it takes 90 days. By understanding our family’s goals for finances, objectives for family time, and our children’s interest we have been able to adapt to the changes that have taken place since March 2020.
Basic Budgeting Strategies:
1. What is your income? Knowing how much money is coming in each month is essential for understanding how much you can spend.
2. List all of your non-mortgage debts. We had a car loan, student loans, and credit card debt in 2011. After we added everything up, I cried. The number was significantly more than we earned that year, but it was the wake-up call to start tracking our money. By knowing exactly how much we owed empowered us to make a plan.
3. Create a budget. There are several different ways to do this. There are apps, digital spreadsheets, and good old fashion paper ledgers to write in with pencils.
4. List out how much you plan to spend in each category. Look at your housing cost, grocery bills, monthly utilities, and transportation costs.
5. Update your budget once a week. List how much has been spent in each area, and if adjustments need to be made you can shift funds around.
Different Budgeting Styles
We started using a budget before we both had a smart phone, so to this day we still use an Excel spreadsheet. Regardless of what tool you use, documenting every purchase and updating the budget consistently are essential steps for understanding your finances. Richard and I set aside time each week to go over the budget together, and our kids hear us talking about our finances. That’s part of how we’re teaching them to use money. By tracking your finances, you are seeing where your money is going, and that will encourage you to say, “No”, to many purchases. If money hasn’t been set aside for fall candles, or a new bike for our daughter, or an impromptu dinner out we have a choice to make. Either move the purchase to next month’s budget or move money around in the current budget.
Benefits of Budgeting
By tracking your finances, you will be more confident to direct money towards the your goals. Personal finances should be viewed with a positive attitude. Regardless of how much money you have, you need to know where your money is. For more information on personal budgeting follow me on Instagram and Facebook @salchowcoaching. You can also schedule a free consultation on my website, www.salchowcoaching.com.