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7 Tips for Creating a Family Budget

Aug 18, 2007
For many people creating a family budget is an exercise in frustration. Where to start, how to set it up, should I use budgeting software? Are all questions that nearly everyone asks? And then when they do get it set up and start tracking the money coming in and the money going out something happens. An emergency or an impulse buy that screws the whole thing up.

Unfortunately the majority of people give up on their family budget before they ever give it a chance to do what it is supposed to do. One thing everyone needs to understand is that a budget is not a rigid thing. It is flexible and needs to allow for those unintended purchases or emergencies that life is full of. And if you stick with it before long it will be a cash flow planning device you cannot live without.

That's all a budget really is, a cash flow plan for your money. That's right, your money, which should be working for you, not the other way around. A budget allows you to track your income and expenses, giving each dollar a task each and every month. This gives you a good picture for paying bills, setting aside savings, and planning for the future.

If you are having trouble creating a family budget here are 7 tips you can use to make the process easier. Get a piece of paper and list out income on one side and expenses on the other.

1. Calculate your monthly income by gathering three months worth of pay stubs and averaging the monthly earnings.

2. Figure out your monthly bills by averaging the last three months worth. Do this for expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, phone bills, car payments or other fixed monthly expenses. You can also do this for those monthly expenses that move up and down from month to month such as credit card bills and groceries.

3. Subtract your monthly expenses from you income and see if you have any money left over. You will start to see areas where you might be spending too much money and can cut back on. This can free up money for other purposes.

4. Now that you have everything listed out in front of you you can start assigning certain amounts of money to certain expenses. As you make those payment note them in your budget to see if you are staying on track.

5. As you find ways to cut expenses you can also start designating a certain amount of money that goes into savings or retirement accounts every month.

6. Your first budget may not work out quite right. It takes most people around three months to start getting their budget working. Be patient and keep working at it, before long it will become second nature and you will have control over your money.

7. Once you have a good grasp on your hand written budget look into getting personal budgeting software such as Quicken or Microsoft Money. This will make your budget much easier to work with and they offer additional feature that can help you plan your financial future.

These are the basic steps for creating a family budget that will get you started and on your way to taking back control of you financial life. If you stick with it before long you will start to realize how much money you used to waste and how much better it feels to know where your money is going and how it is working for you.
About the Author
Andrew Bicknell researches and writes on a variety of subjects. To learn more about creating a family budget please visit his website Household Budgets by clicking here .
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