Tips and Tricks for Creating a Family Budget

Budgeting… a dreaded word for some.  I’m going to take a minute and show you how I created the very first Smith Family Budget that’s currently taped to our refrigerator.

Before we start a little back story:

I was a girl who had no clue how to handle her finances.  Before getting married I took out student loans, financed a car AND used a credit card to buy things I wanted but didn’t have the money for.  Then I married a man who was a little better with his money… but not much.

After getting married Dallas started seminary and we started paying for graduate school without taking out loans.  All from one income.  Then we got pregnant. We realized we were up to our necks in debt and had almost no savings.  Since then we’ve had to discipline ourselves to save money.

We’ve slowly been chipping away at our debt. While it looks better now than it did when we got married we are ready to knock it out.  We’ve both had enough of being tied down to debt.

So all that brings us to budgeting.

I’m not a budgeting master.  In fact I’m still learning how to better plan, save and follow a budget.  That being said here are the things I did to help get our Smith Family Budget up and rolling.

Look at your current spending habits.

It’s hard and can make you cringe but I went back a full THREE months and dissected our bank statements.  It took almost two days but I categorized and organized every single payment.  The stores like Target and Amazon were hard because I couldn’t always remember what exactly I had bought but I did the best I could.  Dallas and I sat down and looked at our past three months of spending to really soak in how much we spent on certain things.

{RELATED: Goal Setting as a Family & the Books to Help}

Where can you cut back?

We didn’t touch any bills (at first).  We looked at all the extra categories and decided together what our new goal would be for each category.  One of our biggest categories was eating out and coffee.  So we set a much smaller budget for those things as well as household items and clothing.  Then we looked through our bills and did research on discounts and other providers to make sure we were paying the lowest rates possible!

Have a plan.

We’re following a Dave Ramsey plan (baby steps) and use his budgeting app (every dollar).  We use the free app and read the book, which was a gift.  You don’t have to spend money to get started with budgeting.  However, you need some kind of plan.  Are you going to save first, tackle debt first?  Are you going to zero in on one category of spending like grocery shopping?  Figure out a plan that works for your family and your goal for budgeting.

Look ahead.

Another thing I did was look ahead at what an entire year looks like in our home. I wanted to plan for everything that can be planned for.  So my contacts that I order every three months? Those are in the budget.   Our yearly car inspections and registrations?  Those are also in the budget.  Our goal is to set aside what we need monthly to be fully prepared and ready for “big” expenses that only pop up every once in awhile.

Type it all up.

That’s right.  Make it visual.  Use an app or an excel document but write out your entire budget and if you’re married share it with your husband.  If you children are older, share it with them as well.  Make sure it’s somewhere easily accessible and visible as a constant reminder.  Maybe post it next to some motivation or the reason you are budgeting.

Remember why you’re doing it.

You just have to do it now.  Discipline is key.  Remember your purpose for budgeting and hold on to that when it gets hard.  Find accountability and show grace.  We definitely don’t have it figured out.  We also are not debt free (yet).  There’s a long road ahead of us before we become the next success story.  However, we’re motivated and determined and excited to be moving forward on the path we’re on.

 

-Brittany Smith-

 

 

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