It’s easy to have a family budget. Neat rows of figures in columns, nicely balanced, with money left over every month to contribute to a nest egg. On paper it all seems so logical. Then the bills, the emergencies and the temptations arrive and nothing feels remotely like the logical numbers on the page.
Keeping to a family budget can be like trying to stick to a diet, or battling to maintain an exercise program through winter. In theory it’s possible, but there comes a time, quite early in the piece, when the misery makes you feel it’s not worth the effort, when you feel that life is too short to endure all this privation. Well, the opposite is actually true: life is too short not to stick to your family budget.
The Best Hard Work You Can Do
No one is pretending that keeping to a budget is easy. But there are a few principles that can help keep you on track.
Remember that your budget is simply a balanced scorecard. On one side of the ledger is a single figure: the amount you earn. On the other side should Bad Credit Home Loans be a list of every necessary monthly or weekly expense. This must include an average amount for annual bills and an allocation for emergencies and unexpected necessities. Construct your budget so that a little is left over for your savings. Then stick with your plan.
Managing the Budget
You can develop a few key habits that will help you stick to your budget without making your life a misery.
The first rule is so obvious that many people overlook it. Keep away from shops unless you have a purpose. Don’t browse shopping sites on the Internet unless you’re searching for a specific product that you need. Always ask yourself if your budget can afford this. Saying ‘No’ to yourself may feel mean at first, but as you see your budget remaining ‘in the black’, the pleasure you feel will outweigh any disappointment in choosing not to spend money unnecessarily.
It can be very important to consolidate your debt. Only do this with a reputable organisation, as there are many pitfalls. Get advice from an expert, and heed his or her advice.
Become an Expert Shopper
Go shopping with a purpose. Make a list before you go and stick to it. Only buy what you have on your list, but do shop around until you find the best deal. This will give you a lot of satisfaction and you’ll be surprised how much you can save on the basics.
In the supermarket, check value for money carefully. Sometimes specials will mean that buying two half-litre bottles of a product might be cheaper than buying a one-litre bottle. Buy in bulk if it’s something you genuinely use, but don’t be seduced by a ‘bargain’ unless it’s really relevant to your life.
Shop for major items on sale. Try to wait for the sales to buy clothes and shoes. Don’t ‘fall in love’ with an item. You may feel you have to have it at the time, but later, when it’s no longer new, the main thing remaining will be the damage to your budget.
Start paying for everything you can with cash. A credit card always encourages you to spend more money than you intended because the expense doesn’t feel ‘real’. Later, as you become accustomed to the discipline of sticking to a budget, you will be able to allow yourself to use credit on occasion, but it’s always a wise idea to avoid it as much as possible. Part of your budget plan must be to pay off your credit card bill every month, so anything that goes on your credit card must be part of your monthly budget.
Keep a record of everything you spend. This may seem pedantic, but it will prove a useful exercise. The very act of writing down your purchase will help you evaluate whether it’s something you really need and whether it fits your budget.
Your record will help you track your performance, and you can begin to challenge yourself. Sticking to a budget can be fun, and the rewards will be very satisfying. As you become better at budgeting, you may be able to allow yourself and your family an occasional treat from your savings. Even if it’s small, it will be all the more enjoyable because you have earned it. If you have a mortgage, sticking to your family budget can be a major factor in helping you to pay off your mortgage, and eventually becoming debt free.
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