How to budget for a growing family

Whether you live each month never having to watch the dollars and cents or spend your days counting every dime, it’s essential that you maintain a certain degree of control over your budget, even if you’re lucky enough to replenish your savings as soon as they’re spent. The cost of living is unlikely to decrease any time soon, and the unpredictability of raising small children and managing a household takes its toll on a parent’s wallet. There’s never been a better time, then, to budget for that growing family – or the existing unit that you take such care to protect and sustain.

Keep a firm eye on expenditures

Of course, the only way to establish a budget is to get to grips with what you’re spending each month, and to understand where every dime, nickel, cent and dollar is actually going. Take out your laptop or a pen and a sheet of paper and write out a list of bills, demands and extras that you typically pay for, alongside the cost of each. How much money do you receive in terms of salary or state help? What expenses simply must be met each month, and what could you cut back on, if necessary? Seeing the figures in black and white, or any variation thereof, will help you establish a budget and to better understand your chances of sticking to it each month.

Purchase a sensible family car

I cannot stress how important it is to ensure your family has access to a suitable, reliable vehicle. Such a car, or minivan in some cases, is going to be needed to transport members of your family from A to B, and should always be ready in an emergency. Imagine not being able to get to a doctor’s appointment, or the hospital, when you really need to, and you’ll see why certain, cheaper runarounds just won’t cut it. A sensible family car is one big expenditure your family should make; an investment, to say the least. Of course, it’s not always possible to pay larger amounts up front, which is where car loans come in useful. Before signing on that dotted line, always check how much your interest rate affects your monthly payment, and be sure that you can keep on top of that amount each month. Oh, and add that new repayment into your spreadsheet!

Establish an emergency fund

We’d all be in a lot of trouble if we stuck to our budgets rigidly, with little room to breathe; imagine spending 99% of your monthly allowance only to discover that a school trip, medical bill or home repair needed to be paid for immediately. Top financial experts recommend adding a 20% buffer to your weekly or monthly budget, ensuring there’s always something left over to cover those unexpected costs. As said before, children are unpredictable beings, so it always pays to cover yourself financially. Besides, wouldn’t it be great to get to the end of the month with money to spare, and to know you can either treat your family or add to your savings?

Shop smart

To make your budget go further, it’s important to know how to shop smart; that is, understand how to make retailers work for you, and not the other way around. Shop around wherever possible, using discount codes, coupons and voucher sites to get the very best deals on items you need. Stocking up when there’s a sale is a fabulous idea, ensuring you have items that you might need ready and waiting when you actually need them. Sign up to the newsletters and membership schemes of your favorite stores, and buy in bulk when you can. Once you’ve bought in bulk, you’ll be able to use those tasty ingredients to cook larger meals that can be portioned and frozen – nothing complements a tight budget quite like a meal that will go much, much further for your family. Popular menus include casseroles and stews, pasta sauces and soups.

Be sure to save a little too

Sure, that 20% extra you budget for each month will come in handy if you have an emergency one month, but how will you pay for luxuries, such as vacations, if you’re leaving yourself little extra to play with? The phrase, “saving for a rainy day” is never more applicable as it is when you’re a parent; those rainy days can be a killer when you’ve young children to entertain and little money left to do it with. That said, there are numerous free activities that you can complete with a young family, including long nature walks, craft exercises and trips to locally organized events. There’s plenty to be accomplished on any given rainy day, and there are many ways to save those dollars.

Of course, the best way to stick to a budget is to ensure you’re living within your means each month, and only spending what you can really afford. Credit cards can be a lifesaver, but those tiny bits of plastic should never be a means to living a lifestyle you just cannot keep up with. It’s also a really good idea to prioritize your time and activities, and to ensure the most important bills are paid first. Above all, budgeting is about getting creative with your time and resources. Will your children remember the numerous presents or expensive days out they’ve been on, or the fact that you spent time together as a family? Raising children is no simple feat, but it needn’t be one that wrecks your budget.

Comments

  1. cgrandy823 says:

    You’ve mentioned many important ways to be financially responsible when you have a growing family. I definitely agree with your last couple of sentences – there are many inexpensive activities that will be fun, educational and memorable for the family.

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