Your family budget does not necessarily have to fit a template – even if you do use a template, you can customize it. A budget that really fits your style and family dynamic tends to be a lot easier to stick with, and can even be fun!
Here are some tips for making a creative, customized family budget.
1. It’s Your Family Budget
Get your whole family to participate in creating the budget to make it really yours. Create common goals and brainstorm for fun and creative budgeting ideas. Decide what you want to spend in each area (food, clothes, entertainment, going out, gadgets etc.) and which areas have to be covered no matter what (household utilities, transport, health insurance etc.)
2. Have a good oldfashioned cookout
The great American cookout is a great way to have an “outing” while saving money. If you grill seasonal garden vegetables, it’s an even bigger money saver. Get creative – you can grill inexpensive, “ordinary” foods and make them seem like a treat. For example, mix up some flat bread dough and cook it on the grill. You can even do pizza on the grill!
3. Go “Shopping” for What You Don’t Need
This can be fun as a family. When you’re out running errands or at the mall, make a point of pointing out all the useless things you see that you don’t need. Some people can have a lot of fun with this – they find the craziest looking clothes, for instance, and laugh about how much they don’t need them and how much they’re saving. It’s fun, but it also teaches your family some important lessons about needs versus wants.
4. Creative Savings – a New Take on the “Swear Jar”
Have you heard of a “swear jar”? Some families who are trying to improve their language will institute a swear jar. Any family member who swears has to put a quarter or 20 pence into the jar. Get creative with your family – is there something your family would like to improve on that could use a “swear jar”? Here are some ideas:
- Every time your child talks back he or she has to put a quarter in the jar.
- Playing video games, watching television, and other entertainment media “costs” 50 cents or 50 pence for every half an hour.
- Family members must pay a quarter each time they don’t put away their shoes, toys, or whatever item always seems to be left on the floor each day.
- Complaining about dinner will cost family members 50 cents or 50 pence each.
Another method is simply never to spend change. When you pay cash for something, always use the next whole amount of money or use ‘paper money’ – if the total is $5.26 or £5.26, give the shop assistant $6 or £6. Then put this change into the jar. You’ll be amazed at how this can accumulate over the year, especially if you use cash often.
5. Fix it Yourself by Following DIY Videos
Make use of all those online tutorials to fix minor problems around the house. Try typing your problem into your search engine and look for tutorials. It’s amazing how much information is on the internet, even for solving obscure problems.
6. Have a designated savings account
It sounds pretty obvious, but it’s a good idea to have a designated savings account for your savings. This way, when you have a money to put it, it will stay in a separate account and you won’t be tempted to spend it.
7. Have a no spend day
Decide on a day when you are not going to buy anything. Regular payments, such as getting to work, household utilities etc are allowed but anything else is not. If you are having a ‘no spend day’ for the first time, don’t choose a weekend as it could be a bit harsh to start with, especially if you have young children.
But pick a week day and let all the family know what it means (e.g. no treats, no food shopping etc.). Also let everyone know why you are actually doing this. You can explain that money is tight right now and that this will help to save for the washing machine or holiday (or whatever you are saving for).
8. Swap spending around
Think about how you can swap certain things around to start saving money. For example walk instead of using bus or a car on a short journeys. Swap buying brand food items for non-branded ones (the chances are that your family won’t even notice the swap and you’ll save a lot of money on food shopping).
9. Sell what you don’t need
This could be another fun family activity – let everyone decide what they could be without and then sell it, whilst raising money for whatever you need. Make sure you don’t make it too harsh on your children, by choosing and selling only what they grown out of or really don’t need or play with.
Use Ebay or other online selling platforms to list everything that’s worth selling and the rest can be donated to a charity or swap locally for other toys or clothes. By swapping your children toys, you won’t get more money, but they will get ‘new’ toys or clothes, which would still cost you money if you had to buy them, so it’s still counts as savings (in my books anyway!).
10. Review your spending as a family
It’s good idea for children to understand how the family money is spend. Next time when they want a new toys or clothes, you can remind them that the electricity needs to be paid first othewise you can’t cook the dinner and they can’t watch the TV.
By sitting down as a whole family and looking over everything that needs to be paid, your children will start to learn about money early in life. Even if they won’t understand exactly everything, the fact you are involving them at such an early stage will help them in the future.
I remember that from an early age, I knew exactly how much money we had coming in and what our outgoings were. For a long time, we only had my mum’s income, so we knew we couldn’t ask for new books or fancy clothes or toys, because we knew the money was for more important things.
11. Buy second hand things
Buying or not buying second hands things, is more about psychology than functionality. It’s no brainer that good second hand car can save you at least 1/3 of a new car price and the only difference is that somebody else own it before. Once you can – mentally – get over the fact that somebody owned the car before, the savings are worth having.
Have a think about your next purchase. Could the -car,tv, washing machine, laptop, phone etc. be purchased as a second hand? How much could you save?
My other budget tips
- How to start saving, when you are trying hard to find money >>
- Practical tips on getting back control of your finances >>
- 7 easy ways to reduce your household cost>>
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