With the responsibility of the family budget falling mostly on your shoulders, you are constantly on the lookout for ways to best budget your money to suit the growing needs of your young family. The first step is to take an honest look at all of your finances and spending habits. From there, decide where you are willing to cut corners and what you absolutely cannot do without.
1. Monthly Spending
You may need to track your spending for a month or two to get an accurate picture of where all of your money is going. Make a list of basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, food and gas and another list of debt including your car payments and credit card bills. Add up the monthly expenses from both lists and subtract it from your monthly take-home pay. If you find you have a deficit or are living paycheck to paycheck, this can spell trouble for you as you may incur additional debt to make ends meet, according to the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.
2. Prioritize Your Spending
Deciding on the best way to spend your money is not necessarily easy. There may be activities you don't want to give up or a bill you can't seem to pay down fast enough. Compromise with your family members to allow everyone an extracurricular activity he enjoys and pay the bill slightly more than the minimum each month to speed the pay-off along. Generally, the top priorities when creating a budget are home-related bills, basic day-to-day living expenses and car payments, according to the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. From there, it's based on your financial values and priorities.
3. Decrease Expenses
If you feel the need to decrease your expenses to live within your means, begin with requesting fee or interest rate reductions from your credit card companies or asking your service providers if they are offering any discounts to their current customers. Explain to them any hardship you are experiencing to see if they may be able to negotiate expenses, according to the Woman's Day article, "Thrifty Living: Top 10 Household Money Saving Tips." Canceling services you don't use, such as newspaper subscriptions or your telephone landline, can help reduce expenses. Eating more meals at home, using coupons and comparing prices on groceries and other purchases can help reduce your expenses and free up money within your budget each month.
4. Unexpected Expenses
No matter how well you plan your budget, unexpected expenses will arise. If you don't currently have a savings reserved exclusively for emergencies, make it a part of your budget to begin one. Car repairs, home repairs or emergency medical expenses can cause you to incur debt if you are unprepared financially. During the process of creating your budget, decide where you will cut expenses to allow for this necessity in your finances.
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