Doing a family budget will help you understand where your money is being spent, ways to better manage personal finances, and how to save cash to meet your financial goals.
Follow our expert tips to help you compile a budget and start saving:
Write down what you spend your money on
The first step to take when thinking about organising a family budget is to find out how much money you spend and what it buys each week.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of all your expenses for a month, which will give you a rough idea of where the money goes!
Once you draw up a budget it will help you take better control of your money and give you tips on where savings can be made.
Set a time frame for your budget
Decide on a time frame for your budget – it could be a weekly, monthly or a yearly plan – depending on the financial goals you’d like to achieve.
Estimate your family’s income
Estimate your weekly, fortnightly, or monthly wages (after tax) plus any other income that you regularly receive. Also include money such as bonuses, income from investments, shares or interest, government benefits and payments.
Analyse your family’s living expenses
Living expenses could be divided into two different categories for your budget – those that are essential (your needs) and those that you like to have (your wants).
The essential costs to list in the budget will include housing, utilities, transport, food, education, and medical expenses.
Your wants are goods and services that you like to have but are not required to live such as takeaway food, a coffee at work, Pay TV and gifts.
Calculate the difference between your total income and expenses
If you have money left over (you have a surplus and are “in the black”) then additional money could be saved to help meet your financial goals.
If you are over-budget (you have a deficit and are “in the red”) it’s time to change your spending habits and re-work your budget.
One of the easiest ways to trim your budget and to save money is to stop buying any unnecessary “extras” that you’ve identified.
Regularly update your budget
It is a good idea to review your budget annually – especially if circumstances have changed. For example, you might get a pay increase, buy a home, or there may be an addition to the family.
This article was created for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading parenting website. Sources include Fido and Understanding Money.