Family Budget

A family budget can be fun and exciting or challenging and frustrating.

It all depends on how you use it.

Budgets are a simple way to take charge of your money. They can be empowering.

I find that even when our budget has been extremely small, as long as all our bills got paid and we had some left over it was satisfying.

When you have a working budget you can plan for your future and make sound financial decisions.

Sometimes they are tedious. Especially for someone like me who doesn?t have a natural aptitude for accounting. In fact I hardly passed my basic accounting class in college. I couldn?t stay awake.

Nevertheless, without a budget you don?t know where you money is going. When that happens it is easy or get into too much debt to get behind on credit card payments or auto loans.

Money is an important part of life, you can control it or it can control you.

The start of a budget is to simply track your expenses. Spend a few months recording everything you spend. Not just a checkbook balance but an actual accounting for where each dollar was spent.

For example if I go to an all-in-one store, like Wal-mart or Super Target. I may buy a shirt, groceries, laundry detergent, shampoo, a CD for my brother?s birthday, and paint for my bathroom project. My total comes to $135.28.

My checkbook balance would simply say Target -135.28, and give me my new balance. But when I look back over that it will be hard to tell where exactly that money went. So I need to break it up. Look at the receipt.

So when I get home I will go to my computer and open up my family budget software, like Quiken, and enter $23.99 under clothing, $48.74 food, $13.76 household supplies, $2.37 personal care, $17.99 gift, and $28.43 house repairs.

This gives me a much better picture of where my money goes than a simple checkbook balance.

After a few months is up you will have a reasonable outline of where your money goes. Then you can budget accordingly. Decide how much goes to each category.

Before I started tracking all my money I was oblivious to how much went to frivoulous things, that could have gone to paying down debt. Or simply to something that was more worth my money.

A family budget takes time, which is something we seem to have less and less of, but it is so important to your future that you need to take just a few minutes each day to reach your long term goals.

You will be glad you did, and not just 10 years from now. But right now, as soon as you make a family budget a habit you will see the benefits immediately.

For a specific family budget click here.

"A man in debt is so far a slave,"
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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