Creating a Family Budget that Works

3rd July 2018

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Money is a problem for many families today. The economy is forever changing, things that we could afford last year are suddenly crazily expensive. Our energy bills and the cost of fuel for our cars fluctuate massively, and many of us are finding it increasingly hard to manage our money. It’s a common enough problem, and many families today are struggling with debts or finding themselves in financial uncertainty.

One of the easiest ways to manage our money and ease our financial woes is making a family budget. Yet, so few of us do. The idea of sitting down and writing a budget can be overwhelming, and many of us fail to see how the simple act of writing everything down can make a difference. But, if you do it well, and take some time to look at all of the details of your earnings and expenditure, you might find that a budget helps you to understand and control your finances. Ensuring that you are able to pay your bills each month and even giving you room to save. Here’s a look at how to create a family budget that will work.

Do Your Research

The first thing that you need to do is sit down and work out where all of your money is going. Do you have a debt to pay? Are you paying back a student loan? How much do you spend on food each week? How often do you eat out? This is much easier to do now that we so rarely withdraw cash. Now so many purchases are made on a card, all you need to do is look at your bank statements to get a clear view of where your money goes.

Keep it Simple

There are countless apps, programs and websites out there offering to set up budgets for you and giving you access to budgeting tools. But this is usually at an expense and isn’t often worth it. Instead, keep things simple. If you are proficient in excel, simple might mean setting up a basic ins and outs spreadsheet. If you are not, there’s nothing wrong with using a pen and paper. Look at some easy templates at

Include Everything

Nothing is too small to be added to your budget. If you’ve spent money on something, add it. You might want to add subcategories to your budget, for “luxuries” or “treats”, which is fine, as long as you include everything that you spend.

Set a Goal

We tend to be much better at saving if it’s for something. So, give yourself a clear goal. This can be to pay off debts, pay for a holiday, renovate your home or just to have more set aside for Christmas. Have an ultimate goal, break it down into weeks and include it in your spreadsheet.

Add a Buffer

Even if you looked at your bank statements for the last ten years, you couldn’t come up with an exact amount you need in the coming months. You never know what might happen and what you might need to spend. Allow a buffer to make sure any unexpected spends are covered.

Be Realistic

If you want your budget to work, you need to be realistic. It’s like a diet. Set yourself a goal of losing a stone in 2 weeks, you’ll fail, feel bad and eat more. Or, you’ll manage it only to put it all back on in the coming months. Try to lose a pound a week, and you’re much more likely to succeed. Make sure you are realistic in all areas of your budget, and it’ll be easier to manage.

Photo Credit: Emma Matthews STIL

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