A family budget is a perfect tool to get everyone on the same page with their finances. When the budget is designed correctly, you know how much money comes in and where you spend it. In addition, you likely have some financially big goals as a family, such as paying for college for your kids, planning for retirement, and going on a big vacation.
A family budget template helps everyone work as a team to reach these essential goals.
It can be a little more complex than an individual budget because you need to factor in the wants and needs of more than one person. Both partners in the relationship need to agree on decisions for their finances. And they need to budget for the added expenses of having children. A family budget template can help bring together everyone in the family to stretch the money.
What is a Family Budget?
A family budget is a tool that allows a family to plan how they will responsibly use their household income over a week, a month, or several months. Most families will set up a monthly budget that they plan to use for a year or more. The family can use different budgeting methods, including setting aside a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the monthly income for each expense.
Too many families spend their money without any intention. When they get to the end of the month, they wonder where the money is and feel like they live paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much they make. When they set up a budget, they add more intention to their spending, which helps them to reach some serious financial goals.
The main goal of setting up a family budget is to help your family live within or below your income. This will make it easier to live a happy life without being stressed out. A family budget can even help you reach goals like retirement or a big vacation without making more money.
Some of the things that need to happen before setting up your budget include:
Bring both partners together
For a family budget to work, all of the family members need to know and agree on how the budget is structured. This process will not work if only one person tries to do all the work and the other continues to spend their money. It is time for the partners to come together and have a serious discussion about the importance of budgeting and how to get it done.
This is a give-and-take process. You do not need to completely cut everything out to make a budget because you have the freedom to make it work for you. If someone likes to have nice shoes, decide on a set amount they can use for that instead of cutting it out completely. The same can be done for entertainment or any other splurges you want to have. You do not need to cut it all out; you need a plan for it.
Set financial goals
Your budget can succeed or fail, and this will depend on whether you set it up well to match your financial goals. So you and your partner need to sit down and figure out what your financial goals are all about before you get started and then align the budget with the financial goals.
Decide what is the most important for your household. Each family will have different goals for the money. You may want to plan together to reach an early retirement or save up for a big vacation. Setting financial goals together allows the family to follow the proper steps to reach those goals. To determine your financial goals before you start working on the budget.
Evaluate your current situation
Your family budget will not be successful if you do not evaluate it carefully. It would be best to organize your expenses to help you figure out where you spend the most money and make sure you do not go over budget. Some families like to have broad categories, such as entertainment and grocery budgets, while others want to list everything step by step. You can choose the best way to organize your finances to help you track your income and spending.
Once you have a better idea of the amount you spend in every category, consider which expenses are fixed and which ones may change through the year. Next, look into which ones are discretionary or the expenses you could cut out if your income dips down or you need to pay more off your debt.
How to Create a Family Budget?
A family budget is a suitable tool to help you get on track and make sure that you see excellent results with your own money. Without a good overall picture of what is coming into and going out of the bank account, it is easy to spend too much and rely on debit and credit cards to make it through.
Some of the steps that you can use to help create your family budget include:
List your income from all sources
The first step to any budget is to figure out the exact income you bring in every month. Next, add all of your reliable sources of income, including wages from your job, any side income that you earn, alimony, and child support. If you do not get the income regularly, do not count it here. Instead, you want to create a budget on the money you can rely on.
List your expenses into categories
Once you know your reliable income, it is time to add up all your expenses. First, list out all of your fixed expenses, including mortgage and rent, utilities, and daycare costs, with the total amount of the expense. Then add in the variable expenses. If the expense changes from one month to another, look at your bank and credit card statements and average how much they have cost over the past year. You can also find the highest amount and family budget based on that.
Calculate your net income
To figure out your net income, you will need to take your income and subtract your monthly bills. Once all of your spending is accounted for, the amount left will be the net income. For some families, this amount will be negative, meaning they will spend more than they earn. Therefore, they must find ways to increase their income or decrease their spending to make this number positive or at zero. Consider adding that money to a savings or retirement account for families who have a positive net income at the end of the month.
Adjust your budget
We all hope to look at the net income and end up with a positive number. But, unfortunately, your net income may. If this sounds like you, it is time to change your spending. First, divide your expenses by wants and needs and then cut down the wants. Of course, you do not need to get rid of everything, but if you spend hundreds on clothes each month or eat out five times a week, there are ways to cut back and save your budget. Then, come up with a budget that covers all of your necessary bills, has room for savings and some fun, and allows you to still enjoy life as a family.
Review the budget each month
Once the family budget is in place, it is time to track your spending. Each month come back and check how you did with following that budget. If you overspend in one category, find out if you can do better the next month. If you continue to overspend in that same category, it may be time to make some adjustments because the budgeted amount could be too small. Analyze whether the plan is working or if you need to make some changes.
Family Budget Templates
Tracking your income and spending is best to avoid overspending and going into debt rather than reaching your financial goals. A family budget template can make tracking your income and expenses as a family easier. Our website offers a free downloadable family budget template to help you track your budget every month and helps you reach your financial goals.
Tips for Family Budgeting
Planning a family budget can take a little time. You have to plan the family budget between two income earners and remember everything that can come up with the kids, pets, and more. Some of the tips that you can follow to make a family budget template easier include:
Take a look at all of the expenses you have written down and see where you can make some cuts. You do not need to get rid of everything. But the more you remove, the further your money can go each month and the better you will do with your financial goals. Maybe you decide to go to the library for books and games rather than ordering online. You could cut down from eating out four times a week to one and make food at home. Watch an old movie at home rather than spend it at the movie theater. You can decide how to trim off the expenses.
As you create a new budget, you need to remember the savings. The amount that you save will depend on your current finances. Some decide to work on paying off more debt rather than serious savings goals but putting even a tiny amount into retirement, or a rainy-day fund can help keep you out of debt too. Look at your finances, see what you can put into savings, and change the number as your finances change.
Get out of debt
Debt is holding you back. The more you owe on the credit card, student loans, and car payments, the less money you have to work on some of your financial goals. Set up a plan in your budget to help you pay not just the minimum amount on the debt each month but extra to speed things up. You can do some math to see how much extra you can afford and then hit those debts with a vengeance. When you are successful, you can use all that extra money on other items in your budget and for more fun.
Lower your taxes
Taxes can also eat up a good portion of your income. Rather than letting the tax bill take over your budget, it is better to find ways to make it lower. Families can qualify for many tax breaks, including putting money back into a college fund for the kids, utilizing their traditional 401(k), and having a health insurance plan with a high deductible. If you are not sure of all the tax deductions and credits you qualify for, talk with a tax professional to help you keep as much money in your pockets as possible.
Control spending on food
Food is a significant expense in your family budget that you need to control. While you need to eat each month, you can cut down on some costs. This is done by limiting how often you eat out and starting a meal plan. Eating out can cost $40 or more for fast food and is only for one meal. Making a good meal plan and sticking to it can keep some of the costs of your food bill at a minimum.
Plan for emergencies and travel
Financial emergencies can happen. You may have a large medical bill, something will go wrong with the car, or your home needs a significant repair. Ensure an emergency fund in your budget, so you do not need to go into debt for the emergency. Traveling can be a great way to work on memories with your kids and be fun. Set aside another savings account in your family budget to help pay for travel costs.
Keep frequently adjusting
Your family budget can change as time goes on. Your kids will get older and may have different needs. Instead of paying as much in diapers, you may need to start a fund for sports and activities when they get a little older. You can adjust your family budget; do it wisely. Think about how the needs of your family change as time goes on, and then make intelligent adjustments to keep you on track.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you budget money using the 50/20/30 rule?
One budgeting method that you can use is the 50/30/20 budgeting rule. This simple method tells you how to split your budget by percentages, making it effective regardless of the amount you earn.
The goal is to spend 50% of your income on your needs, like your food, housing, utilities, and other steady expenses. 30% of your income will go to your wants, and the last 20% will go to your financial goals, including paying off debt, savings accounts, and retirement.
How do you live on a budget?
To survive on a budget, you must track your income and spending and then compare those numbers to the different categories you have in your budget. The more often you go through this process, the better you can do with the budget. This is especially important when you first put yourself on a budget. You will get better at the work as time goes on and predict the amount you spend, and you can stay on budget without as much work.
How to use a budget tracking system?
Without a system in place, you will find it almost impossible to stick to your budget. Setting up a budget tracking system can make this easier. There are different options, including an Excel spreadsheet, an account like Mint, or an app like Mvelopes.
The goal is to find the tracking system that makes the most sense for you and then stick to it. By tracking your income and spending and seeing whether you stick with the budget, you will be able to put your money to work for you.