• None of us want to remain or be without money, short on cash, cash-strapped and not able to live well and/or get the things we need, dream about and want. Family budgeting brings us one-step closer to our financial realities, while offering more than the direction and route, but also the tools and techniques to get to financial paradise!

    • Most of us have an inherent want to protect what is rightfully ours. Our hard-earned cash is no exception here. We want to enable, as far as it is in our power, to utilise what little (or much) we do have to the best advantage and our family benefit overall. Family budgeting helps us do so with method, structure, elements and processes enable success.

    • Family budgeting can assist everyone and help make better financial decisions with a future perspective always in mind.

    • Building greater awareness of where our money actually goes, or ends up, can be enlightening and empowering at the same time. Some react with shock and horror, as they realise they are their own worst enemy. They bear witness to impulse-driven shopping and periods with no fiscal discipline. Realising that this course of action hurt you and your family in the long run, puts a sudden halt on the money flowing out typically! (even if the effect does not last too long!)

    • Although family budgeting can be overwhelming at first, the tools and techniques, process and steps to follow are fairly simple, straightforward and easy. Like so often said, it is not rocket science! We just need to have the right attitude, motivation and persistence to see and follow things through. Budget or bust!

    • Family budgeting can help you get, be and remain in control of your money and family’s financial situation.

    • Set aside time to work on your household financials and budgeting on a regular basis. Keep it up to date and accurate. This way you can spot problems early, react quickly and come up with creative solutions in the short-term to address any issues, challenges or shortfalls.

    • Family budgeting helps you know your own financial facts. You will be able to know, instinctively and exactly what is going on with your cash-balance without even looking at your statement necessarily! A good test to tell whether someone is using a family budget for their household is to have them write down the exact amount they have in the bank today, and as of now also on their person, in their wallet. Add the two and write down the total right now.

What did you learn from this exercise? Let us take it one-step further. What do you owe? Include credit cards, car financing, mortgage and other debt. Subtract what you owe from what you have. Have you learnt anything by doing this simple exercise? For most of us the answers would be astonishing! This hands-on involvement and knowledge about your finances helps some and not others. For some of us just glancing at our statement now and again,…  having no idea as to what is in our wallets, is quite all-right too. (That is, as long as you are not finding ways to spend it without realizing it!)

    • In family budgeting, do not hesitate to set high goals too. Whether you get there by cost cutting, taking a second, part-time or seasonal job or find another source of supplemental income, it helps you raise the bar even higher.

    • Family budgeting is not just about budgeting to the last cent and flying by the seat of your pants. It offers structure, wisdom, decision making and reward for the serious and tenacious amongst us. Taking it on as a major and regular task and priority will change your quality of life, sometimes without you even realising it.

    • You are in it for the long haul! Take responsibility for spending. If this means laying down some ground-rules in your household and cutting back on a couple of luxury items, that needs to be discussed, agreed upon and stuck to, to make your budget work and have an impact over time.

    • Family budgeting is about minimizing and totally avoiding if possible any unexpected and deemed unnecessary spending. Spell out the realities and consequences of these purchases to others — short on cash, family tension, unnecessary stress and complications, hardship and more. Openly discussing it builds fiscal responsibilities on all fronts. This does not mean rigidity or inflexibility. Need, merit, means and circumstance will obviously dictate.

    • Family budgeting is also about shared responsibility. All members can participate — even the kids. Taking responsibility for the grocery bill for example. Setting house-rules about who gets to pay for what and when is also important when you have young adults still living in the house or have boarders. Family budgeting allows the channel for discussion and eventually mutual agreement on financial goals and priorities.

    • Perhaps the most important part of all, is that family budgeting helps us all learn where the money actually goes, as opposed to where we think it does or should go. Normally very different things! The initial realisation of the amounts (usually larger than we think!), involved on incidental, discretionary and impulse buying is an eye-opener for most and ends up saving families all kinds of money they never knew they had. Just brining that into the awareness and our conscious mind tends to put a stop to unnecessary expenditure.

    • Beware the flyers, advertisements, special discounted sales and other retail or sales tricks of the trade that tempt, entice and lure you in to spend.

    • Keep on tracking spending and income no matter what. A good tip for family budgeting is, at least initially, get a notebook and a pen and write things down as opposed to going to high-tech, spending money to get it done etc. Avoid this being or becoming just another unexpected and unplanned expense! It is supposed to help you, not hurt you. Tools are great, but process and results are better.

    • Family budgeting help you focus on the different types of expense you and your family and household face. The annual ones are the hardest, we tend to put them on the back burner and they tend to be larger amounts too. Including them in your budget assists failing to include major expenses like school fees, gym memberships, Christmas and birthday gifts, babysitting or more.

    • Financial restraint, wise decisions, weighing options, informed choice and goals, all work together in the family budget, to get you back on track and on the road to enjoying your dollar-earnings.

    • Initially, when setting up your family budget probably for the first time, it is acceptable when estimating some of the expenditures and cost to err on the higher side. This will definitely show you where you would need to cut back if you had to add in budget line items or budget for big purchases like appliances, furniture, vehicles etc.

    • Family budgets keep it real, in the moment and us humble, on our toes and accountable.

    • Some realities we will have to live with. Some fixed costs we are not able to reduce right away or at all. The fact of the matter is, we are on the look-out and actively finding other and…  innovative ways to cut spending and costs that we would otherwise not have been motivated enough to do of our own accord.

    • Surely, the most interesting effect of the family budget on most people, is revealing our personal spending habits. Family budgeting helps us to get to know what they are and improve on them.

Where and why, on what and how much are all factors that impact while our money keeps vanishing. We are most often the biggest culprits here. Shopping excursions should be minimized; they are just a good excuse for buying unnecessary items.

Overspending while with a group of friends or peers are all too common these days. Grocery bills hide a lot of ”sins” or impulse buying (chocolates, chips, magazines, ice cream etc.).

Also knowing when, during the year you tend to spend more money, is also important — bulk buying might be the answer. Think juice and snacks when the kids are home for summer for example. This also helps people realize that funds should be available almost year-round and that life is unpredictable.

    • Family budgeting is one of those activities that none of us really truly value, until we see or feel it make a difference. If you stick with it long enough and are disciplined and committed, you will experience the dynamic impact and life-altering influence and contribution of this tool and process. Happy number crunching! Have fun creating your own family budget.

Some final thoughts, money saving perspectives and inspirations:

"If saving money is wrong, I don't want to be right!" William Shatner

"A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some." Joe Moore