The pain-free family budget - and how to stick to it!
We all know we need one, but if you dread having to live by a budget, forget the idea that it's all about what you can't have. It's a way of planning what you can have. Stick to some rules, give yourself space and you'll see family finances aren't that hard to handle.
Grandma was on to something: Take care of the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves. But you don't need to adopt a Depression-era attitude to keep your family funds under control. These tips will keep you on the financial straight and narrow without feeling deprived.
Make it easy: Use a budget calculator or budgeting app to do all the number crunching for you. Start by breaking down your spending into categories: Household, Food, Transport, Entertainment, Personal and Savings. Our estimated expenses are often quite different to the reality, so be detailed. You might be surprised to learn how much your twice-a-day latte adds up to.
Money: Set aside some cash you can spend each week, no questions asked. Make it enough so you can stay sane with the occasional indulgence, but not so much that you defeat the point of budgeting at all. Make sure you and your partner get an equal amount.
Savings are sacrosanct: Even if it's only $50 a week, make savings a non-negotiable part of your budget. Funnel your savings into a high interest savings account so your cash can't be dipped into easily. Compare high interest savings accounts here.
Follow some rules: It's time to snap out of recreational shopping, as this only leads to unnecessary purchases. When it comes to groceries, only shop when you need to and stick to a list. And never shop when hungry, otherwise you'll stock up on snacks you wouldn't usually consider.
Give yourself a cooling off period: Rule out impulse buys - if you spot something you want to buy, walk away and think about it for a week. If you decide you still have to have it, put it on lay-by if you don't have the cash available, or search online to see if you can get it for a better deal.
Consider a debit card: Get into the habit of only spending money you have '- a debit card will still allow you to pay all your bills online, but knowing your expenses are limited to what you have coming in each month will help you keep within your budget. Compare providers of debit cards here.