5 Simple Tips For Managing The F – word…..Finances!

family budget

Welcome to Day Four of “New Year, New You” Week! Just one more to go! Today we are focusing on the 4th most common New Year’s Resolution….Budgeting…or taking control of your FINANCES. Since this is, unfortunately, not one of my strong suits, I decided to turn to my friend Jordan Page at Fun, Cheap or Free for some tried-and-true tips on creating a family budget.

I really appreciate Jordan’s no-nonsense approach to this subject and how she “walks the walk” and “talks the talk.” I think you will agree.

Be sure and check out how to win tickets to her extremely popular Frugality Bootcamp coming up next month!  Take it away Jordan………….

 

family budget

 

Well, it’s the 2nd week of January. Has anyone besides me completely tanked on one or more of your New Year’s Resolutions?? The good news is, this is common so you’re not alone. The bad news is, this is common so you’re not alone!

For most of us, at least one resolution encompasses one of the most difficult aspects of our life – finances (ew, that F-word!). Today I’m here to share 5 simple tips that will, if you take them to heart, GUARANTEE financial success for you in 2014! (And will make it simpler than ever).

 

5 Simple Tips for Managing Your Money:

 

family budget

 

1. Out with the “Budget”, in with the “Spending Strategy”

A budget, for many, implies doing without and never being able to enjoy yourself. But a “spending strategy,” on the other hand, embraces the fact that you’re going to spend; it just helps you spend SMARTER. A spending strategy shouldn’t make you miserable….it should get you excited, because it’ll move you closer and closer to what’s truly important to you—living debt free and having money for what matters most.

 

 

family budget

2. Don’t work together.

Ok well, work together, but don’t work on the same thing. Let me explain better…

Picture a successful company. There aren’t two CFO’s…or two VP’s of marketing…or two Director of Ops. Sure, they all work together toward the same common goal, but ultimately, they have their own responsibilities that they handle solo so no one’s stepping on each others’ toes. Why should it be any different in your family??

Sit down and make a list of everything you spend money on…and divide it up! Don’t stop until every item has an “owner”. If both of you go grocery shopping randomly, you’ll end up paying too much. If you both randomly pay the bills, you will probably miss a payment assuming the other person took care of it. Divide and conquer!

In my family I am at home with the kids during the day, my husband works in the office all day. Here are examples of the spending duties we divided up based on our personal skills and daily environment:

Me: Groceries/meals/meal planning, kid activities (memberships, day-passes), clothes, school fees, medical bills and choosing doctors (since I’m the one driving them to their activities), general home needs (but not home repairs), paying and picking the babysitters… to name a few.

Him: Car maintenance/checkups/repairs, paying all utilities/bills/loans (except medical bills), date nights, his own haircuts, paying off the credit cards, home repair needs… to name a few.

This can be daunting, but the Fun Cheap Or Free team can help. Join us at our 3rd annual Frugality Boot Camp on January 18th (or online at your own pace if you’re not in Utah) to learn everything you need to know about simple budgeting, frugal living, and yes, working with your spouse on these nasty finances!

 

 

family budget

3. Focus on THREE budgets only.

Another great mistake I see people make is to have a dog grooming budget. Hair budget. Decor budget. Pampering budget. Eating out budget. Yadda yadda budget…so confusing! I propose consolidating it down to 3 budgets only:

  • Grocery – Anything you could buy at a typical grocery store (food, pharmacy items, basic baby needs, pet food, basic beauty/toiletry items…). This should be $100 per person in your family, per month…then divide it weekly, remember? :)
  • “Other” – Any other non-grocery items that you regularly spend money on (eating out, hair cuts, clothing, date nights, new cleats, car washes, dog grooming…). Divide up your non-bill, non-grocery expenses for the last 3 months and find the average to get a good start on what this budget should be.

I explain this in great detail in THIS POST.

As mentioned above, my husband doesn’t worry about the grocery budget. However, we both have our own “other” budget each week. This not only covers our “other” duties, but also gives us some wiggle room for personal fun money. I can grab lunch with the girls, he can do a round of golf…as long as it fits within our “other” budget for that week (encourages frugality!)

So what about gasoline and bills? Those are very hard to budget for, because it is what it is. Cut back where you can, but things that AREN’T included in our weekly budgets are called “Family” items:

  • Family – Bills, utilities, emergencies – gasoline, power/gas/water, mortgage, loans, car/home repairs, medical costs. Set as much on auto pay as you can to make sure these bills are paid on time.

 

 

family budget

4. Break it down weekly – not monthly.

Many of us say, “Ok I will have $500 per month to spend and that’s it!”. The 1st of the month rolls around, you get a wad of $100 bills and next thing you know, it’s gone before tuesday. Pace yourself. Take your monthly budget, then divide it by how many weeks there are in that month…and now you have a WEEKLY budget! Trust me, it’s way easier to manage, and much easier to follow.

I follow the US calendar and consider my month as the first majority week of that month, Sunday to Sunday. February 2014 for example, the first week would be Feb 2 – 8 and there would be 4 weeks in that month. April 2014, the first week would be March 30 – April 5, and there would be 5 weeks in the month.

For good budget guideline amounts and how to easily break it up and track it weekly, see The simplest budgeting technique ever.

 

 

family budget

5. Don’t push yourself too hard.

Wait, whaaaa? Shocked you with this one, didn’t I? The biggest mistake I see people making is to shoot past the moon and aim for Mars! Guys, Mars is really far away and hard to get to…that’s why no one’s done it yet. When setting budgets push yourself past your comfort zone, but be realistic! The goal is to SUCCEED! If you fail within the first week you’ll throw in the towel, say “I’m bad at this budgeting stuff!” and never try again. Baby steps! Cut back a little this month. Then a little more the next. Then more the next. It takes time, like exercising a new muscle.

 

 

frugality bootcamp

Frugality Boot Camp Ticket Giveaway!

Now, if any of you seem overwhelmed by all of this budget talk…have no fear! Our 3rd annual Frugality Boot Camp is coming up on January 18th in South Jordan, UT. (For those outside of Utah we will have Virtual tickets which gives access to all lectures, classes, and handouts this year!)

Frugality Boot Camp is a full-day conference where you come and learn everything you could ever possibly want to know about budgeting, talking with your spouse about finances, frugal fashion, meal planning, kids and finances, and much much more! (And we feed you lunch so really, it’s awesome.)

Enter to win TWO free in-person OR virtual tickets! Enter online HERE or click the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Be sure to also follow along with Jordan’s Focused in ’14 Monthly challenges! Another way to make sure your family stays on track not just THIS MONTH, but all year long!

 

jordan page

Jordan Page – Fun Cheap or Free

 

 


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Comments

  1. says

    I really like the tip for splitting up the spending duties. It seems that those delegations are usually done with out conscious intentionality and that’s a talk my husband and I should have. I know it seems obvious, but sometimes you get so caught up in minutiae that you forget to even say who does what! Thanks!

  2. Qusie says

    While I appreciate the tips and believe a lot of these are great and helpful, I find it hard that every time I see budget advice, the writer assumes all families have two spouses and kids. I’m a single mom, and it’s ALL on me. And there is no way where I live $500 a month would feed my four teenagers and me, especially if you include school lunch, and if you add in shampoo, deodorant, etc., it’s almost laughable. I shop only sales, special deals and do all the frugal stuff, but it still takes at least $800 on a good month (no special occasions or eating out because Mom has worked so much OT, she hasn’t had time to go shopping in two weeks). Otherwise, good advice.

  3. CTY says

    A couple of questions for you.. You suggest dividing the money into weekly categories–do you also recommend that for people who get paid bi-weekly?
    Does your class cover investments at all. I am looking for solid information that describes the types of investments out there, pros and cons of each, fees (and taxes) involved. Now that I finally have a little to invest I don’t know how to choose.

  4. Dawn Shumpert says

    I agree with Quisie! I live in Atlanta, and it’s just my fiance and me, and our weekly grocery budget is $80 ($30 more than what it should be according to this post). That $80 does include toiletries, paper products, etc. like she suggests. Keep in mind that I am somewhat of a budding “extreme couponer” and get most of our toiletries for less than a dollar, but still spend anywhere from $60 to $80 a week. Lets face it…there are no coupons for meat and produce, and it’s getting really hard to find good deals on toilet tissue and trash bags. I make my own laundry detergent (about $25 for a year supply), and have mostly gotten away from paper towels and plates. Yes, I could spend a little less if I took the time to shop at 5-6 different stores every Sunday, but I keep it down to 3 to save time (and gas) because we both work full-time. I wish more “frugal” bloggers would spend more time on showing you specifics to cutting back and eliminating unnecessary grocery items rather than simply telling you to sticking to a certain dollar amount every week because groceries are not one size fits all for every family and situation.

  5. says

    Yes!! I totally agree. Better spending habits are always overshadowed by how much there is to spend. I see so many people stuck in a budgeting rut because they allot a certain amount of money without learning how to reduce spending in certain categories, which can be a really depressing life. In this way, I disagree with the major budget categories. Learning better spending habits involves paying close attention to where it’s going. Giving money a job is really important, and seeing exactly where you need to cut back can be REALLY helpful. Not everyone has that huge buffer to dip into when they overspend, and micromanaging finances is the first step in gaining control.

    A few months ago I bought YNAB when it was on sale and it has changed my life. While I wouldn’t really recommend paying full price for it (it’s basically a glorified spreadsheet that’s very user friendly), there is a 34-day free trial, which I used to the fullest extent before I bought it. Their tips and ten day email “class” were extremely helpful, and there are loads of helpful suggestions on the website. From what I saw they don’t cover better spending habits very well, which is unfortunate, but the program itself is an excellent tool for seeing where the improvement needs to happen and how it affects the big picture.

  6. says

    Lots of good tips. My husband and I Facilitate a class called,”Financial Peace University,” and it has helped us eliminate all of our debt, all $80,000 + of it! Good news is, it’s available nation wide to take. I don’t get paid to advertise or anything but http://www.daveramsey.com is where you can start if you want to get your finances in order.

  7. Jessica says

    Great blog! It took me on a whirlwind trip from Fun Cheap or Free to Deals to Meals and many more useful sites and helped me find amazing grocers in my area I didn’t even know I had (and I’ve lived here all my life!) Thank you both for the great insight and tips – super helpful! Can’t wait to start meal planning and create a Spending Strategy of my own!

    Jessica

  8. MAH says

    I was wondering about the whole $100 per person thing also. I have an extremely hard time in my family of 5 without spending at least $800 a month or more on groceries, medicines, toiletries etc..

    Can you give us examples of spending? I’d love to know.

    Thanks!

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