Having a family and juggling finances can be a very difficult task. Groceries, dance lessons, diapers, clothes, babysitters, college fund, and the list goes on and on. When do we save? When do we spend? How do we balance it all? I researched many ideas and all experts agree that although money causes stress to everyone, people of different income brackets can be successful based on how they budget their income. Some financial stress is unavoidable but don't let it get out of hand. Take control of your finances and you will feel balanced in other areas of your life as well. Here's some ideas to help you along.
1. Budget/plan- Mint.com is a great online resource. It is safe and easy. My husband and I have been using it for several months now and it has really helped us see how we are spending our money (our bank account feeds automatically into this program!)
2. Communication- Although you won't agree on everything, agreeing on short and long term goals for the family will help you move forward in a direction you both want. If you have your OWN checking account separate from the bills, you can use this money on whatever YOU want without having to explain how you spend your fun money. Make sure an agreed upon amount is consistantly going into this account. Don't try to tell yourself you aren't going to spend a dime on yourself. This just isn't realistic and isn't healthy. Everyone deserves a treat now and then-just stay within your means!
2. Keep 3 months of living expenses in the bank - Many experts suggest this amount of savings as a way to keep yourself ahead of the game. If you dip into this savings for an unexpected expense, put a halt on spending until you get back on track.
4. Be honest with yourself! Ask yourself what things are needs, what are wants, what are your priorities (short and long term). You can not move forward unless you are totally honest about what you are doing and what you want! Everyone makes mistakes but learn from them and grow that money tree using some plain old self discipline.
5. Keep it SIMPLE! Don't complicate things-keep it simple and focus on the important items (mortgage, utilities, credit card bills, etc.) Attempt to get income that is consistent. If you have a job that does not give a consistent income, request a flat rate or else pursue a job that does have consistent pay.
When you're tempted to buy yourself a treat that is not in your budget, remember that financial security is the best gift you can give yourself (and your children!) Finding a good sale is great but finding a way to avoid the purchase altogether is even better (especially if you just don't have the money to spend!) Having financial security will give you control and a sense of freedom. If you use self discipline and stop yourself from spending when you really wanted something, give yourself a pat on the back and a smile for a job well done!