How do you make a family budget? What are some good places to find information about this?

Type “family budget” into Google, you will find sites such as http://www.familiesonlinemagazine.com/family-budget/2009-family-budget.html. These sites are full of good family budget advice but they tend to assume that you already have the basics in place. If you don’t have a basic family budget here are 6 steps to get you started.

1. Get a calendar with generous writing space for each day, a pencil, an eraser and 2 highlighter pens one green one red.
2. Turn to today’s date in your calendar and write at the top how much cash you have in hand and in your bank account.
3. Go forward to each day in turn and write down how much you expect or know will come in the family budget on that day. Obviously your payday and salary after tax and deductions will be the big amounts.
4. Then look at each day in turn and write down how much you expect or know you will spend on that day. Obviously automatic payments for mortgage and utilities will be the big amounts. But don’t forget to add in the money you spend on your credit cards and how much you pay off your balance each month.
5. Do the math. On any given day you can have up to 4 figures on your calendar budget. Top figure is your cash figure (including bank balance) brought forward from yesterday. Second figure down is any income due that day. Third figure down is any spending that day. Add the top 2 figures, subtract the third figure and write the new cash figure at the bottom of the column. Carry this figure forward to the next day.
6. Do this for the next 12 months. Remember to include any quarterly, six monthly or annual payments or income. Where you don’t know the exact figures use your best estimate.

If you struggle to keep your spending within your income then now is the time to look again at every expense. Ask yourself; ‘did I use too low an estimate when I budgeted for utility expenses’? If you found it hard to budget because these bills vary from month to month, now is a good time to think about a budget payment plan. With this you pay a set amount each month. Some months you pay for more than your usage, but over a year things will balance out while you have better control over your budget.


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