Kimberly Steinhoff December 6, 2019 Family Budget
First, you must balance your checkbook. You can either use software, or pen and paper to accomplish this task. Now, if the concept of balancing a checkbook eludes you, just search the internet on how to balance your checkbook. And, as you balance your checkbook, you should pay particular attention to missed transactions, bad math, or any unexpected transactions. I remember that on one occasion I had recorded an unexpected deposit as a withdraw in my checkbook register. So, to my chagrin, my $150.00 deposit became on paper, a $300.00 withdraw.
List your income, how much and when during the month that you receive it. Then, list your recurring expenses - how much, to whom and when during the month that you pay them. Next, ballpark any other expenses you can come up with off the top of your head - things like groceries, gas, etc. and list those too. All of these steps can be done with just you and your spouse, a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. If you want to get a little fancy, a spreadsheet or simple budgeting software can help a lot.
Be open and honest about the family`s financial dilemma and discuss your expectations, goals and visions for the near and distant future. If your children are old enough to understand the concept of money, they can be of great constructive help and will also learn from this exercise. When each family member is involved in the budget project - particularly teens, it saves a great deal of energy when having to make excuses to them of why they ca not buy this or have that. Informing them of what is going on will help to avoid future arguments and any counterproductive actions on their part that could end up making the situation worse.
A budget needs to estimate your average (yearly) income. Spending, which will be relatively constant, needs to be maintained below that amount. A budget should allow for error and so keeping expenses 5% or 10% below the estimated income is a conservative approach. When done correctly, your budget should end any given year with about 5% of their income left over. Of course being conservative and having more than 5% is never a bad idea.