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Planning a family budget is, undoubtedly, beneficial. With a plan in place, it is much easier to manage family finances and save money for future endeavors. Frugal family budgeting will get everyone on the same page and geared toward the same goals.
While budgeting for a family is easy in theory, it can be much more difficult in practice. To help, I am sharing my tips for how to create a family budget and offering a few ideas for family frugal living, too.
Family Finances: Budget for Family
When I was single and living on my own, creating my personal budget (and sticking to it!) was pretty straightforward. I was the one solely responsible for my money; I decided what was spent and what was saved.
Then I got married. Combining households, we struggled as we learned how to prepare a family budget. It was just the two of us, but it was evident that we would both have to make some adjustments to how we had been handling finances on our own.
While the basics of personal and family finances are the same at their core, it is much more complicated to learn how to budget for a family…because it is not just about you anymore. And, that fact – that there are two or more people operating funds – highlights the absolute importance of a family budget. Read more about what worked for me (and what didn’t) in my dedicated article: How to get your Spouse to be Frugal.
Budgeting for Families, Couples and Roommates
Discussing and planning finances is not just limited to families. Any group of co-habiting people – including couples, friends and roommates – should learn how to prepare a ‘family budget.’
Operating a household without discussing household finances can result in frustrations and fights. Of course, once you create your household budget with any non-family roomies, you will also want to create a personal budget to define your own money goals.
5 Tips for Planning a Family Budget
Managing a family budget takes work and practice. My tips on how to plan a family budget will help you get started and help you succeed.
#1 Set Goals and Budget as a Family
The first step in how to make a family budget is to get everyone on board with family money goals and creating a budget. Sit down – as a family – and talk about your financial goals and what it will take to achieve them. Managing family finances is a lot easier if everyone in the family has a common goal in sight.
Maybe you are saving for a family vacation or planning ahead for Christmas – or perhaps you have to batten down the hatches due to a job loss. Whatever situation has inspired you to prepare a family budget, you need to get everyone on board.
How To Prepare Family Budget with Young Kids
If you have young children, you will need to determine how specific and detailed you want to be with them – and what role they will play in starting a family budget plan.
You don’t want to overwhelm or make children worry about money matters. That said, kids should be involved in the family financial budget in some aspect. It doesn’t benefit anyone to exclude kids from setting goals and building a family budget.
#2 Commit to Budgeting Family Finances
The best advice for how to put your family on a budget is to get everyone committed to budgeting. A monthly budget can aid in family money management and it might also highlight any potential money problems. A family budget allows you to clearly see where you spend money and how much you save.
A budget for family should be created on a monthly basis, with every member of the family taking part. The family budget plan needs to be specific and it needs to be written down.
To create a monthly budget for your family, lay out everyone’s wants vs. needs and come up with a viable spending plan that will help you reach your goals.
If one of your goals is to save money, start with an emergency fund (if you don’t already have one!). Then, consider setting up a sinking fund in a separate bank account and dictate the amount to be saved in your monthly budget.
Use the detailed information in my blog post, How To Create a Budget to get started on your frugal family budget.
Tips for Preparing Family Budget
Before you jump into how to make a family budget for a month, there are a few things you will want to think about.
What is the Purpose of a Family Budget?
Prior to putting your family on a budget, you need to really define your purpose and goals. Do you want to adopt a more frugal family living lifestyle – or are you aiming toward one very specific goal – like becoming debt free?
What Kind of Family Budget?
When determining how to do a family budget, consider the different types of family budgets and which will work best for your family and situation. The most popular types of budgets for managing money are Zero Sum budget and the 50/30/20 budget.
How Will you Fund your Family Budget?
Whether you have a joint account or separate bank accounts, share a credit card or each have your own credit cards, make more money than your spouse or less, you need to come to an agreement on how to spend money.
This can be the tricky part of organizing a budget as a family. It is important to have open communication and mutual respect when it comes to managing family finances.
Who Will Be In Charge of Family Budget Management?
While everyone should be involved in the process of planning a family budget, one adult should take on the task of organizing family finances.
Assigning the task of maintaining the monthly family budget to one person will eliminate things getting lost in the shuffle. Just bear in mind that the person responsible for preparation of family budget serves the purpose of coordinator, not ruler.
To help get you started with your family finances budget management, you can use my tips for organizing finances!
How to Prepare Family Budget for a Month?
A budget for family needs to include all income and expenditures for the entire family – even if couples handle their money separately and exclude the specific details from children. A family household budget won’t work if you don’t include all the money earned and spent.
That said, learning how to budget family finances is not as difficult as it sounds. To help you get started, use my budget template – which I send to you for FREE when you subscribe to Positively Frugal.
#3 Budgeting Family Finances: Cuts, Choices and Conversations
When developing a family budget, it is important to have open conversations about cutting expenses and making difficult financial choices. These discussions will ensure that everyone who was on board with the goal setting, stays on board with putting the family monthly budget into practice.
Budget plans for families are much more likely to succeed if all family members understand and acknowledge the expense cuts and financial choices being made.
Planning Family Budget that Works
Want a tip on how to crate a family budget that works? Make budget planning for family positive, not negative.
Instead of saying ‘no’ to spending money, offer economical choices and get creative. Seek out free activities, cheap exercise options and budget rewards. Rather than deprivation, highlight the merits of a family budget (like reaching your goal!).
When you shift to a positive mindset and encourage optimism in your family budget planning and you will be much more likely to succeed.
#4 Revisit Your Budget Plan for Family Regularly
The preparation of a family budget is not a one-and-done process. Creating a family budget requires effort and evaluation.
It is important to set a recurring family appointment to review your budget. When you first get started with how to manage your family finances, it is best to review your budget often – at least weekly, but perhaps even bi-weekly to make sure you are staying on track.
Regular budget meetings can also help keep up the momentum and enthusiasm required to reach your goals – so make sure that everyone is involved in the family budget meetings.
#5 Make Your Family Monthly Budget Plan Fun
Let’s face it, preparing a family budget is not the most exciting thing to do. Learning how to manage family finances can be stressful and aggravating. You can counterbalance those emotions by making frugal budgeting fun.
Curious how to budget money for family while still having fun? I happen to have a few ideas on how to manage a family budget and have fun!
Creating challenges is a fun way to commit to saving money as a family – because no one wants to lose. You can make up your own challenges – or join a fun one, like my $5 Food Challenge.
Budgeting might be a bore, but games are always fun! Some of the best budget advice for families is to create games where saving money wins. I share tips in my blog post, Money Saving Games.
Make a Family Vision Board
Simple goal charts can be fun for everyone in the family! You can create your own money saving charts or find printables online – like my bundle of affordable Savings Trackers.
I find positive affirmations about money reinforces my determination and helps propel me in an optimistic direction. Use all my top tips from my complete guide to Positive Affirmations for Money!
Frugal Family Tips
Now that you have a better grasp on how to organize family finances, I have a few tips on how to become a certified thrifty family.
Food, Family and Finances
Anyone analyzing family finances will see that food is a big expense. Therefore, one of the best and easiest ways to lower family costs is to spend less on food. The good news is that there are numerous ways to save money on food (including creative couponing) and still eat well.
Adapting to how to live frugally with a family can be uncomfortable and difficult – but you can make the transition to a frugal family life easier by staying organized. In fact, organization is key to living a more frugal life.
A great way to stay organized is with a Printable Family Budget Planner. My Complete Budget Kit includes 18 printables that will help you stay on top of your budget and on track with savings and expenses.
Interested in more of my Budget and Goal Tips? I round them all up on the Budget blog page!
We Want To Know: Is your frugal family on a budget? How do you manage your family finances? Do you have any tips for how to make family budget? Share your advice in the comments below!