A Family That Budgets Together, Grows Together

Back in the day, it was pretty uncommon for children or even the spouse who wasn't bringing in any income to be apart of the household's budgeting. With most homes having both parents working, it is highly encouraged that budgeting is a part of your routine. Do what works best for you and your family based on the increments of paychecks received. If you get paid bi-weekly, then sitting down every two weeks with your spouse or significant other is smart. Some people get paid weekly and others monthly.

You Are Both In This Together

First, what needs to be understood is that you both are in this together. I've noticed a lot of dual-income partners do not share their finances. I often hear, "that's my money. I earned it". That is not the right mentality to have when it comes to growing as a family together. If you are trying to raise a family together, buy a house together and pay for your kids through college together (which all cost money), why would you not budget and share your finances together. Sit down and share. Trust each other. There may be some revealing factors that you will have to adjust but allow your partner to decide with you. This is the MOST critical part of a family growing together because everything we do cost money. You or your spouse may be counteracting against the family goals.

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Trim the Fat

As you write everything out or type it out in an excel spreadsheet of all your bills, expenses, loans, subscriptions, etc., start to discuss with your significant other what needs to go and what needs to stay. You will be surprised how much money is thrown away due to unsupervised expenses. If you haven't used that app subscription in months, cancel it. If you haven't gone to the gym in over a year due to the pandemic, cancel your membership. Every dollar adds up, and before you know it, you may uncover that $200 a month or more is being wasted. (See if there's a subscription cancel app) . Learn to compromise to meet a common goal. Sacrifices may need to be made (ESPN + subscription, Eating out, or HBO Max), but that's ok because you are working towards a greater goal: Your family's success and financial stability.

Establish Family Goals

Once you have identified each other's expenses and you trimmed the fat that was eating away at the hard-earned money you receive, now it's time to establish family goals. Think about the things you and your significant other have wanted to do but kept putting off because you didn't have the money to do so. Plan for big purchases and trips/events. Instant gratification will be the downfall of you both. Teach this to your kids as early as possible. I know due to technology and the internet, we are accustomed to getting things right as we request them, but the intangible trait of patience and fortitude is not lost. My family and I have a family vacation fund and car repair fund, for example.

Every month we put $400 in the car repair fund and $400 in the family vacation fund. This allows us not to have our paycheck decimated when a significant repair is mandatory for our cars. Also, we can make payments to ourselves for our vacation fund while we decide where or what we want to do. Due to the pandemic, we used our vacation fund to purchase a Tonal to stay in good health and shape. This is an example of making a big purchase with saved money over time. This allows you to stay away from having to use your credit card and maxing that out. These kinds of "saving funds" are called sink funds. Make sinking funds that allow issues or events to not come as a surprise. Mishaps will be inconveniences and not code red emergencies. As my grandmother would say, "Make sure you are not one step away from oblivion if one thing goes wrong."

Be Reasonable

Understand the limits of your income. If you make $45,000 a year, then act accordingly. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Act your wage." There is no shame in this, and you are not in the business of proving anything to anyone. You have an obligation to yourself and your family, no one else. If it's going to take ten months to save up for a new car for the family, then so be it. Plan ahead so that you are not making rash and compromising decisions. Never live above your means. If you find yourself frustrated by your income's limitations without your credit card to save you monthly, then use that frustration as motivation to find a way to bring in more income.

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Incorporate the Kids

Involving the kids in some way is highly encouraged. I'm not saying you have to be completely transparent with them because I believe in kids still knowing their place within the family but incorporate them in some way for them to have an understanding of money and how easily it can be squandered. Show them how to budget, how to save, and how to invest. You want to teach them the things you didn't learn until you were already an adult. That is what we as parents are supposed to be doing—providing wisdom to our children so that they do not have to go through the issues we did. As parents, we cannot allow our children to start from scratch.

Ending Thoughts

According to Charles Schwab 72% of households do not have a written financial plan. Savology conducted research and found that households with a financial plan are 2.5x more likely to save enough for retirement. I genuinely believe that a family that budgets together grows together. This is one of the foundations of peace and stability in a home. I am not saying excellent financial management will bring ultimate happiness, but it sure does take care of many problems we come across in life.

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