There are times in every life when a budget needs to be modified — or created — to help reign in spending, pay down debt or make adjustments for changed life circumstances.
One of our Get My PERKS team members learned her husband was being cut down to part time for a few months. They have a baby on the way and that is when expenses usually go up, not down. When life happens, how do you deal, especially if the money you have in savings is going to other expenses (or maybe the idea of savings is a pipe dream in the first place)?
Here are 7 ways to build a more balanced budget — and some of them are so common sense they might surprise you!
- KNOW WHAT YOU ARE REALLY SPENDING. Usually couples who have debit cards that get swiped miss a lot of those little charges. $4.00 at McD’s might not sound like much, but little charges add up quickly and can break your budget. Take an hour and print out all your swipes and debits. Categorize them and you’ll quickly see what charges are necessary and which could be quickly eliminated by packing lunch, drinking water instead of soda, making coffee at home and more. Remember, though, this is not a blame game. If you are in a relationship — you BOTH need to work on the changes because you BOTH are responsible for your monetary habits.
- MAKE CASH KING. It’s a psychological thing, but cash is more valuable than swiping that card. When you create your budget, you should allocate money for throw away items like an occasional trip to a fast food place, but those things should be budgeted and cash only transactions. On each payday, pull out the cash that you and your partner can each spend on non-essential items. That’s it. No more when that runs out. You’ll find out that having to make transactions with cash will make you think about each purchase.
- MENUS SAVE MONEY. Yup. Planning your trip to the grocery store will save you money. also, if you do it one time per week instead of every few days, you will cut down on the extras you end up picking up. We blogged about making a menu recently. Check it out here.
- FIND EASY WAYS TO CUT FIRST. There is non-necessary things in just about everyone’s budget, but what do you cut and what stays? Maybe you take down your cable package by $20 a month or cut ou one of the three paid video services you subscribe to. Your phone plan may have room to cut. Make sure you talk about these things with your partner so you are both sacrificing but no one is taking on all the burden. If you eat out three times a week, that’s another good opportunity to take that money and make sure it is covering your necessities.
- MAKE THE HARD DECISIONS TOGETHER — WITH A PLAN. Maybe it’s time to say a total bye bye to cable or maybe you have to get rid of one of your vehicles since one of you is not working as steadily. These are hard decisions that have to be discussed but, honest conversations are better than forced decisions. When you are thinking about making a big cut, make sure you know how it will impact your future budget and how it will help. Seeing that on paper will help make the decision easier and the pain a little less.
- KIDS WILL UNDERSTAND — AND CAN HELP. Admitting you have to cut back on lifestyle is hard for you, but it is often harder if you have kids that will also have to cut back. Don’t hide the struggle from them but explain and allow them to help with creative ideas on how to save money or make more money. Even the moodiest teenager who has to sacrifice some of that precious data plan will usually understand when it is for the good of the family. If you do something like have a garage sale to raise some money, don’t be afraid to let them help and earn their own money by clearing out some of their unused items.
- FIND DEALS THAT YOU CAN USE FOR FUN. You need fun, even on a budget. There are so many ways to do this for free (play day in the park, swim in the lake) but so many more take money, so watch for fun opportunities on sites like Get My PERKS that may give you and your family the opportunity to have fun without breaking the budget.
What are some ways your family works to balance your budget? Submit your comments below.