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Your family budget does not necessarily have to fit a template – even if you do use a template, you can customize it. A budget that really fits your style and family dynamic tend to be a lot easier to stick with, and can even be fun! I know from personal experience trying different types of budget keeping, most need some changes to make them work for my family budget. And some my husband and I tried and ended up not using. Either there was too much structure or it wasn’t set up in a way we could use as a regular habit. Here are some creative budgeting ideas for your family budget.
It’s Your Budget
Get your whole family to participate in creative budgeting ideas to make it really yours. Create common goals and brainstorm for fun and creative budgeting ideas. Kids are more apt to listen to you about shutting lights off and not running water endlessly if they understand what it costs as a family. Give real-life examples like: “if we decrease our utilities 10% we’ll be able to take a vacation this summer.” or “the money we save on our water and electric bill will let us save for those new bikes you’ve been wanting.” They can learn not only the value of helping the planet but also help save their family money.
Before you start your budget keep these tips in mind:
- Evaluate your past spending.
- Keep it simple and easy to manage. Start with your monthly bills, groceries, and other regular expenses.
- Pay yourself first. Put some money into your savings before you pay for other stuff.
- Remember every little bit helps or hurts. Saving up extra change, turning off the light when you leave a room; it all adds up to savings. But also a little spending here and there adds up quickly: an extra coffee from the drive-thru, a take-out dinner because you don’t feel like cooking.
- Don’t go overboard until you want to quit. Unless you are in deep money trouble, take things gradually. Introduce something new here and there until you have a budget system in place you and your family can live by without feeling miserable.
- Consider your mindset about spending. Do you spend because it feels good? Or do you spend because you actually need that item?
Cookouts and Eat In’s
The great American cookout is a great way to have an “outing” while saving money. If you grill seasonal garden vegetables, it’s an even bigger money saver. Get creative – you can grill inexpensive, “ordinary” foods and make them seem like a treat. For example, mix up some flatbread dough and cook it on the grill. You can even do pizza on the grill!
Eating at home can save a family $100’s each month in food cost. The average American eats out 4.2 times a week. Add on coffee breaks and you might be eating (and drinking) enough money to save for that vacation you’ve been dreaming about, saving for a home, putting into the kid’s college fund. Generally, eating at home save you money and is healthier.
Instead of eating out 2, 3, or 4 times a week, eat once or twice a month. Make more of a special occasion than a habit.
And when you do go to eat, you save different ways:
- Join the restaurant mailing list for special coupons and deals.
- Buy gift cards when there’s a deal like during the holidays.
- Split your meal and take half of it home. Many times the portions are enough for two meals.
- Order from deals menu like 2 meals for $25.
- Dine on nights kids eat free.
Change the Way You Shop
Instead of going to the grocery unprepared, create a meal plan and shopping list. Plan for a trip once a week. Stick to foods you make from scratch and avoid convenience package foods. You’ll know what you need for meals. You’ll be prepared so you don’t miss things as often (no more “I forgot the ground beef for the meatloaf, so I’m ordering pizza”). Plus, making meals from scratch helps save money and are healthier. And, those convenient snack packs? You end up paying way more than dividing up yourself.
Here’s a quick list to help remember:
- Start with a meal plan
- Use what you have at home in meals
- Browse the internet for budget-friendly recipes
- Check grocery sales papers and coupons
- Make a list and stick to it
Have a No Spend Month
A no-spend month challenge is when you pick a month to not spend money. Except for paying bills and items you absolutely need, abstain from shopping. Instead, use up excess groceries in your kitchen and pantry. Eat at home instead of getting takeout.
Look for fun activities you can do (as also the family) that’s free:
- Nature walks
- Movies at Home Night
- Board Games
- Visit the Library
Why is worth doing?
- You save more money than normal months putting your finances in better shape.
- It helps you better see where your money goes to make better spending decisions.
- Your family will spend more time together and grow closer.
Creative Savings – Take a Savings Challenge
Start a savings jar you keep in a place where all the family contributes. Take a savings challenge in which each day, or week, you put in a certain amount. It creates momentum until you’ve saved a certain amount. It might for something special or to create an emergency savings account.
Another method is simply never to spend change. When you pay cash for something, always use paper money – if the total is $5.26, give the clerk $6. Then put this change into the jar. You’ll be amazed at how this can accumulate over the year, especially if you use cash often.
Declutter your home and have a yard sale. Sell off that stuff you never use to fill your savings more. Show your kids how they can do the same with toys and books they’ve outgrown. Let me take their earnings to save for something new they’ve been wanting.
Here are some ideas of what you could declutter and sell:
- Extra furniture
- Unused small appliances
- Craft Supplies – yarn, fabric, scrapbooking supplies
- Toys children have outgrown – Barbies, Hotwheels, Legos, Little Ponies
- Collectibles – baseball cards, memorabilia
- Vintage and Antiques – Pyrex dishware, record albums, etc.
DIY It More
Make use of all those online tutorials to fix minor problems around the house. Try typing your problem into your search engine and look for tutorials. It’s amazing how much information is on the internet, even for solving obscure problems. You don’t have to DIY everything; some things are better left to a professional. Start with small projects that have a simple solution and don’t take a long time to complete.
Here are some easy DIY project ideas:
- Repaint a room
- Recaulk your bathtubs or windows
- Refinish an old dresser
- Make your own home decor accents
Wrapping It Up
We live in a time where everything is instant. You want something you go get it. We put unneeded items on credit and later feel we are drowning in debt. We shop because it makes us feel good, not because we need something. Our lives are so full, we don’t have time to prepare our own meals and sit to eat together. We end up feeling unsatisfied with our lives, lonely, and in debt.
Instead, why not take your life back. Put yourself in control of your financial future. Start your budget with some of these creative budgeting ideas, weed out what you don’t need, and begin creating a safety net for your family.
- Keys to a Successful Family Budget
- Why You Need A Household Budget
- The Smartest Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund
- Do You Have A Financial Safety Net? (And How To Build One)