Monday, August 29, 2011

Making a budget work for your family.

Q.  What is a budget?
A.  Telling your money where to go.
Sounds simple; it is simple - in theory.  We started our budgeting get out of debt process 15 months ago.  We've paid off our debts and are now working on our FFEF of 3 months of expenses.  You would think by now our budget would be perfected and would not need any more tweaking right?  Well, if you answered yes, like I did, then you would be mistaken.

I've said before that we set up sinking funds for things we have to budget for but not necessarily need every month, and they've been working out great for us - mostly.  I say mostly because it is really hard to put aside money for clothes and hair for a whole family and to not have any money that is not budgeted for.   I did not leave any money un-budgeted for "blow money."  That is the quickest way to kill a budget right there, so we are changing up our way of doing things to see if it helps.

Starting in September Chris and I will each get a set amount of money per month that is not budgeted to anything.  We can spend it all each month, save it for something big, or anything; and we don't have to ask permission to use or check to make sure it is in the budget.  I am very excited about this idea because it has been over a year since I've bought something/done something that wasn't budgeted for and it was starting to wear me down.

We decided that our "blow/fun/whatever" money is going to fund our haircuts, clothes, eating out when we're not together, and gifts to each other (Christmas, anniversary, b-days, etc...).  I'll give this a few months of trying and let ya'll know how it works out for us.

Always remember, just because you make a budget doesn't mean it can't be changed.  If it isn't realistic for you then you won't stick to it.  Budgets are not one size fits all.  Each one is custom made to fit each family.  It will take a few (at least 4) months of budgeting to really get in the swing of it and see what works and what doesn't.  If something doesn't work, change it.  You can't say you are only going to spend $20/month eating out if you know you go out to eat every Sunday after church.  You can't say you will spend $0 on clothes because it just isn't realistic.  Make your budget fit you and you will be much more successful.

What categories are the hardest to budget for?  What tips do you have to give me?

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