Five Steps to Fixing Your Family’s Budget

28 November 2012

1. Expenses? Make a list of needs and wants
So, you have a list of expenses that you simply must have. But why group things like your home loan alongside expenses like your DSTV and gardening service?

Be honest with yourself about your genuine needs and decide whether you really need somebody to do the cleaning in your house or whether it is a luxury. Think long and hard about each and every one of your expenses and write then down into of the two columns.

By all means, hang on to luxuries if you have the finances available, but when times begin to get tight, return to the list you have made and start scrapping things that are written in your luxuries column – having made the list beforehand will make it easier for you to decide what you can do without because you spent the time evaluating each expense from the outset.

Better yet? List everything in order of essential to genuine luxury -when you need to start cutting back, start at the bottom of the list and move up until you have freed up some of the unnecessary expenses.

2. Plan for the Inevitable
Granted, there are certain things in life that you simply can’t plan for, like a sudden loss of income or your house burning down. That’s why you put your hard earned money into things like insurance.

Yet there are certain things in life that you can plan for, even if you can’t be certain exactly when they are going to happen and most family’s or couples go through a number of similar ‘sudden expenses’ – be mindful of these when planning your finances.

Things like weddings, buying your first family home, funerals, retirement, hospitalisation – all of these are inevitable at some point, so don’t leave yourself open to sudden shock when one of these occurs and you haven’t got the money put aside somewhere. As always, be realistic in how much you can afford to put away.

3. Set Financial Goals
Set frequent financial goals for yourself, both short and long term, and reward yourself for achieving them. Whether it is setting aside some money each month to afford a year end vacation or putting money away for your first home. Even saving for something as simple as a ‘dinner for two’ is a good way to get into a habit of setting goals that are achievable – set yourself achievable goals and watch your financial self confidence grow.

4. Hold Regular Family Meetings
Teaching your kids the value of budgeting from a young age is a sure fire way to ensure that they are financially savvy in the future. Experts across the board agree that involving the entire family in budgeting decisions makes for a far more financially stable household. It is up to you to decide the level of input from the rest of the family, but by having your family involved in talking about money frequently you’ll make sure that when it comes to big financial decisions the entire family will be comfortable talking to each other about money and that there will be a deeper understanding of the implications for the entire family.

5. Get Help
Too many people think that getting help with their finances is only for people that can afford financial advisors or financial planners. Or even worse, only for people who are in financial trouble.

If you suspect that you are getting into trouble with your debts or finances, then you can contact us immediately to discuss your concerns and one of our registered debt counsellors will evaluate your financial situation. We have a number of debt solutions which will fit everybody’s individual situation.

The most important thing when it comes to seeking advice is that you must be honest about the state of your finances and that you make the call for help before it is too late.

If you bury your head in the sand, it might be too late by the time you come asking for help and then not even a debt counsellor will be able to help you with your problems.

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