Okay so, you want to save money, you're willing to learn, it's obvious, after all, you are HERE!
To develop a successful budget for your family, here are 5 Key Points . . .
1. Teamwork- Unless you're Single, then your spouse should be on board with the budget. You both need to have a clear understanding of what the monthly expenses are, where the money flow is headed (to the bills, to your favorite restaurant or bar every Friday night!), as well as who is responsible for physically paying the bills, (writing the checks, clicking the online bill pay, etc).
2. Put it in Writing - sit down together and make two columns on plain piece of paper. In one column, list all of your expenses, don't forget things like pet care, daycare, even magazine subscriptions. In the other column list all sources of income.
3. Understand Your Income- this sounds relatively easy, but in my experience many folks just don't know what their income truly is. If you get paid on a weekly basis, grab your check stubs, take a look at how many deductions are being withdrawn weekly, insurance expenses, 401K (find out if your work is matching your 401K!) This is an avenue of free money that you could be missing out on. Sometimes, viewing your expenses vs your income in a percentage point of view makes a difference in your spending habits. For example, If you make $2,000 a month and you want a new truck with payments of $500 a month than 25% of your income is going to your vehicle- and that's not including insurance, excise or personal property taxes, title & registration fees.
If you are self-employed and your income is a bit dodgy, figure out how much income you average per month and use that as your guideline for your budget.
4. Prioritize- This is a serious Must-Do. Once you have written down all of your expenses on paper- get a clean sheet of paper and rewrite them in order of Priority. If your house is your biggest priority, put your mortgage at the top.
Use a program, such as Quicken, to track your expenses but be sure to print out a copy of your budget once it's completed, tack it up in a place where you AND your spouse can take a look at it everyday. No, this isn't to worry you and make you wonder where you're going to get enough money to pay the bills, this is to remind you of what your expenses are, where your money Needs to go and what your goals are.
5. List your Goals- Most couples don't plan to fail, but many fail to plan. If you haven't discussed with your significant other what your goals are and you are not both in agreement of those goals, you will not reach them. On the bottom of your Budget, Write your Goals down. If your goal is to have your house paid off and be entirely debt free, write it on there. If your goal is to Retire at age 55, put it down on paper.
If you follow these key points, you will be well on your way to creating a successful family budget.