How to Plan a Family Budget

by Janece Bass, Demand Media
    Plan your family budget together.

    Plan your family budget together.

    If you're a spender and your partner's a saver, or vice versa, drawing up and sticking to a budget can save you both from anguish, resentment or financial disaster. No one budget fits all, so you'll have to track your income and expenses to find the budget that works best for you both.

    Step 1

    Track your spending for one or two months. Use your checkbook register, credit card statements and cash receipts to make sure you know where your money goes. This has to be a joint effort between you and your partner to get an accurate idea of how much you spend each month.

    Step 2

    List all of your monthly expenses, beginning with household items. Your rent or mortgage, insurance, utilities, TV service, maintenance and other household expenses fall under this category. Transportation includes car payments, auto insurance, gas, maintenance and public transportation fees. Other set expenses might include credit card payments, loan payments and medical expenses.

    Step 3

    Include columns for long-term and short-term savings, such as a 401(k) or IRA and a basic savings account. Keep an account for emergencies, as well as extras, such as holiday gifts and vacations.

    Step 4

    Set aside a portion of your income for discretionary spending, such as a night out at the movies or monthly pedicures. You and your partner should both have a specified amount of money you can each spend on whatever you want. This gives you both a sense of control and financial freedom.

    Step 5

    Allocate a percentage of your income for each of the main categories once you know how much you typically spend in those areas. If your expenses are more than your income, trim your expenses as necessary.

    Step 6

    Track your income and expenses for the first couple of months to see if you need to adjust your budget. Revisit your budget and habits at least once a year to make any necessary adjustments or changes.

    Tips

    • Plan your budget together. Allowing one partner to have more control over the finances than the other can lead to disaster. If one partner is better at handling money than the other, that partner can be "in charge," as long as both of you know where you stand financially.
    • Set up your savings to come out of your account automatically each payday. Chances are if you don't see it, you won't miss it.
    • Use budgeting software if you aren't good at keeping things written down in a notebook.

    Warning

    • Avoid going into debt. Trim excess expenses and pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Adjust your budget as necessary to keep up with inflation.

    About the Author

    Janece Bass is a freelance writer specializing in weddings, family, health, parenting, relationships, dating, decorating, travel, music and sports. She has been writing for more than 15 years and has numerous published pieces on various websites and blogs. Bass has also ghostwritten various fiction-based novels.

    Photo Credits

    • Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images