Creating a household budget early in a relationship is a great way for couples to communicate about money. You and your partner may have been raised with different financial values, so planning and following a budget helps get you both on the same page. Useful hints for a family budget include tracking spending, accounting for all expenses, saving regularly and keeping your banking simple.
Track Cash Spending
Avoid the frustration of trying to figure out where your cash goes by tracking bank withdrawals and cash purchases for a month. Carry a small notebook or use your smartphone to record each impulse buy or visit to the coffee shop. Tally it up at the end of the month to get the overall spending picture. Organize cash spent by category. If cash spending is pushing you over budget, look for cheaper alternatives to your current purchases, such as visiting the library instead of the bookstore.
Remember Irregular Expenses
Too often household budgets fail to account for expenses that don't fall neatly into a weekly or monthly schedule. Some insurance premiums have annual payments, and some utility bills are billed quarterly. Calculate the monthly equivalent of all payments when creating your household budget. If you are a driver, hunter or fishing enthusiast, divide your annual license renewal fees by twelve to get a monthly estimate. Also record the monthly equivalent of any membership or other fees to ensure an accurate budget.
Pay Yourself First
Include savings as part of monthly expenses when you create a household budget. This removes the idea that savings is optional and establishes regular savings as a permanent part of your overall financial plan. Set up an automatic payment from your checking account to an emergency savings account or retirement plan to remove the temptation to spend the money on something else. This is also a good way to save for vacations or larger future expenses such as a new car or renovations to your home.
Simplify Your Banking
Make it easier to track your finances by keeping just one savings account and one checking account. This simplifies monthly budgeting for a couple, and may also save bank service charges and fees. Shop around to find the least expensive bank accounts for your family. Many banks offer reduced- or no-fee accounts for maintaining a certain balance or as part of a banking package that includes a mortgage or car loan.
A former financial adviser with more than a decade of experience in personal finance and small business banking, Sarita Harbour is a professional writer specializing in personal finance, small business, technology, and content marketing techniques. Her writing appears online at sites such as Yahoo! Homes and Bob Vila. Harbour holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and computer science from the University of Guelph and the Personal Financial Planning designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers.