Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Making your 2015 Family Budget Work for You!

Budgeting is one of the most difficult aspects of raising a family. If your 2014 budget plan didn’t go according to plan, then it’s time to reconsider some of your normal routines. When it comes to monthly spending, making a change in your budget planning may be that what makes your 2015 budget a successful undertaking.

The crazy thing is that if your budget failed you last year, you have a better opportunity to repair your 2015 budget, since you should know where you fell short last year. You will need to be willing to really look at what went wrong, but if you do, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be successful this year. Begin by looking critically at what went wrong with your last year’s budget. Did you have a big, expensive emergency? Unexpected medical bills? These are things you can’t really do much about, but did you find yourself visiting the department store a bit more than you should have? Were you quick to find some shopping therapy? These things you can do something about, and they’re habits you should change in 2015 to make your budget successful.

Make a list of all the problem areas that your family ran into last year. When you’ve got that list, it’s time for a family sit-down, and while you’re at it, consider the benefits of making budget planning a whole-family affair. Some parents don’t want to burden their kids with financial woes when they’re young, but what harm does it do to start teaching kids to live within their means early in life? Rather than being seen as a burden, there are a lot of benefits to be found in instilling good budgeting values early in life.

So, where did the money go? Not surprisingly, many folks say that it goes in the usual places it always goes- just more quickly than they expected. Gas, groceries, bills, and the occasional dinner out all conspire to wreck the best budget plans. That means that you’ll probably have to take a closer look. For instance, gas expenses. It can really catch you off-guard when prices at the pump go up, and feel like a boon when the prices are down, and as of right now, we’re looking at the lowest gas prices in over a decade- prices that no one ever thought we’d see again, and there are some who say we won’t see $4-per gallon gas again for a long, long time. That means that this is a great time to lay aside what you aren’t spending on gas for when prices do rise again. That way you’ll have a cushion for when they do, and your future budget won’t suffer!

Another big one is groceries, and there are plenty of reasons for those prices to go up. With oil prices low, groceries are likely to be priced lower, but the western drought has left beef prices high. What once was an inexpensive staple of many family menus has become somewhat pricy. Instead of lamenting $5/pound ground chuck, try checking out a more vegetarian-friendly diet, and just cut back on your beef intake until the prices normalize again. Easy as that! (Who knew watching commodities prices could help you maintain a budget, right?)

Give some thought to changing the way you organize your budget if it didn’t work so well last year. It may be simply that you need a pre-organized system to use Instead of just assuming that it will work out. Try something like using a budget template or do the “envelope budget,” where you lay aside specified amounts every month in an earmarked envelope. However you do it, budgeting your family finances is one thing that must be mastered. Continuing the cycle of spending yourself into oblivion is no way to get ahead in life, so grab the bull by the horns in 2015, and get that budget squared away! 

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