Managing a family budgetManaging a family budget can be a tricky business. When thinking of managing money, things like income, regular expen-ditures, occasional expenditures, and unexpected expenditures may be running through your mind making the idea of money management a bit overwhelming. The key to managing a family budget to reach your financial goals is to be organized and track your finances.
By: Christina rittenbach, NDSU Extension Service, The Jamestown Sun
Managing a family budget can be a tricky business. When thinking of managing money, things like income, regular expen-ditures, occasional expenditures, and unexpected expenditures may be running through your mind making the idea of money management a bit overwhelming. The key to managing a family budget to reach your financial goals is to be organized and track your finances.
The first thing you may want to do is ask yourself what your financial goals are. Think in terms of short- term (3-12 months), intermediate-term (1-5 years), and long-term (5+ years) goals. Figure out actual dollar amounts that you will need to save in order to reach your goals. Assigning a dollar amount can help make your goal a reality.
After you have determined where you would like to be financially, it can be helpful to organize and track your finances. Doing so will help you to see how you are spending your money and where you could possibly cut back. There are several different methods for tracking your finances, so do what works best for you. Here are four methods you may want to try to organize your financial tracking:
1. Use a tracking sheet. You can either create your own or use a pre-made tracking sheet. Keep a list of your daily expenditures and record it on a tracking sheet that contains columns of various categories (food, personal care, eating out, entertainment, etc.). Use this sheet to see in which categories you are spending the most money, and where you could make cuts to reach your goals.
2. Use a check register. You can use a checkbook register to track your expenses — including cash, credit, or debit purchases — and your income. It is important to record each transaction immediately to keep your records up to date.
3. Use a calendar. Start out by writing in your balance on the first day of the month. Add in your income on the appropriate dates. Then write down when your bills need to be paid or when you will need to go grocery shopping, clothes shopping, etc. Track your daily expenses on the calendar and add and subtract as you go along.
4. Use an envelope. While this method is not as secure because it requires more cash on hand, it is one of the easier methods. Use one or more envelopes to hold your money (multiple envelopes could be used for different spending categories or different members of the family). Record expenses on the envelope. You may even wish to store your receipts in the envelopes.
For examples of any of the tracking methods, or more information on managing finances, contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension agent, at 252-9030 or email@example.com