One of the easiest expenses for most families to reduce is the entertainment budget. It is possible for the average family to keep themselves entertained and save hundreds of dollars on entertainment every year.
Anyone who has children has likely heard “I’m bored!” a few too many times. When you’re on a budget, it can be tough to think of ways to entertain the family that don’t cost a lot of money. Fortunately, there are many options available to you if you know where to look.
Head to the library, and not just to check out books. Look at the library’s community events calendar. Most have everything from story times for toddlers to game nights for teens. Many also have enrichment classes offered free of charge.
Visit the local community center. Most counties have at least one. There, you can pick up a parks and recreation schedule, with information on free events taking place throughout the year, such as hikes, holiday parties, arts festivals, outdoor movies and concerts in the park.
Tour the fire station. Most fire fighters will give you and your kids a free tour, as long as you call and schedule ahead of time. Kids can learn about fire safety and tour the facility. For safety reasons, fire stations do not generally accommodate toddlers under the age of four.
Sometimes your salary isn’t paying quite enough to cover all your needs. But you know what, there is no problem that cannot be resolved. You simply need to put a few things into perspective and you will have an easy time putting your money into good use.
When your income is limited, having a household budget is not only a good idea; it is imperative. Living on a budget might sound restricting or like too much work. However, having a workable family budget is actually quite liberating and simple. It puts you in charge of your money, rather than allowing money to control your life.
Track Your Expenses
Before you can create a workable household budget you have to know where your money is going. Certified Public Accountant Mark Noel recommends tracking family spending for at least a month to six weeks before you start working on a budget. “As inconvenient as it sounds, every member of the family should get a receipt for everything, and I mean everything, they purchase,” he says. Use those receipts to get a clear picture of how and where you spend your money. Using personal finance tracking software can help you track expenditures: you might find some obvious expenses you can cut right away.
Create a Budget
“Implementing a workable budget is the single most important thing a low-income family can do to get control their money,” Noel shares. Getting input from each member of the family will help keep you from leaving out budget items. “Because every member of your family will be affected by your family budget, creating that budget should be a family affair. Having extra sets of eyes on your budget always helps,” Noel adds. If everyone has a say in creating the budget, they are more likely to buy into maintaining the budget.
Budget for Sufficiency
The key is making your household budget work is ensuring it is sufficient for your needs. For example, if you need $200 per month for food, but you only budget $125, your budget won’t work. You’ll end up taking $75 from some other budget category to spend on food which will make that category short, so you’ll take from a different category to fill that need. It becomes a vicious cycle. This is the time in the budgeting process when you might have to make some tough decisions, particularly if your income isn’t sufficient to meet all of your needs, much less your wants.
If your budgeted expenses exceed your income, you need to make some adjustments. You only have two options: cut your expenses or increase your