I’ve posted about how to save on Groceries and Entertainment, but we haven’t talked about an overall household or family budget.
I know there are a lot of families and individuals who go without a budget. They just “Wing It” and spend money as they please, and if they are starting to run low, they turn to credit cards. This is dangerous for so many reasons.
Making a budget isn’t hard, and it doesn’t have to be ironclad. Living within a budget isn’t stark or austere, it’s comforting. Comforting to know that there will always be enough money to cover your bills, feed your family, and may enough to stash a bit in savings for a rainy day.
There are tons of ways to budget, so many methods. I’m going to share how we budget in our family.
We use Google Sheets. It’s a shareable spreadsheet, so we can have access to it, wherever we are, and it can be changed and updated as needed.
At the end of each year, I make a new Google Sheet for the upcoming year with 12 pages: One for each month. I’ve dummied an extra page up to show you all:
I have a Monthly Budget column in addition to the Actual Cost column. Most of the bills each month have a constant amount due:
- HOA Dues
- Insurance (Vehicle, health, homeowners/renters, dental, vision)
- Cell phones/home phones (if you have one)
- Gym membership
- Cable/Streaming services
- 529’s (College savings)
- Gift Account (We save $25 each month to help cover holiday gifts and fun stuff for the family throughout the year)
- Transfer to Saving- We endeavor to save a little bit each month- to help save for a rainy day.
For those bills that can fluctuate, I budget an amount based on the average from the last year. The bills that can vary each month are:
- SDG&E (Gas & Electric)
- Water (Includes sewer)
In addition to these monthly bills, we also budget for groceries, gas, date night, “fun money” (which is $40/week for us to do fun stuff with the kiddos). For groceries and fun money, I go to the ATM/bank each week and get cash. This keeps me from overspending. Any money that isn’t used, gets put into a piggy bank in our room and can be saved for bigger adventures. Truthfully, there isn’t usually much leftover.
If you notice, most of our bills are paid via auto-draft. By automating our bills, they are paid on time (no late fees and hits to our credit), and I don’t have to buy stamps, write checks, go to the post office.
If you notice there are notations for what is taken out of paychecks: Health Insurance, HSA, Vision Insurance. IRA contributions are also deducted, but I don’t track that monthly. We receive quarterly statements, and we update a separate sheet with that info. The IRA’s aren’t funds that we have access to at this point in our life, so they don’t really factor into our family budget. We also track when car registrations are due, Kick Boxing membership (We pay annually to save money), and we purchase protein shakes quarterly.
While we aren’t jet setting, we living well within our budget. There will be some changes to our family budget in 2020, including a car payment for me (After 10 years, my car needs to be replaced for something a little bigger), and a line item for the littlest ones pre-school (due monthly).
We’ll be making adjustments here and there, trying to save where we can so that our new additions to the budget will fit in seamlessly.
My hope is that by showing you our family budget and the types of things that we budget for, you are inspired to set up your own family budget and get your spending and saving under control.
Our ongoing savings goal is to have 6 months in expenses saved. We are still working on this goal, and every little bit we can save goes towards this goal.
Talk Back: Do you have a family budget? How do you keep your family spending and saving on track?