Managing your own money is tough enough, let alone having to juggle your family’s finances too. Add in a more complex household and you can soon find that your finances take a back seat. However, getting a grip on your money is important, and should you run into difficulties in the future, it’ll be comforting knowing you’re up to date with your finances.
Whether you need a kick to become more organized or you’re taking charge of your finances for the first time, here are some useful tips to help you stay on top of your finances.
Face the reality of your financial situation
How well do you know your finances at the moment? A key problem that many families have is that they don’t know what’s coming in and what’s going out. As scary as it might be to do it, dig out your statements and analyze all of your accounts to help you determine where your money goes each month. With a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to make some more positive changes.
Keep things organized
Do you often spend hours trawling through drawers looking for insurance documents, passports and accounts information? You’re wasting a lot of your time! Perhaps it’s time to get your financial house in order? From making sure everything is kept in one place to creating electronic copies of important documents, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress by having everything in one easy-to-access place. Dedicate a morning or afternoon to clearing out all of your financial clutter and start being organized with your finances.
Create a family budget
Even if you’re in a comfortable position, it doesn’t hurt to have a budget in place. The right budget will help you to manage all of your outgoings while building up your savings too. Choose from a variety of household budget templates and stick to them. The money will become much easier to manage if you know how much you have to spend each month.
Let the bills take care of themselves
By manually paying bills and making payments, you run the risk of forgetting to pay your bills on time. This can damage your credit score, even if your finances are in a good place. Instead of running the risk of missed payments, set up automatic payments to make sure your bills are paid on time each month. Be sure to monitor the payments in case they end up being higher than normal and check over your accounts regularly.
Reduce your food spend
If you spend a lot of money on food each week, you might not only be wasting money but causing damage to the environment too. Food waste is a growing problem all over the world, and it’s up to families to do their part to help control it. By making meal plans each week, you can stay organized when it comes to grocery shopping and even save yourself money buying groceries you don’t need. Some other measures for reducing food waste include freezing foods, batch-cooking meals and buying fruit and vegetables that are pre-prepared. You’ll find that by being more aware of how much food you throw away, you’ll actively look for ways to reduce this waste, reducing your food spend in the process.
Set up a rainy day fund
You never know when you’re going to need to make repairs on something in your home. From AC repair to broken electronics, when you need something repaired it can soon become an urgent situation – especially if the thing that’s broken is vital to your family’s comfort and wellbeing. Having an emergency fund that you pay into each month can be beneficial to help you cover these unexpected and unplanned costs and get those repairs done straight away.
Aim to save more
While an emergency fund is one thing, it’s also important to have a long-term savings plan in place. Whether you have plans to buy a bigger home or you’d like to take the whole family on vacation, getting into the habit of regular saving will help you manage your money more effectively. Set yourself a savings target for each month and aim to hit it.
Cut back on unnecessary spending
If you want to make the most of your savings, then looking for ways to cut back could help you to grow them quicker. Some simple ways to save money include switching your utility suppliers to get the best deal and eating out less every month. With some simple cuts to your spending, you can grow your savings without having to sacrifice your existing comforts and lifestyle.
Teach kids about money
Teaching kids about money matters isn’t always easy, but giving them some education now will help them in the future, and could make your life easier in the present. Kids who understand the value of money will be less likely to ask and pester for toys, candy, etc. and might make them interested in how they can learn to make money to pay for the things they want. Why not give them an allowance for completing some household chores? It’ll ease the burden for you and will give them an incentive to help around the house too.
Make a plan to clear debts
If you’ve got a loan to pay off or credit card debt building up, make a plan to clear it. While some debt can be unavoidable, it’ll be better for your future finances to clear it. Plus, that money spent on making payments and paying back interest could be better transferred to your savings account or treating your family.
Improve your credit score
Even if you have no plans to take on credit at the moment, it’s still important to improve your credit score – you never know when you’re going to need it. Improving your credit score can take time, but by making repayments on your debts, demonstrating sensible borrowing and spending – you’ll soon turn things around. There are some great free score checkers out there at the moment to help you monitor things and help you stay on that upward ladder.
Take care of your insurance policies
Insurance is vital for families, and if your family has a lot of care and medical needs, it’s something that should be a priority. Review all of your existing policies to check that you’ve got the level of cover you need for health insurance, home insurance, and any other policies you might need. You can do a comparison search to help make sure you’re getting the best deal, and don’t be afraid to haggle with your current providers.
Find ways to boost your income
There are many reasons why you might want to boost your income. If your current salary doesn’t stretch far enough, you like to treat yourselves or you want to start planning for your retirement, then adding to your income seems like a sensible plan. There are different side hustles you can start immediately to help you boost your family’s finances and help your income to go further. As long as your side hustle doesn’t impact your job or your family life, there’s no reason why a side hustle can’t be a great move for you. A side hustle can eventually turn into a full-time job, which could be a great idea for work-at-home parents looking to find a balance.
Pay attention to financial news
How much do you know about financial news? If the answer is ‘not much’, then perhaps it’s time to change that. An understanding of financial matters is important, and if the recent recession has taught us anything, it’s that you never know when a problem could start affecting you. Personal finance is a good place to start and reading the latest personal finance news will teach you about things like interest rates, best mortgages, etc. as well as keep you in the loop about the latest developments and trends. Spend some time each week reading through the finance pages to help you develop a better understanding.
Know where to get help
Would you know where to turn to if you were to find yourself in deep money troubles? It’s good to know where help is available should you need it. From reading about grants and different government aid programs to discussing money issues with other family members, it helps to know that help is out there if you need it. It’s better to tackle problems head-on if you can, as leaving them to grow could mean that they end up becoming worse in the long-run.
Staying on top of your family’s finances is not always easy, but if you make a conscious effort to do it, it’ll soon become a part of normal family life. With your finances in a good place, you’ll have one less thing to worry about, meaning you can enjoy being with your family and not deal with the stress and anxiety that comes from money problems. Start adopting better habits today and keep your family’s finances in check.