Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been able to stick to a New Year’s resolution to keep a budget. Continue reading
Household budgeting should involve a team effort.
There are times when things will be inevitably tight around the house. When you are the only mouth to feed, it is easier to understand your current situation. However, as you dive into the family life, budgeting is not so easy to comprehend if you aren’t the one paying the bills.
Growing up, my parents were always very open about our financial situation at different times in my adolescence. They made sure to include my sister and I on what was happening very early on, and I am so glad that they did. At first, I had a hard time understanding, but as I got older, it began to make more sense.
The less involved the family is with finances, the less they will understand. It can be difficult for your growing kids to see why they can’t get those new clothes they want or go to the movies with their friends. The term “money doesn’t grow on tress” may not be enough to get them on the same page. Now is a great time to not only teach them, but show them the value of a dollar.
Making household budgeting a family affair will set positive habits for the future as well. So, how can you get the family involved?
Organize the information
Prior to holding a family meeting to discuss finances, gather up all of your bills and household expenses. This includes groceries, gas, car and house payments and so on. Also include those expenses that are not monthly but may only be quarterly or annually. Be fully prepared to also answer any questions about money that your kids may have.
Be open and honest
Lay everything out on the line. Don’t try to hide anything from your family, even if the news does not look so hot. This is the first step in everyone grasping the reality of the financial situation rather than their fantasy. By hiding certain pieces of information, they may feel money exists where it doesn’t and the problem will continue.
Show them what’s left
Try to have a personal spreadsheet of the expenses and income in the home to really make the point visible. List the pay dates and how each expense is paid. This will be a great way to actually show them what is left each month.
Encourage applying for jobs
Should you have a teen that is old enough, encourage them to get a job so that they can fund their own entertainment. Household chores are an excellent way to earn an allowance, but not all families have the finances to even provide such. I had my first job when I was 15 working in a greenhouse. It was seasonal from spring to early fall, so it worked out well with my school schedule. This taught me personally how to save money as I would save up my paychecks over the course of the months to use throughout the year.
Get everyone’s input
It may be wise to share the budgeting system you have in place for your home. I was around 10 years old when I began to understand that money was not endless and that some months were more difficult than others. Depending on the age of your children, you could ask for their input and have them be a part of the household budgeting process. Your kids may end up having more ways you can end up with more money at the end of each month by being willing to give up some of their own desires. It is likely that through this process, everyone would be willing to give up those additional unnecessary expenses like satellite TV so that you can do even more with the family income.
Younger children may not fully understand, but you can still find ways to show and teach them that your money supply is not endless. (Be on the look out for an article in the future about this topic.)
Your financial situation may not even be bad, but still informing the family of what is coming in and out will help enhance the household budgeting. Budgeting is never really a comfortable topic, but when you include the family, everyone begins to take on more responsibility. You’ll most likely find some pressure alleviated off of you as well.
How do you handle household budgeting in your own home?
A vacation doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you are a traveler on a budget, these cheap travel tips are for you.
With concerns of rising air fares, baggage fees, cost of gas and more, taking time to travel can seem financially daunting and unrealistic when everyone wants you to save and think about retirement more. The truth is, you can most certainly still travel on a budget. Here are nine easy cheap travel tips, some of which I use myself:
- Travel off-season. This is probably one of the easiest ways to save on your next trip, especially when flying. You will find that the rates are lower right off the bat when you plan to leave when others are typically not. Savings will also be found in rental cars and accommodations. If your trip depends on warm, nice weather, I would recommend comparing and contrasting prices in the fall and spring.
- Bring your own food. Are you going on a road trip? Pack your own food to avoid extra spending on stopping at restaurants or fast food joints. Plus, you’ll get to your location faster by saving time. My boyfriend and I often hit a lot of ground when we travel, and our most recent trip was a road trip. We were able to save time and money by bringing our own meals for the road.
- Leave during the week. The weekends are unquestionably busiest for traveling, which means higher prices in air fare, car rentals, hotels and the like. By generally choosing to fly out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you can make your vacation cheap. Always keep major holidays in mind, though, as that does change things.
- Opt for a bed and breakfast. When my boyfriend, Ryan, and I decided to travel to Seattle in 2014, we knew this trip would not be cheap, mostly because of both renting a car for a few days and needing to stay in hotels for four of the seven nights of our excursion. Ryan was not too keen on the idea of a hostel (another inexpensive option) due to none with privacy being available, so I began looking into bed and breakfasts. I found a happy-medium, located right by downtown Seattle in the Cultural District, The Panama Hotel. It is technically a hotel but has a bed and breakfast feel. It also holds much history. In fact, it is the only remaining Japanese bathhouse still standing in the United States. We stayed here for the first couple nights at the beginning of our trip, and we were able to save money while also being able to walk through the downtown area. And, speaking of which…
- Put on your walking shoes. If you are trying to save as much money as possible on your trip, make a plan to walk as much as possible. Even in the age of the sharing economy with Uber and Lyft, try walking. You can still use that extra $20 for your next meal. Remember: cheap travel is the key here.
- Get the biggest bang for your buck. Ryan and I have been able to do multiple trips because we often incorporate the great outdoors in our travels. We will stay a few nights in a major city then head out of town to a national park or outdoor area that interests us, which helps us to keep expenses low while traveling. In addition to be cheaper, it also allows us to experience so much more.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a refund. If you noticed a cheaper deal with another hotel company or car rental after booking, you can cancel your current agreement to go for the lower rate. Just make sure you do it in enough time and read the terms on your receipts. Many hotels allow a 24-hour cancellation notice in order to receive a refund. Others might require a minimum of 48-hours.
- Fly out locally. Instead of flying out of a major city’s airport, you may be able to save by flying out through a regional airport. Be sure not to rule it out when doing your price comparisons.
- Use an app. I am still learning about all the awesome apps there are you can use to find the best deals along with last-minute reservations. I am sure you are aware of useful tools like Groupon, Airbnb and LivingSocial, but some others include HotelsTonight and Air Help, which helps you with airfare compensation. You can also manage travel points through TPG To Go.
Part of cheap travel is to also know peak times in the areas in which you want to travel. Going with my point listed above, you can expect to spend more on travel costs during the area’s busiest times.
By keeping your budget in check and using these little tricks, you can fit a vacation that not only suits your schedule but your wallet as well.
What would you add to the list?