Help With Managing Your Family Budget
I have a few tips for you about budgeting. I learned about these almost completely by accident but now I pass them on wherever and whenever I can. Together, they form a powerful combination of budgeting ideas that has helped me and my family take a huge bite out of our debt.
First, my husband and I take care of all the family bill payments together. It might seem like this arrangement is a recipe for conflict, and I thought the same thing at one time, but it’s worked out very well for both of us. It allows us to remain on the same page with each other. Every decision is made with both of us present, so there are no secrets. Also, the division of labor makes it easier on both of us. We divide the work and the worry. So it ends up taking less time and it gives us a lot less stress.
The second key piece in our budgeting puzzle is that we only devote one day each week to our bill paying and budgeting. The rest of the week we spend time actively not worrying about bills or payments. During the week, we collect all the mail and email that comes in that needs attention and then we work through that pile in our weekly session. We receive virtually nothing that can’t wait a few days to be dealt with and so one day each week works out well.
We like to take care of the bill paperwork on a morning during the weekend. Sometimes it’s Saturday. Other times it’s Sunday. We begin with a cup of coffee, and then we get down to business. After practicing for some time, we have a pretty efficient routine worked out, and it normally takes no longer than an hour to get through most of the work. Special items require a little more time of course, but it’s amazing how much you can get done when you work together with a routine. When we’re finished, we can really enjoy the weekend with the knowledge that we’ve taken care of our responsibilities.
We arrived at the next element of our method by vowing never to be late on even one bill payment again. My husband realized that during one year we had paid a lot of money for late and overdraft fees. He pointed out that by eliminating these extra fees, we might have had enough money for all of our Christmas needs. Well, that was enough for me; we worked out a method to never miss another payment again.
We came up with a budget spreadsheet that listed our payments chronologically along with some other information. It wasn’t perfect immediately, but we adjusted it each month. After a few months, it became a reliable tool to help us stay on top of our bills.
Before arriving at this new method of taking care of our bills, I took care of everything by myself, and it was extremely stressful and inefficient. What a fool I had been. Also, taking care of these responsibilities filled me with dread almost every day. Now, it’s extremely manageable and I don’t spend any time worrying about bills at all.
This approach is great because it doesn’t rely on fancy technology or advice from a high-cost financial guru. Even so, it’s helped us tremendously. We’ve been able to greatly control our spending and made great strides in eliminating credit card debt. I just wish we’d done it sooner.