Managing your money wisely means that you use the funds available to you in the best way possible, without waste or want at the end. It also means that you save and invest and set aside money for emergencies.
This is all necessary for responsibly managing your family’s finances and ensuring the best possible life for you and your loved ones.
Yes, taking on the responsibility of a family’s financial future is challenging and even stressful. However, with tips like ours, you’ll discover how to spend less than you earn. You may just enjoy budgeting because you’re taking back control!
So, let’s get down to the basics of managing your money in the coming year.
The three budgeting categories to keep track
With budgeting, almost any item on your list must fit into one of three main categories: wants, needs, and savings. The latter will also help you pay off debt if you have any.
But is it possible to cover all these categories with your current salary? With smart strategies, it is! But it does take some practice, time, and effort.
For example, you’ll need to learn to use spreadsheets to draw up a cell phone plans comparison chart or spend time online researching all your budgeting options. Selecting the right plan is crucial, especially for those families whose mobile internet usage is high. Being more organized is often the key to managing your finances, almost as much as the need to be bringing in enough money in the first place.
Understanding the different categories can help you budget better going forward.
Note: certain items may overlap, or their categorization depends on your situation. For example, a car is a luxury (want) for someone with access to public transport but a necessity (need) when living in a more rural area.
In general, you can’t do without buying the following for your family, so this must be on your budget:
- Food, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, and grains. Exclude items such as expensive meats or sweets, and save that for the wants list.
- Toiletries and household cleaning items.
- General maintenance for the home and garden, including the replacement parts and appliances that may be necessary every few years. A smart approach is setting aside a little each month for this purpose.
- Utilities and taxes.
- Medication and healthcare.
- Rent or house payments.
- Transport, whether public or the running costs of your own car.
- The family’s necessary services and appliances, such as phones, mobile contracts, and school fees.
- Clothing for school and office.
These are items that are not an essential requirement for survival but that you wouldn’t really like to do without. They can include luxuries or expensive items but can be as basic as chocolate or takeaway coffee.
As mentioned, certain wants and needs can overlap or change categories from time to time. When you realize your family needs a break after a difficult year, a holiday away may become a need rather than a want.
Some examples of wants that most families have:
- Entertainment events or subscriptions
- Eating at a restaurant
- Clothing that you want but don’t really need
- Gym contract
- A second car if it’s not vital to keeping a job
- A fancier car while your current one is still in good condition
- Buying a house if you already rent or own one
Although not vital to survival, wants do carry importance because many of them affect your quality of life, health, and mental well-being.
Paying debts and saving
Responsible budgeting requires you to put aside money for emergencies and unforeseen expenses. Whatever you budget for this category should also help pay off your debt, such as what you owe on a credit card.
How to budget and save
Looking at your salary, it may seem impossible to cover all these categories, but smart accounting will get you there.
For starters, experts suggest allocating a percentage of your income to each category:
- 50% to wants
- 30% to needs
- 20% to savings and covering debt
Work out the amounts and compare them with what you’re currently spending on each category. To help you cover it all, try these tips:
- Can you cut back on the cost of needs? This is where it becomes necessary to get quotes and compare prices of items and service providers. Ensure you pay the lowest possible amount for each expense.
- Find creative ways to still enjoy your wants without breaking the budget. You can head to the golf course once instead of twice each month or schedule dining out for the end of the month as a special occasion rather than every Friday night.
- Set aside the money allocated for saving as soon as you get your salary so you’re not tempted to use it during the month.
- If you can’t set aside 20% for savings at the moment, start with 2% or 5% while you learn to work better with your money.
A few small adjustments can free up the necessary cash that enables you to enjoy your money optimally. Try the 50/30/20 rule, and you can prevent overspending and have some left over for your savings.