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The Family Budget

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

7 Reasons why you need to have a Family Budget and how it can help your family life be more balanced and reduce stress.

The Family Budget - does the word scare you or empower you? Does it bring back memories of trying to start a budget and not being able to stick with it? Maybe it brings back the thought of an argument between you and your wife or significant other. Money can be a very stressful topic, ESPECIALLY if you are barely making ends meet. Let's look at some reasons why having and maintaining one can be a great thing for your family.

1. Fun Money Vs. Bills

We all wish that we didn't have any bills and we could just spend our on money on fish tanks, video games, sports, concerts, cars or whatever you'd like to spend it on. Unfortunately thats not how life works. We have to pay bills. Every month, some company is expecting your money for some essential good or service that you need to live. When you set up a budget, you have a much better idea of how much they will come knocking for and how much you can designate to other things that are way more fun.

2. Preparing for the Unexpected

As men it would be nice if all of our extra money could be used to buy something fun. Cars, video games, TVs, sports tickets, vacations with our wives or girlfriends. I could go on and on forever listing stuff I'd love to go buy. But let's face it, stuff happens. It sucks. Water heaters go out, roofs need to be replaced, vehicles break down and/or wear parts need to be replaced. Do you want to spend your money on rotors and brake pads? I sure don't, but do you know what I DO want? I do want my family to be safe when we are traveling, thus when these repairs are needed, I don't put them off.

When the unexpected happens, it can instantly drain the checking account dry. It may cause stress, anxiety, and uncertainty very easily. It can end up costing a significant amount of money MORE than what the bill says. If you put that purchase on a credit cards, that's exactly what you've just done. This is one of the many reasons that creating, using and maintaining a family budget can really help. If money is set aside each month for these types of expenses that YOU KNOW WILL HAPPEN, then you may find yourself more prepared. Avoid the credit card debt, avoid the stress and think to the future. If you have $1000 put away for something that you know will eventually break, then you won't have to worry nearly as much. But what if something unexpected costs $1300? Well then you ALREADY have $1000 of it and it is much easier to come up with remaining $300 than it is the full $1300.

3. Guilt Free Spending

Have you ever won several hundred dollars? Yeah me neither. But I can imagine how cool it would be to get a small chunk of money to do whatever you want with. You can take that money and spend it on anything. You didn't have to work for it and you have it. Why not spend it. Go buy that power tool or that smart speaker. That feeling of guilt free spending is amazing. You don't have to be given or win a bunch of money to feel it. If you are tracking your spending and know what your money goes towards, you can spend that money knowing that it was budgeted for that expense.

4. Living Debt Free

Using a budget can help ensure that you are not spending money that you don't have, thus incurring debt. Carrying debt can be a huge strain on both your finances and your relationships. Remember when you took the family to the beach? Remember all that crap you had to carry with you? I'm talking about the cooler, the chairs, the umbrella, the bag of towels and sunscreen, the toys, the floaties, the speaker, the snacks, etc. I don't know about you, but I end up carrying a good amount of stuff despite having a wagon. All that "stuff" is equivalent to what debt is to your financial life. It slows you down, you get tired, It makes it harder to function. Get rid of debt as fast as you possibly can!

5. Long Term Goals

If you create a budget and follow a plan, then it is it much easier to be able to meet long term goals. What is a long term goal you ask?

  • Buying that summer home or boat.

  • Going on that fun vacation.

  • finishing the basement, or better yet making the basement the Man Cave you've always dreamed of.

  • putting in a home theater room for the family.

  • That nice new laptop or TV.

There are all kinds of things that we can do or invest in, but unless you plan and are deliberate, there is a good chance you're gonna spend that money on something really really dumb. For example, one of the many "Pooping Dog" calendars that can be found on the internet or a rubber chicken slingshot. Without a plan or a budget, you're doomed.

6. Comfortable Retirement

We all want to retire someday, hopefully with enough money to ENJOY our retirement. If you are 75 or 80 years old and still working to be able to pay the bills, you will likely be miserable. If you are that same age and choose to work a part time job because you want to stay active and you enjoy the work, then I'd argue it's not really work, It's more of a hobby. Using a budget can help plan for retirement. You can't wait until you are 50 to decide to start looking at retirement. Look at it NOW. I don't care if you are 22 or 42. If you're not thinking about and saving for retirement, then you should get on that. This isn't that term paper in college that you waiting to write until 2 days before it was due. It doesn't just come and go that quickly. It is a lifelong process and goal. If you work for a company that offers a 401k and you are not contributing, that can be your first step. If your company has a match program, then I would contribute up to the match. You'll thank yourself later.

7. Improved Technology

My budget started over 10 years ago and was on an excel spreadsheet. It wasn't perfect and required a lot of manual entry. I tried many different platforms for budgeting. Every few years I would look around to see what else was out there. Over the past 10 years the software options have become much better with family budgeting. If you've had a budget it the past and were unable to stick to it, I'd encourage you to explore the software options that are now available. Most of them are now available as a smartphone app thus you can check it on the go. Many now offer graphs and the ability to import transactions directly from most major banks. For me the mobile technology was the game changer. Having real time data in your pocket and the ability to adjust on the fly has been awesome. Budgeting in this fast paced complex world has never been easier with the tools we now have available. If you have been on and off the budget train and are currently sitting at the station, jump back on!

Bottom Line

As a dad you owe it to yourself and your family to keep the order in your compound. That includes all kinds of responsibilities that we never had when we were playing with transformers, GIJOES, and Ninja Turtles. If you don't have a budget, I've given you many reason why it's time to step up and take it on. Utilize the improved technologies that we have and don't give up! Go out there and start making it happen! Once you have it taken care of you can go back to watching You Tube fail videos and trying to find the best pooping dog calendar.

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1 Comment

There is a lot of great advice here!

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