I think quite often, and I am speaking to myself here as well, we get stuck in a rut that says “this is how it looks like for this family and yet that is not how my family dynamics work so I cannot use this method (or tip or whatever the case may be),” without looking at the end goal. The end goal of any money-saving tip– the bottom line, should be whatever financial decision you make for you and your family, needs to stay within your budget and keeps you in the black. You cannot have a budget that exceeds your income. That puts you in the red.
It is highly important to figure out what your goal is for your family. Call it a mission statement; call it a goal; call it a budget, whatever you choose, it needs to reflect where your family’s heart lies. And by that I mean, when you make a budget, when you meal plan, when you do all these money-saving ideas and tips, they have to work with your family. If you decide that your only have an allotment of twenty-dollars for entertainment but you are a very out-going family that does a lot of activities, community service, and all these other things, you are going to find that quite often you are short of funds and will assume that budgets do not work for you and your family. However, if you assess how your lifestyle works then you can plan and budget around that.
If you are a very busy family that is constantly on the go and doing a lot of take-out meals and all this kind of stuff because you are never home to prepare meals and all these other “money-saving ideas,” just jumping in can burn you out and quickly. Your system has been take-out to fall back on and that system doesn’t change over-night or even with a meal plan without some kind of back up plan and then a back up plan for your back up plan. A good idea would be to see how much your normally spend in a month’s time, how your lifestyle is, where you can realistically cut that back and then can adjust the budget accordingly and set yourself up for success. Meal planning is great. Freezer cooking sessions are great. All these other great ideas are not going to work, they are not going to make you successful if you don’t have any ways to implement them in a way that works for your family dynamics. If you do not have time (in your current schedule) for a cooking session, or have a way to store it in the freezer, or any way to remind yourself to pull it out of the freezer in time to eat it, then it is a waste of money to try and accomplish that.
This doesn’t mean that you are a failure or that it will never work for you, or even that budgets aren’t for you. If your priority is in what your family does rather than how to make that possible, then you will choose the way to go in order to fit your priority (activities, homeschooling, endless choices here). The best way to set yourself up for success is to sit down and prioritize.
- I want my children to attend soccer and ballet and in order for that to happen we need to eat out 3x a week.
- I want to save money on take out so on the days we have activities I need to have a game plan for eating frugally (nutritious) meals.
See how that works?
You need to figure out your family set up; what your goals are for your family, is it to pay of debt, live within your income, use your credit card less, you want to put more into savings, reduce your spending, etc., whatever it is, you need to assess how that is going to look like for your family and then you need to prioritize your family. Is Timmy and Jane going to only do one extra curricular activity? Is it to go on a large family vacation together? Is it to cut down on the choas of life and enjoy being in the moment? Sit that down and write that down– right now!
Go ahead I’ll be here.
Ok, so you did that and now what you need to do is think about your income. What is your income? What does that look like? What does your husband bring? what do you bring? Does it include tax return? DO you have a tax return? Now you need to think about what you spend and be brutally honest because you know what, we spend much more than we think we do. I know this to be true for myself and I try hard to budget frugally and not spend precariously! So, generally speaking, we spend more than we think.
The next step is to figure out where we want to be. Do we want that vacation? To be debt free? To have more financial peace? That house in the country with animals and land?
Now we need to sit down and figure out what are realistic ways we can implement to achieve those goals. Write that down. Figure out what you and your family can do and write that down.
My example for MY family is I decided to try and shop every two-weeks for groceries. Check this post out that I wrote 2 years ago. My how my thoughts have changed since then. I am trying this for 2 reasons: 1 I am trying to save us some money since we had to cut our grocery bill down and 2. I would like to bring that down even more to $25 less than what I budget and I want to put that money into saving every month. Diligently, purposefully, and in every other emphatic way– put that amount into saving so that my mindset changes. I want to discipline myself to be saving in ways that I don’t even think are possible for myself.
It is said that writing things down gives us a mental kick to make it happen. This is why I am stressing to write everything down– NOW! You have your goals written down, you have ways that it can be achieved for your own personal family dynamics, you have your income (money coming in from all angles), you have your expenditures (amounts you have going out– hint, if you are using your credit card because you don’t have the money in the bank for it, then most likely you are spending more than you are earning), and you have written down ways you can implement in your family to achieve those goals. What is left? To actually go and do them.
What do you have to loose?