It can be a challenge to live on a budget when you have a large family, but it can be done. All it takes is careful planning and being aware of where your money goes. The starting point is to gather all of your bank statements, monthly expenses and income together and get those numbers down on paper so you can have a thorough understanding of how much you are spending frivolously, and where you can save.
Here are a few tips to assist you in managing your money better:
Pay yourself before all else
Arrange for a small amount (somewhere around the $25 range is enough to make a difference) to be transferred to a separate account each pay period. It is easy to adjust your spending so that you do not miss a small amount like this, but it will help your savings in a short period of time.
Pay for all small purchases with cash, not credit card or a debit card
A lot of people use plastic to pay for coffee, gum, a sandwich, and other small items. Instead of using plastic, take out a small amount for the week to pay for these items so that you don’t incur the Interac charges on your plastic. Additionally, seeing how much you’re spending as your cash fades away throughout the week will make you more mindful of exactly how much you’re spending.
Pay with bills and save your change and when you have a large amount of change, deposit it to your savings account. The kids might even enjoy rolling up your coins for you!
Save on utility bills by turning lights off when you leave a room and use energy efficient bulbsand fixtures
Use a single power bar to plug in all of your electronics. You can turn the power bar off entirely when those items are not being used. Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load and check your utility bill because cheaper hydro rates are often between 7pm and 7am or on weekends. Purchase energy efficient appliances and if yours are old, consider buying new ones. Although this seems like a large investment, the amount of money you will save over time will make a large difference in your overall savings plan.
Lastly, consider having an energy audit done so you can see what your biggest expenses are. An energy audit will give you an idea on renovations that need to be completed.
Eat all meals at home
Plan ahead when possible, and shop once per week with a shopping list so you don’t indulge in unneeded purchases. Use time on the weekend to prepare food ahead of time and get the whole family involved in critical tasks so that your preparation is entirely successful.
The occasional meal out or take out that you bring home is still part of a balanced budget, but it should not be a habit.
Create a budget and stay with it
It can be hard to cut costs, but you need to find out where you spend the most money and find out where you can save some cash. Take your daily coffee, your weekly movie, or your monthly night out and replace them with cheaper, more manageable alternatives whenever possible.
Comparison shop to find the best deals on everything
You can do your research from home instead of spending time driving around and wasting gas to find those deals. Call a variety of providers for cable or satellite or mobile phone to see what kinds of packages or deals are offered and then call other companies to see if they can give you a better deal, or shop online for the new printer you need so you can find a retailer who currently has one on sale.
A budget is important because it is a spending plan that ensures that you are living within your income and that you can save money for the future. When you have money set aside it can help you to meet emergencies and make unexpected purchases when they are needed. Knowing that you are ready for the unexpected can give you and your family peace of mind.