The Flexible Family Budget: Adjusting Spending Habits as Your Children Grow
If you are raising a family you won’t need to be told how expensive it can be, with seemingly constant demands on your cash for the various things they need and activities they want to do. Their needs change as they get older and your family budget needs to reflect that fact and keep pace with the changes. Here is a look at how to adjust your family budget and plan for future needs. There are some tips on how to slash monthly costs, plus a sensible and necessary suggestion to try and predict future financial requirements.
In it for the long haul
It goes without saying that having children is a long-term commitment that requires an element of planning and a budget that can sometimes feel like it is being stretched beyond your financial means. If you are going to cope with the financial roller coaster that accompanies the joy of having kids, you will need to be able to balance your income to meet changing needs and also make some plans that look further ahead. If you are looking for good news at this point, take comfort from the fact that economies of scale come into play at some point, which means that adding more children to the equation often results in the second and third child costing less to raise on average, although it probably doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time.
You have to be savvy with your money and take advantage of opportunities to earn rewards points by using a Chase sapphire reserve card, for example, which you could use towards the total cost of a family holiday. This is just one example, and there are plenty of other tips to help make your money go further.
Cut down on expenses, but not on fun
If you manage to stay on top of your finances and regularly review your budget and the deals you are on with things like cable and utilities, there is a good chance that you could keep within your budget without sacrificing some of the fun things you enjoy as a family.
Dining out: Going out for a family meal is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to relax together and talk about things. It can also be expensive if you dine out often and don’t watch how much it is costing. Look for family-friendly options such as restaurants offering a kids eat free deal or half-price if you dine before a certain time. Whatever the deal is, if it saves you money and keeps the cost down, it should help your budget stretch further.
Check your cable deal: One of the most common ways to cut a family budget is to get a better cable deal than the one you currently have or find a cheaper alternative that allows you to cut the cable. A good way to make sure you don’t miss out on what you all enjoy watching would be to check what your viewing habits are for a week or two, then get a package that is cheaper but still gives you what you want. Another alternative would be to see if you can get what you want with a streaming service like Netflix, so you can slash the cost of your viewing by pulling the plug on cable.
Check your cell phone charges: Kids tend to have an increasing attachment to their cell phone as they get older, and by the time they are in middle school and beyond you could be financing some serious monthly usage charges. It is far too easy to sleepwalk into renewing your existing contract and accepting each upgrade offered to you, but you could be paying a lot more each month than you need to. The cell phone market has never been more competitive than it is now, so you should be able to find a better deal. The savings could be substantial when you add up your monthly cell costs, and that could make a big difference to your monthly family budget.
Obvious advice, but you need to try and have a savings strategy which gives you some emergency funds when you need them and starts to take care of future needs like a college education. If you are proactive and constantly reviewing and adjusting your monthly expenses, you should be able to find some spare cash out of the budget to invest for your family’s future. Raising a family is almost always going to stretch your finances, but there are plenty of ways to keep the budget under control, while still having plenty of fun together.
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