One of the biggest, most important and, in many cases, most difficult tasks about having a family is controlling expenses. Let’s face it, many single consumers in the United States have a problem controlling their expenses even before they get married and have children and, after they do, it gets worse.
It can be done however and, even better, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Below are number of excellent tips and advice that will help you to get your family expenses under control and keep them there. Enjoy.
One of the first things you need to do is figure out where all your money is going, and the easiest way to do that is to keep a spending diary. Some experts will tell you that you need to do this for a month but, frankly, most people don’t have the diligence to do that, so let’s just say you need to do it for one full week, writing down in your diary every single thing that you spend money on including gasoline, groceries, entertainment, lattes at Starbucks, clothing and everything else.
Most people who do this, and do it correctly, are absolutely shocked at what they find, especially the fact that all of those little purchases really do add up.
Next it’s time to start eliminating the expenses that are unnecessary or frivolous. For example, do you really need a new pair of shoes if you have 30 of them already? Does your child need another new toy, especially if they already have a room full of them that they never use? Do you need that $7 frapuccino from Starbucks every single day, the most expensive cable television plan or the latest smart phone?
You have to answer these questions for yourself, for your spouse and for your kids in order to really get things under control. It might not be easy at first (to say the least), but it could mean a world of difference in terms of your savings account, and emergency fund and retirement accounts too.
One last bit of advice today is to stop relying on credit and debit cards and instead put yourself on a cash allowance. At the beginning of the week simply take out a specific amount of cash and do your best to not spend more than that. Psychologists agree that, when you have actual cash in your hand and see exactly how much you’re spending, you tend to spend much less.