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Create Your Family's Monthly Budget

Being the manager of a family can be hard enough, but when you've got to take care of kids and a household, it can be like trying to scale a mountain by yourself. If you want to have more control over your household and how it runs, then you'll need to be responsible for its budget.

Here's how you can get started.

1. Consider your income. First, calculate how much income your household makes after taxes, including any income contributed by your spouse or money earned from a side job. To get a sense of how much money you have to spend each month, take your total annual income and divide by 12. If you're not sure about the exact figure, then choose a low estimate to conserve your spending.

2. Examine all family expenses. Once you've established where the money comes into your household, you need to examine where it's going. Look at every cost your family incurs, from clothes shopping to groceries to haircuts and doctor's visits. Include any debts that you're paying off and any money you might be regularly giving to charity.

3. Mark down every regular monthly cost. When you have a house and a family to manage, you'll also have regular expenses. This includes utilities like electricity and water, insurance payments, mortgage or rent payments, and your average cost of buying groceries. These should be the first items you set down on your budget, so that you can cover them as quickly as possible with your income.

4. Set aside an amount for unexpected costs. Obviously, any non-essential money for the month should go into savings or a retirement plan. But not every cost can be accounted for on a monthly basis. Consider the possibility that you might spend a little more on shopping (like around the holidays) or you want to treat the kids to dinner and a movie one weekend. Having some money set aside for additional spending will keep you from fretting over every single expense you rack up.

5. Split up your spreadsheet into projected and actual expenses. When you're preparing your spreadsheet, you should have a list of every utility, grocery bill, and mortgage payment you need to cover for the month. To keep better track of your spending, why not split up the list between your projected costs and what you've actually paid? When you compare it with your monthly income (which can also fluctuate), you'll have a better sense of how to adjust your spending.

6. Give the family access and input on the budget. The more your family is aware of how much they can afford month by month, the better off your household will be. It doesn't do the family much good if only the person who creates and tracks the monthly budget is the one who actually knows how much money they have to spend and save.


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