A budget should make provision for the here and now, but also include room for future goals like retirement or education. How well you manage your money and payments now will determine your future financial well being. It helps if families can instil some sound principles in their children from an early age. If everyone can contribute and benefit, it is more likely that the whole family will be to attain their financial goals. It all starts with drawing up a budget. Here’s how you can get started:
- The best way to do this is to sit around a table and get all the family members to think about their monthly expenses. Make it a fun exercise. For the kids, this could include things like stationery, school trips, sports equipment, school lunches, tuckshop money and outings.
- For the adults, remember to include quarterly and annual expenses as well as daily cash spending. Include any policies such as retirement annuities, disability funds, medical aids and so on. Lastly, make a list of all your debt repayments.
- Once a list of expenses has been drawn up, start working on an income list. Use current figures from your latest payslips and bank statements. Remember to include any additional income that you will be receiving, for example, grants, incentives, bonuses or part time income, etc. Only add the additional income to your budget when you are sure of the exact amount that you will be receiving.
- Kids should also think about what income they receive. “This could include pocket money, monetary gifts, cash received from doing chores and so on. Teach them how to add up their income and then speak to them about what they would like to spend it on. It’s a great opportunity to encourage saving and the concept of financial goal setting as they may need to save up for a special new toy or a fun activity.
- Take your expenses and debt repayments and deduct these from your income to get an idea of what you have left over at the end of the month or if there is a shortfall. If you have a shortfall on your budget, in other words, you don't have money left at the end of the month, cut back on luxury items that you don't need. If you have additional income, use it to try and pay off debt. Start with the credit with highest interest rate.
- Financial goal setting is then the next step. “Make a list of your short- and long-term goals, and know what they are. Think about things like growing your family, education, planning for holidays, savings needs, upgrading your assets and standard of living, as well as retirement and funeral cover needs. Goal setting can only be successful if you understand how to set your goals and then how to achieve them.
- Remember to reward yourself when you see improvements and good financial behaviors.
Celebrate as a family when goals are achieved. This should include the smallest goals, such as saving up enough pocket money to buy a new bike, as well as much bigger goals like paying off your home loan. It’s a great way to bring the family together and to share financial responsibility. So don’t wait, get a budget going and start making your family financial goals a reality.