Family money management: tips for staying in control

Once you have a family it becomes more important than ever before to stay in control of your finances. That’s because you have your family’s future to care for as well as your own, plus your expenses go up and the chances are your income goes down!

Here are some steps you can take today to start taking back control of your money:

1. Start tracking your spending. The first step you need to take when taking control of your money is find out how you’re managing your finances. Where does your money come from and where does it go? You may be surprised to learn that how you think it’s being spent is often different than how it is actually spent.

To find out where your money is going, begin tracking it right now. Your tracking system can be as simple as a notebook page with columns, or you may want to get software to help to help. Then write down all the money you spend as soon as you spend it. Don’t let guilt keep you from making entries. This step is meant to help you find out the truth about where your money goes, not judge your spending.

2. Set up a budget.  If you don’t think you can follow a budget, think of it as a spending plan instead. To get your finances on track and start saving, you will need to spend less than you make.  Write down where your money is coming from and on what dates you are paid. Then figure out how much of that money is spent on bills and other necessities. Write down how you will spend the remainder.

This is where you may realise you need to cut out some expenses so you can stay within your budget. Remember to plan ahead and put money aside for large purchases. Your needs will probably change every few months, so review your budget or spending plan regularly.

3. Start saving.  Most of us aren’t accustomed to saving. We spend our money as quickly as we get it. If you can only afford to save a little to begin with that’s fine because it will get you in the saving habit.

4. Put away your credit cards. If you have your credit cards with you when you go shopping, you will probably use them. Eliminate your credit cards as an option by putting them away or even hiding them. If you remove them as a temptation, you’ll force yourself to live within your means by spending only the money in your bank account.

5. Ask your credit card companies for lower fees. Pick up the telephone and ask your credit card companies if they can work out a lower rate for your credit cards. Usually they will try to help you because it hurts both you and the credit card company if your debt goes to collectors. A lower rate means it will cost you less to carry the balance while you pay it off. This is a good tip for many of your bills – ask your electricity, gas and insurance companies if they have a better deal than the one you currently have.

6. Think of ways to earn more money. We often think of money management as cutting expenses, but there are many ways that you can increase your income, too.

You can gain a lot more control over every aspect of your life once you control your finances. By following the above steps, you will be on the way to getting that control.

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