Having a family budget means, for some people, whipping out the calculator at every purchase, or viewing the budget on their mobile device in the grocery store. For others, a family budget is just a formality and they never really glance at it. Between these extremes are those who sort of use their family budget with moments of obsessive adherence, or those who try but give up altogether because they go crazy trying to keep track of all the details.
Where’s the balance? How can you maintain a healthy outlook without obsessing or ignoring your family budget?
Here are some tips on how you can cultivate a healthy outlook regarding your family budget.
For those who tend to err on the obsessive side, it is a good idea to remember to be flexible with your budget. Of course, flexibility does not mean ignoring your parameters. But it does mean you can take a little from one area and cut back in another when necessary.
Get Your Family On Board
Nothing can make you frustrated with a budget like lack of family participation. Family members might just rack up expenses without giving the budget a second thought, leaving you to tear your hair out trying to balance it and cover the expenses. If the whole family is included and on board with the budget, it can improve everyone’s outlook.
You Don’t Have to Keep Track of Every Penny
Some people avoid a budget because they don’t want the stress of keeping track of every cent spent. They’re right – that is stressful. But it’s not the only way. Look into budgeting in a general way, or simply work out a list of expenses, income, and how much you have in the bank right now.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your budget, and customize it for your family’s needs. Your outlook is likely to be a lot healthier if your budget is suited for your income, expenses, and personality. Your family dynamic should be taken into consideration when you form your budget.
Forgive Yourself and Family Members
Everyone makes mistakes and breaks the budget now and then. Beating yourself up over a budget mess-up is not conducive to a healthy outlook, and neither is nagging and punishing family members. If it’s a chronic “mistake,” it may need to be addressed in a civil family meeting. But to keep a healthy outlook, let the minor offenses go.
Know When It’s a Real Emergency
What constitutes an “emergency” can differ between family members. Dipping into the emergency fund for non-emergency expenses can deplete the money pretty fast. Make sure everyone knows what a real financial emergency looks like for your family.