Tips for Family Budget

Tracking your spending pattern is important to prevent financial trouble

by BusyMumHacks


What do you feel when reading the word?

Make note of that feeling because it is a valid response. It may determine if your budgeting task will be successful.

Budgeting in simple terms is one of the money management. It is an estimation of revenue and expenses over a specified future period. It is compiled and re-evaluated periodically.

Do you feel a bit better after reading the simple term definition of budgeting or it got worsen?

I don’t blame you especially if previously, all the finances at home were done by your other half and now as an independent mum, one needs to learn and soon must master it.

In a much simpler definition, it is an act of writing down revenue and main expenses to come up with leftover money to spend more or to re-invest. The budget can be adjusted according to your circumstances in a specific period time of the year.

Budgeting comes naturally as part of my professional life. I use a spreadsheet almost daily. 

I can hear your scream or even curse.

It was budgeting, money-management now spreadsheet.  

The more intimate you are with your current spending pattern; you are in a better position to understand where you can save and cut unnecessary spending.

However, the opposite is also true if you can’t cut your spending then you need to think about how to increase your income to cover your spending. A lot of people are spending more than their earnings and got into financial trouble.

In the current inflation climate with all the costs going up, it makes it hard for a lot of people to meet their basic needs or just to stay above the water.

Budgeting can be learned, and you can correct your spending pattern.

For tracking your spending, you can use a spreadsheet or budget journal or budget app.

For the last six months, I followed the barefoot investor method by Scott Pape with a high-level summary as follows:

I work full-time so I have a stable income every fortnight. This method is easier to follow based on the current circumstance. I set up the recurring transfer from the main account to the other 3 accounts.  

The method is completely dismissing credit card usage. I still use my credit card for collecting points which can either be converted to the payment of a credit card, buying a gift card or purchasing the desired item with the points.

I pay off the credit card balance before the due date to avoid the interest on purchases therefore I am comfortable using a credit card.  

Weekly, I use the following method :

1. Planning weekly meal

By planning a weekly meal, it means groceries shopping can be bought in bulk. Since Covid hit, I have been trying to get my groceries done on Friday, not on the weekend. 

I love my two doors fridge because it can freeze some homemade meals and can be defrosted on a rainy day when I don’t feel like cooking. My cook-up day is Sunday for at least three days. The meal consists of dinner and lunch for a small family of two. We eat meat-free food once a week. We do takeaway on Friday night and random treats on the weekend.

I buy meat in bulk and repack it individually in the freezer to serving size so it can be defrosted appropriately too.  

2. Shopping in your house before heading out to the shop

I learn that a mother’s brain can note mentally on stocks around the house such as toilet paper, cooking oil, and cleaning products. I suggest checking anyway and making a shopping list before heading out for shopping.

For not-so-frequently used items such as spices, it is easier to just grab a spice jar or packet in the supermarket aisle than to find out at home that you already have them in the pantry somewhere. 

I have done this many times so now I stop going to the spice aisle altogether unless necessary and buy a refill at the Weigh and Bulk Store, so you only buy ingredients not the container. 

It is a lot cheaper, and don’t end up having huge spice jars collections that are only used once in a blue moon.

3. Shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables

They are a lot cheaper especially if they are locally grown. It is not only good for your wallet, but you also support the local business to thrive for the circular economy.

4. Maximising sale time

Before covid and before my little one attended school, I used to go out shopping during sale time to buy his need. I also used the time to mindlessly escape things that I don’t want to think about. I bought clothes that he can wear when he grows bigger. Moreover, I bought kids presents more than once, so I don’t have to think about getting presents every time we got birthday invitations. This is given the situation that you have spare funds and storage in the house. These days, I rarely go to the shop unless the clothes are getting smaller or changing season. I hardly buy toys because we have a toy library membership, and he will somehow receive them from family and friends on special occasions. I prefer that family and friends not buy a toy unless it is educational.

5. Buying things you need

With the variety in the shop these days, it is easier to get caught buying things you don’t need. Brick stores or online stores are equally dangerous. The initial intention is to buy one thing but end up buying more than what you need. Luckily, there is such a thing as a refund within 30 days in Australia. If time is poor to decide on the shop while having kids, I usually just buy first and then return it as soon as possible when my mind is more settled at home if I am going to keep it or return it.  Use marketplace to buy some things that are more tangible such as storage for play room or study room.

6. Buying vouchers, and gift cards with discounts

There are many ways to get bucks for your money. 

I buy a gift card through Shopback or RAC car insurance shop or a local deal from Groupon. You’d be surprised at how much you could save just by taking one step extra before purchasing.  

You got this mum!

Take one step at a time to take control of your money management.

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