Five Budget Tips for a Family of Five

Today’s families may be shrinking in size, but that doesn’t mean family budgets are going down at all. Today’s family of five has to work within a budget, just like any other family in the past. Having three kids and two adults (or whatever your particular configuration happens to be) means more food, more clothes, more gas and more space.

If your family of five is struggling with a budget, here are five tips that will get you on the road to a balanced budget worksheet:

  1. Save first. You’ve read this a thousand times. You’re supposed to set aside some money every paycheck for emergencies and for the future. Yet, it’s awfully hard to do. When you have a choice of paying the phone bill or putting $100 into a savings account, you almost always go with the phone bill. Most of the time, however, that’s a false choice; there are other areas that can go without. Saving today means not getting into debt and paying even more down the road.
  2. Learn how to reduce costs for consumables. From gasoline cards that give you a fuel discount to frequent shopper cards to coupons, there are literally hundreds of ways to reduce the costs of consumables like food and gas. Study them and use them.
  3. Consider the one car transition. It’s hard for a family of five to get everyone where they need to be with just a single car. School and extracurricular commitments always seem to demand that you be in two places at once. A little planning, some use of carpooling and public transportation, however, can reduce your family budget by the cost of a car payment, plus insurance. Think about it.
  4. Let your kids budget for themselves. Give your kids a stipend, not an allowance. Let them make important choices about buying toothpaste, clothes and extras. You’ll be surprised how many ways they find to save, too.
  5. Stop eating out. Eating out can get expensive with a family of five, especially if your kids are getting older than the “10 and under” menu allows. Cutting back once a week can mean as much as $200 extra every month.

It’s not always easy making ends meet. Sometimes they won’t. But the way to fix the problem isn’t to ignore it; it’s to tackle it, head-on. These tips can help. Give them a try today.

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