Thursday, July 7, 2011

household management (4) finances

No budget can change your motivations and choices - only the gospel can do that! - but it can help you manage your spending. Here's some things that have helped me, and other things I haven't done very well, and wish I'd been aware of years ago. With thanks to Bec, Deb, Fiona, Valori and RodeoClown.

  • Keep track of your spending in a budget - but do it for a reason, not just for the sake of it. Sometimes I've found a budget to be a useful tool; at other times it's been a time-waster. Use a budget to become familiar with your spending patterns so you can plan more carefully, if money is disappearing and you can't work out where, or if it helps you tighten up your spending.

  • When you're paid, before you spend anything:
    • give money away - if they gave 10% in the Old Testament, how much more will the fullness of God's grace motivate us now!
    • pay what you owe - come up with a plan and pay back a small amount each week
    • pay regular, unavoidable expenses - housing, rates, car servicing, insurance, utility bills, and so on (I like Deb's idea of putting money for bills into a separate account the instant you get paid)
    • save - put some money in a separate savings account (you'll draw on this for house repairs or unexpected medical bills)
    Once you've done this, set aside a certain amount for household expenses (my friend puts this into a household account at the start of each week). You'll find you have two main kinds of household expenses:
    • regular expenses (grocery shopping, petrol, entertainment etc.)
    • occasional expenses (gifts, clothes, household items etc.)
    You might choose to include both types of expenses in your household account, which will mean some careful setting aside of money for occasional expenses; or you might take the occasional expenses (e.g. bi-yearly clothes shop or Christmas gift shopping) out of your savings so you can stay in control and see how much they're costing you. Do whichever helps you spend less.

  • Only use a credit card if you pay it off in full each month (we do, mostly, but it means careful spending). Even better, follow my mum's advice (from a more careful time): only spend money you have. And that's after she's put some in the savings account.

  • If you want to work on managing or saving money, try Simple Savings or You Need a Budget.

  • How do you manage your money? Share your ideas here.

    I'm aware I've only scratched the surface when it comes to money and budgeting, and I'm no expert. Check out the comments here for more ideas. To read about my struggles with over-spending, see these posts.

    Follow this series here.

    image is by Aunty Cookie (very appropriate!) from flickr

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