Contrary to popular belief, keeping a household budget is more than just about earning ends meet. To manage your home budget, you don’t need to be strong at arithmetic; instead, you need to be savvy about your spending patterns.
- You should also set aside a portion of your entire income for an emergency fund and debt repayment (if you have any).
Times have been tough for everyone lately. It is especially true for single-income families and people desperately trying to make ends meet.
- Many families had family members going through unemployment because of unexpectedly losing a job.
- On the other hand, many intentionally choose to be a one-income family because it is the best decision for their family’s well-being despite the financial challenges.
- There can be many reasons but making ends meet on a single income isn’t easy.
It can either be you or have relatives or friends who belong to one of these families. You must look at these tips to help keep single-earner households in good financial standing.
- Suppose you do not want your family to be living paycheck to paycheck all of the time.
- In that case, there are a few basic things you can do to improve your financial situation.
Although maintaining one’s home budget can be difficult, there is always a way, especially in these difficult times. Here’s how you can do it with just a few simple steps:
Why do Household Budgeting?
Someone responsible with their money enjoys calmness and understands how to:
- They must cover their living expenditures.
- Keep your debts under control.
- Set aside money for the luxuries that make life more joyful.
- Avoid worrying about money all of the time.
It’s not about how much money you have; it’s about what you do with it. There is no magic solution for finding additional money in proper money management. Simply put, it means making the most of the money you have.
- Before you continue reading, take a quick assessment of your existing money management abilities.
- Consider how much effort you spend on managing your finances.
- Do you maintain track of your spending daily, weekly, or monthly?
- How many times have you regretted investing a large sum of money in someone or something who will provide you with little benefit?
- Answer the following questions honestly, based on your current activities.
You don’t have to tell anyone about your answers; they’re only there to help you figure out how you can improve your money management skills.
Try these budgeting strategies to ensure that you control your money, rather than vice versa, if you’re living on the financial edge:
Be friends with your calendar
You must start organizing your money according to time.
- It doesn’t matter whether you use a web-based calendar, the kitten-themed calendar you got for Christmas, or the calendar on your phone.
- Record when bills are due, when you receive your paycheck, and when any automatic payments are made. It can help you find the thin spots in your finances during the month.
After that, you can often request changes to due dates to ensure that you have the money when you need it.
Track your spending each month
It can be not easy initially, but in reality, it is effortless. Whether you go low-tech with notebook and pen in hand or high-tech using your smartphone or a free money-tracking program on the internet.
- Record every single cent that you spend for an entire month.
- A month of tracking will give you a clear idea of where your money goes.
Another positive side of tracking your spending is that it will provide you with a moment to think about your purchase before you even make them.
You’ll know what to cut out of your monthly expenditures to get back to living within your means once you understand why there’s too much month left at the end of your money. Some cost-cutting will be straightforward.
- You can cut on snacks and restaurant meals in favor of cooking at home.
- Insurance costs are more convenient by raising your deductibles.
You must also chop services you don’t use—as an extra data plan on your phone or that gym membership. You can even lower your utility payments by ensuring you switch off lights and unplug power eaters, for example.
Start planning to save now.
A vital part of being financially healthy is plotting a path to save money even if you don’t have the spare change right now. That way, you can begin adding to savings as you don’t run out of a paycheck.
Enhance your income
Suppose you still have trouble making ends meet, even after cutting your spending to the bone. In that case, it’s probably time to consider other sources of income.
- That could mean starting a side hustle, asking for overtime at work, selling off some of your possessions, or looking for a more profitable job.
- You need to be mindful of your spending and income if you want to live within your means.
Otherwise, it’s not possible to get off the vicious circle of living from one paycheck to the other.
Determine the total amount of money and assets you and your partner bring to the table.
Calculate the amount of existing debt you each have on a separate list. Whether your salaries are close or vastly different, decide whether to combine your funds or keep your multiple banks, savings, and line of credit account separate.
Decide the amount you should keep this year or next by setting a deadline for your objective to become a reality.
Completing education, acquiring a home, purchasing a new automobile, starting your enterprise, taking a trip, or saving money to have a family are examples of these goals.
- Make your savings plan enjoyable, in addition to routinely contributing to an impenetrable savings account at a local bank.
Keep a piggy bank nearby and then use it to pay “financial penalties” for forgetful behaviors or behaviors you’re each trying to overcome.
Write the due dates of all your invoices on a master calendar, including the initials of the person who is responsible for paying them.
Set up an online banking account where possible so that funds are automatically debited from your personal or shared household checking account while writing and mailing a check.
Meet with your honey weekly or quarterly to discuss your progress in handling the household budget, generating savings, and reducing debt.
Consider your first paycheck – whether it was from a paper route, childcare, or part-time work.
- Did you get any instructions on it?
- Instructions appear to be included with even the most essential devices these days.
- Still, we’re left to figure it out on our own when it comes to something as vital as our paychecks. Nobody is born with the ability to manage money.
We are supposed to handle our cash correctly by reaching adulthood, but few are taught how.
- As a result, many people suffer the typical emotions associated with not knowing how to perform something successfully.
Writing things down on paper or in an electronic spreadsheet is the key to making a solid household budget. Making a home budget worksheet, as monotonous and repetitive as it may seem to some, will not only help you to manage your money. But also enhance your finances by allowing you to track your spending.
9 Ways to Optimize Household Budgets
1. Compute Total Income
Make a list of your overall revenue to understand your financial status better.
- The first step in creating a household budget spreadsheet is to jot down your entire income at the top.
- It should be the monthly income you and your spouse earn.
- Write down the typical monthly salary or an approximation of the amount you expect to get if the source of income isn’t permanent and the amount varies each month.
- Self-employed people are subject to the same rules.
Nevertheless, if you are generating some extra money on the side and bringing in a consistent amount each month, don’t factor it in. Instead, put that money in a savings account or make a small investment.
2. Emergency Savings Fund
It’s critical to lay aside some funds for a rainy day.
- If you have any money left over after deducting your monthly costs, make sure to place aside at least 10% to 30% of your net income for an emergency fund.
According to most financial experts, an ideal emergency fund should be worth three months of overall revenue.
- The simplest and most successful method is to create a savings account at your local bank.
The money could be used in an emergency, such as a flat tire that needs to be changed right away or something more catastrophic. Because not everyone can save a significant sum of money, make it a habit to keep at minimum a few hundred bucks each month of your household budget.
3. Change Your Spending Habits
You can’t create a household budget unless you change your spending patterns.
- You should set aside money for unexpected or unplanned expenses in addition to anticipated ones.
- If a friend gets married or if someone invites you to a housewarming party, you’ll need money on hand.
- Choose less luxury and more valuable present goods if your net income isn’t too high.
When you’re exhausted, make something simple to save time instead of ordering takeout.
- Also, change your spending habits.
- Take a step back and re-evaluate your actions if you frequently dine out or like to spend money on particular wants.
Many DIY tutorials accessible on the internet can help you save a great deal of money on home remodeling and other projects.
4. Do not Overuse Your Credit Card.
You should only use your credit card in an emergency.
- Only use your credit card in an emergency — and no, a clearance discount on your favorite brand is not an emergency.
- Give your credit card to someone more responsible if you are an impulsive shopper.
- Make sure you don’t order anything online because shipping and other taxes might frequently cost twice as much as you anticipated.
Don’t use your credit card for unnecessary expenses. If you run out of cash at the end of the month, it signifies you’ve exceeded your household budget. You’ll have to subtract that amount, plus interest, from your net income the next month.
5. Handle High-Interest Debt First
You must tackle your debt head-on if you want to start saving more.
- Particularly high-interest rates from credit cards, or personal loans, because they compel you to pay excessive interest fees.
- You require an attainable yet challenging plan to pay off your debt.
- Begin by prioritizing debt and paying off the ones with the highest interest first.
As you move forward, avoid hoarding any more high-interest debt, especially credit cards.
6. Reduce Your Biggest Expenses
It can be challenging to save money with a low income. Sometimes it might also feel impossible to reduce even a single dollar every month.
- There are many usual money-saving ideas like canceling your cable bill and cooking meals at home.
- And other similar things that you can do to save money.
However, focus on cutting down the more significant expenses instead of the small ones so that you can make a considerable impact.
- For many people, housing costs are a significant part of their expenses.
- Consider living with roommates or downsizing to a smaller home if you’re renting.
- If you own a place, understanding whether or not refinancing your mortgage for a lower rate would be beneficial.
- You can also rent out a parking spot or a room for additional income.
- Also, refinancing means you will get a reduced monthly payment, but it will also extend the loan term.
You must be comfortable that it will take you much longer to pay off the loan if this is the option you choose.
- It would be best if you also shopped around for the best deal, as many people will willingly help you get a refinance and charge lesser than others for the services.
- It would help cut out the small stuff with recurring costs like a cable TV bill or an APP subscription.
It will take only minimal effort for a sizable amount of benefit to do so.
7. Take Benefit of Free Money
Whenever you can, always take advantage of “free money.”
- You can easily qualify for the earned income tax credit (EITC) as a family with a low income.
- The EITC can help you keep more of what you made and give a significant refund on your taxes.
The company match is free money that can help you save for your retirement.
- You should see if your company matches up to a certain percentage of your contribution along with the 401K at work.
If they do, you must benefit from it and start saving as much money as possible.
8. Keep a Lean Budget
It would be best to control how much you spend to save more.
- It’s not strictly impossible, but you’ll have to make some sacrifices.
- Just focus on spending in moderation.
Select the categories you want to indulge in and keep the remaining of your budget as lean as possible.
9. Establish a Side Hustle
Suppose you cannot cut costs any further. In that case, it’s good to diversify your income by creating a side hustle for earning some extra money.
- You can get a side job to provide another income source, apart from your full-time job.
- You can do most side hustles right from the comfort of your home in your free time.
- Think about your hobbies, what you are good at doing, and what kind of money you can earn from it, like data entry, freelance writing, and graphic design.
When you make minimum wage, saving money can certainly be challenging, but you can do it.
- It’s essential to get your priorities straight and make a values-based saving and spending plan.
Once you do, you’ll be savvier and smarter with how you spend money and, eventually, be able to save more.
Most of us desire to save money to make plans for the future and create wealth.
- We want to buy things like a big home or a bigger vehicle, and we want to reach goals.
- However, all these may seem impossible when you’re living on a low income.
- Many average households are living paycheck to paycheck.
- Saving any amount can be the last priority on your list when money is tight and you’re just trying to get by the month each time.
It’s essential to think about the now and the future when dealing with financial matters and subsequent mental well-being. You can still save little by little, even if you’re earning a minimum wage.