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Tag Archives: family budgeting

A Different Mind

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My friend told me the other day that she wants to make a big purchase in 4 months time and was wondering out loud if the place would let her make it in payment installments.

I quickly suggested that since she is planning her purchase ahead of time she might as well divide that amount into 4 and put aside that money for the purchase she wishes to make. Not only will she not have to pay interest on payments later but she might even get a reduction in price for buying in cash.

After years of ingrained behaviour it can be very difficult to ‘flip a switch’ and start thinking differently, to not buy things we cannot afford, even if we do actually NEED them (and not just want).

I wonder what our financial behaviour would be like if we didn’t have things like credit cards which give us a false sense of “money in hand”.

And now the secret to successful budgeting – spend less money than you make.




All the Single Ladies (and guys)

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I am the eldest in my family with quite a large gap between me and the second born. This naturally put me in a position where I was the first to get married and start a family. Now I get to watch my siblings enter early to mid-adulthood and try to “warn” and guide them to financial balance.

It’s quite interesting to watch them make different financial decisions than me and each other since we all grew up with the same “teachings” and habits we saw our parents making.

One of them thinks about today and plans only for the immediate future, while the other looks further ahead and is safely putting his money away when he could easily spend it on exotic vacations and car payments. While some may think it’s shameful to be living with your parents during your mid 20’s, it is perhaps the wisest financial decision if you have a goal in mind and minimizing expenses is what you need to do for this to happen.

Obviously it’s much harder to get through to the one who has a shoe and bag addiction and doesn’t know the first thing about creating and setting a budget. But maybe one day…

I wish I knew then what I know now and had safely put some money away while I had fewer expenses then I do today. If you are single – what do you spend most of your money on that can maybe take a “budget cut”? Do you put some aside for a rainy day? If you are parents to teenagers and young adults are you doing your best to make sure your children are able to stand on their own two feet and plan ahead for whatever life holds in store?

Family Budgeting: Sink your Teeth into This

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Back (ok not so far back) in the day when I was super strict about the budget I would delay the need to pay for things that required more immediate attention. Mainly the care of my teeth.

BIG mistake. Sometimes when you’re trying to reach a financial goal and want to do everything you can to minimize expenses, you may end up paying more (much more) for it later.

Behavioural psychology studies found that people usually forgo payment of large sums despite it paying off in the long run, and would rather pay a larger sum later on if it meant that in the immidiate future they did not have to make any payment (more on that – Budgeting: Fan vs. Air Con. vs. Both).

Same goes for any car maintenance work that needs to be done (that we put off for the sake of the budget).

So when prioritizing your budget please be sure to keep this in mind. While life is full of surprises, this doesnt need to be one of them.

Family Budgeting: More is…More

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When I first did my budget I discovered that not only was I spending way too much in certain areas, but that in total I was putting myself in debt more and more each month. As I already mentioned the income needs to be as much if not more than our expenses.

After reducing where I could I found that I still came up short. There was no where else to “trim” from and I needed to find a way to cover it.

What to do????

And so I was put to the task of finding “extra” income. It would not be easy and would require working MORE hours than I had energy for, but for the immediate goal I was trying to reach it needed to be done.

Finding that extra income can require some creativness. I, for instance, relied on my bi-lingual skills to do some side translation work, which didn’t make me millions but here and there provided much needed “relief” for little extra expenses that came our way.

I heard a story of a man greatly in debt, who had sleepless nights thinking about his finances, and was advised that since he wasn’t sleeping anyway, perhaps he should try delivering fresh bread and milk as a service. Not only was this a way as earning extra income, turns out it was so successful his business grew so much he ended up hiring staff for deliveries and now runs it successfully.

Perhaps you have a skill that you can put to use as a way of earning some extra money. Perhaps you can draw or write well – think about how you can use that to make some extra cash. All ideas are welcome and I would love to hear them so please comment below!

So as you can see – more money is…more income – the more you make the faster you can reduce your debt and start planning ahead.

Family Budgeting: Don’t Lose your Cool

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Budgeting and keeping on top of finances can be very tiring. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half and I find myself slipping and not accounting for every cent. Sometimes I feel like Scruge McDuck and I am sure my spouse agrees…

I used to check on a weekly basis how we were doing budget wise and would try and adjust accordingly. This was especially hard towards the end of the month when I saw were very close to going over (or actually going over) our set goals and would panic.

However as the month came to a close I saw that things balanced themselves out. If we spent more than budgeted on food then in other areas we spent less then budgeted and somehow it all evened out.

The most important thing is to keep on going even if it may seem that “this will never/is not working” – it can and it will because you now have control.

stay tuned for “Family Budgeting: More is…More”

Family Budgeting: Trimming off the Fat

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If you have successfully gathered information and put it into a document where you can actually see how much you are spending on things and how much you are earning – Now it’s time to make some cuts.

Take a look at each category and think how you might be able to reduce payments.

Education for kids was our biggest expense, with two kids in private kindergarten. Since there was nothing to do about that for this year we left it as is, knowing that this would be a reality for the next few months until our kids got older. There were of course cheaper options for the following year which we considered but ultimately felt that where our children learn is important to us and therefore decided not to reduce costs in this category.

The choice of where to cut is individual and should reflect your priorities as well as your financial goals.

Food was another major expense for us, with two kids under the age of 3, diapers and formula added up. As we gradually started toilet training (which cut diaper costs) and were looking forward to the one year mark, after which we could switch to cow’s milk, there were other actions we started to take. This was and still is a very big challenge since food is something people don’t WANT or LIKE to feel stingy about.

Menu planning goes a long way in this department, so make lists and don’t shop when you’re hungry or WITH KIDS (on more shopping tips see post ‘Don’t Buy Me’). I even complied a priced shopping list based on the supermarket I go to, so that I know exactly how much I can EXPECT to spend and not have to dread seeing the amount at the end of my shop.  Decide which of you will go shopping; see more on this at Family Budgeting: Spousal Food Fights (future installment).

Mortgages – Since I am not an expert I highly suggest you look into the option or re-financing. If you are too intimidated or do not want to have the headache of shopping around, you can always use a mortgage broker.

For me, one of the bigger payments was my cell phone bill. Perhaps you can check other cell-phone plans that may be cheaper? Are you paying for a set amount of minutes but not actually using all of them? When my husband wanted an iPhone we changed cell companies for his special deal. I also got a “special” deal of 125 minutes for a set price. Problem was I wasn’t reaching those 125 minutes and since this was the “cheapest” plan I couldn’t do anything. Luckily a new law was passed that cancellation fees (usually given for switching between companies mid package commitment period) were being significantly reduced and I was able to switch to another company and greatly reduce my monthly payment for cell bills.

Other areas to check and price compare are insurance payments. You may be paying at various places for the same coverage, you will have to call and find out exactly what you are paying for to see if you can perhaps cancel one or more payments. Since companies do NOT like to lose clients that easily, you can shop around and get price quotes to bargain down your current payments.

Once you have really looked and considered each category for “slashing” it’s time to build your ACTIVE BUDGET, more on that in the next installment.

Family Budgeting: Addiction and Rehabilitation

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When it comes to budgeting your household finances the hardest thing to overcome is the initial step of admitting there is a problem. Many of us know we spend “a lot” on various purchases such as food, clothing, utilities, cell phones, etc. but to actually sit down and calculate the cold hard truth can be too much to bear for many.

It is my hope that my story will inspire you to make that change and start taking control of your finances and future.

The first challenge to conquer is the act of gathering information. This is the point where you must gather all your bills from the last six-twelve months. The list is long but it is essential to get a realistic view of what you’ve been up to and how to plan ahead. You could be one of the lucky ones that has them all filed up by month, I was like that but I never knew where to start or what to do with this information.

The bills you will require are listed in the form under the downloads section. ( You can download the PDF form in my box widget to help you record all the information needed in order to build an initial budget). There are many categories and sub categories which are relevant not each month, but throughout the year, which we need to take account of so we can plan for and be aware of.

The second challenge is to begin writing down, be it in a notebook, or excel, everything you spend, each and every day, and I do mean each and every day. It is very easy to forget and if you don’t do it, you WILL forget, trust me, I have and so will you.

Once you have all your bills in front of you, sort them by month. Write down how much you paid each month and do this for six months back. Calculate the average and then you will have your average monthly budget.

Congratulations, you have completed the first step on your road to financial recovery. Your next step will follow shortly so stay tuned.