When it comes to budgeting for kids, we try to provide a lot of advice here on this site and in our book. If you’re looking for advice on starting a budget for yourself, I’d recommend that you start off with a trip to Dave Ramsey’s excellent site.
For example, in Dave’s article, The Truth About Budgeting, he writes,
“Unfortunately, the word budget has gotten a bum rap – it is basically just a PLAN. When you budget, you’re spending on paper, on purpose, before the month begins. But many people view a budget as a straight jacket that keeps them constrained. Freedom and budget just don’t seem to go together.
However, when you see that a budget is just spending your money with intention, you’ll actually experience more freedom than before.”
I couldn’t agree more, Dave!
Dave has some advice for people starting a budget – I present it here with my comments:
- Give it three to four months to start working. It won’t be perfect the first time you do it. I’d go a step further – it won’t be perfect ever, and you’ll be continually revising it as you go. But after the first three or four months, it will be FUN, because you’ll already see the change in your relationship with money.
- Spend every dime on paper before the month begins. This is key. This is budgeting, in a nutshell. You’re not spending less, you’re just deciding where you’re going to spend the money ahead of time AND THEN you’re going to hold yourself to that limit during the month. If it turns out you under-budgeted (like for groceries, see below) then you’ll feel the pain in one month, but you’ll have a chance to fix it the next.
- Over-fund your groceries category. Most people underfund that category. We used this as a “bonus” category. If we had money left over in groceries, we’d go out to a restaurant once or twice to spend the “found money.” You’ve got to have a bit of fun every now and again, right?
- Husbands (if applicable) need to loosen up and quit using the budget as a whipping tool on their wives. Amen. Budgeting is a group event. It only works if everyone is on board, including the kids!
- If married, spouses need to do the budget together. The preacher said “… and you are ONE.”
Tracie and I got a lot out of the budgeting process – over and above control of our financial resources. Looking at our budget each month, and making decisions together on what was working and what wasn’t helped us to develop new ways to communicate, and a deeper level of trust and reliance on each other.
If you’re budgeting, don’t be afraid – take small steps, and enjoy!