Household budgeting, especially with very limited funds, requires some careful prioritizing. If you are trying to figure out how to manage money, the next step is to prioritze expenses.
Once you have your list of expenses, go through the list and decide which is most important. Put that as first on your list with the amount you must pay into that account monthly. Once you have the expense and amount that expense requires listed, add a column for the cumulative expenses. this allows you to see exactly how much money you need to earn to pay for the things on your list. So if you earn $3,000/month, you may only be able to afford the first 10 things on your list, but those ten things should be the most imposrtant ten things.
When I examine how I will make my my household budgeting work, I print out the list of every expense I have throughout the year and then go through each item one at a time. When I find something I think should go next on my list, I scan the others to be sure none should have a higher priority. If there is something that needs to go higher on the list, I hold onto that item and continue scanning for something that would be even more important than what that item. When nothing on the list is of greater importance than the item I am holding onto, I put that item on my list, write the amount that item requires, and then add up my cumulative column.
This takes some time to set up, but saves a lot of time and money (and headaches and tears) later. Also, if you have a spreadsheet or similar program, it can add the cumulative column for you and automatically make changes as you adjust your budget in the coming months.
It can also be difficult to prioritize household budgeting. Looking at my list, you may see “Health Club” and wonder about that. Health club in my case is our local YMCA where they accept people on a sliding scale. There is a pool so can take my boys over and hopefully teach them to swim without paying for sswim lessons, and what is even better is that the YMCA offers free daycare for up to 2 hours to members who stay in the building. Since I do a lot of “work from home” with my 2 year old, this is a priceless help to me and a fun time for him and well worth the minimal expense.
I also watch expenses I know are coming. For example, Kaleb will start nursery school in September. If I can start putting money away now, it will come as less of a shock when the first payment is due and I will have at least a little built up for when that time comes.
I have difficulty putting off things like health insurance for myself, but the boys are covered under their father’s insurance and I am still in good health. I will be extra careful to take care of myself, walking carefully especially on ice, driving carefully, watching my stress levels, and eating as consciously as my time and budget will allow. I will not add to the mnimums above my health insurance until I am able to afford that insurance. And I will pray and trust that whatever happens, God has a handle on it.
The Read More section gives a sample household budgeting plan. I began the monthly expense column and cumulative column to give you an idea of how I do it.
Monday Single Mom Smiling posts offer advice on financial planning and tips on how to save money.
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