Six Ways to Set Budgeting Priorities
For some of us, budgeting is second nature. For others, it seems a nearly impossible task. There are just so many things to consider that it’s hard to decide where your funds should go.
Setting priorities makes budgeting much simpler. But even this is difficult for many household money managers. Priorities are somewhat subjective, and those within the household often have vastly different priorities. Here are some ways that you can make priority setting a little easier:
1. Keep first things first. When it comes down to it, there are only a few things that we truly need to survive. These things include food, water, clothing and shelter. Transportation and other things that enable us to work and continue to make money also fall into this category. These should always come first in the budget, although it’s always a good idea to do our best to save money on them.
2. Keep savings in mind. We all need to put money aside for emergencies and set up a retirement fund. It’s also wise to set up a college fund for each of your children as early as possible. But many families push savings to the side, and it often ends up out of the picture altogether. Putting money away prior to any discretionary spending is crucial if you wish to meet your goals.
3. Evaluate your debts. If you have none, you’re in the lucky minority. Most households have large amounts of debt, including mortgages, car payments, loans and credit cards. By paying your debts off as quickly as possible, you can save lots of money in the long run. And once they’re paid in full, you’ll have a lot more wiggle room in your monthly budget. Putting as much money as you can afford toward paying off debt will help you reach that point much faster.
4. Set goals as a family. Maybe you would all like to go on a nice vacation next summer. Get everyone involved in deciding where to go, then calculate your expenses. Get everyone involved in saving money for this goal. Not only will you get to go on a family trip, you’ll also be teaching your children about budgeting and teamwork.
5. Review your budget periodically. A family’s needs change over time, and if your budget is no longer meeting your needs, it’s time for a change. Once again, you’ll need input from everyone in the family to make this work.
Priorities are at the heart of a successful budget. By keeping them in mind, we can resist impulse spending and make progress toward our financial goals. And by getting input from the entire family, you can gain valuable insight into individual needs and encourage interest in working together to keep your finances in good shape.