To say that every family should have a monthly budget is an understatement. The only way to control your family's finances is with a budget that keeps track of where the money comes from and where it is absolutely spent. A budget, or cash flow plan for those who do not like the B word, is a critical part of any family's secure financial future.
For most families a budget is far down the list of things that are important in the day to day happenings for most families. For most people doing a budget is another task for which they have little time to deal with. Unfortunately this is the reason so many families are having the financial problems that they are dealing with today. A budget can also be a divisive thing if it is used as a way to control the spending habits and place blamed for the financial failures being experienced. For a family budget to work properly it must be used as a tool by all family members that involves financial goals and compromise to reach them.
A budget is actually not that hard to create and keep simply because it is just a list of monthly income and expenses that is either either on a sheet of paper or on a computer equipped with budgeting software. The idea behind any budgeting process is to create a balance between income and expenses so that at the end of the month there is money left over to save, invest, and build wealth.
There is no concrete method for building a family budget because each family's financial needs are different. Some families may be saving for a new car or family vacation, while others are more intent on building savings and college funds. Most families start their budgeting process simply by writing everything down on a piece of paper but as their financial needs grow more complex they may find they need the services of a financial or investment planner.
Another thing to think about and discuss is what are your family's long term financial goals and how do these fit into and affect the monthly budget. It is important to consider not only the goals of individual family members but also the collective goals of the entire family as well. These can include such things as putting away money for a new home, saving for children's college fund, building that retirement nest egg, and probably the most important thing for any family building an emergency savings fund to protect against unforeseen financial emergencies.
The hardest part of finalizing the family budget is making sure you have all the monthly expenses written down. Missing even one or two can seriously affect your budget because at the end of the month you will have less money then originally budgeted for. Be sure to think of those surprise expenses which is particularly important if you have children. It always seems that some unforeseen expense pops up around one of the kid's school activities, or they need new glasses or braces, or something along those lines. Of course if you have an emergency fund in place you can use money from this for such things.
Setting up a proper family budget will not only help you meet your financial goals but will also save money over the long run. Not having money worries will make family life better for all concerned; it just takes a little time and patience.