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Keeping control of your finances while also raising a family isn’t the easiest thing you could do. In fact, it can often seem to be a maelstrom of chaos, where it’s all but impossible to plan your finances reliably and to deal with the constant unexpected expenses which will invariably crop up over the course of normal family life.
Don’t give up hope, though. While financial management isn’t as straightforward for a family as it is for an individual, it’s still manageable, despite all appearances to the contrary.
Ahead, you’ll find some tips for staying on top of your finances as a busy mom.
Keep a record of all money coming in and going out
One of the first rules of budgeting, in general, is to become fully aware of how much money you have coming in, and how much you have going out at any given time, via any means.
Most people have a pretty reliable idea of how much they’re earning each month, and the wise among us keep the paystubs from our monthly checks for future reference. Keeping track of outgoings, on the other hand, is often not so straightforward, and a huge number — perhaps most — people seriously falter in this regard.
If you’re going to be the master of your finances, there’s no getting around the fact that you need to know not only how much you’re spending each month, but where you’re spending that money. Whether you use pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or dedicated budgeting software, you need to identify those areas where money is draining out of your life, perhaps unexpectedly.
Audit your finances as the first step towards getting them under control. It might be that you could free up much needed funds in unexpected areas simply by switching the brand of coffee you buy, or preparing your lunch at home before heading out into town.
Be sure to budget for the unexpected
Perhaps the biggest challenge in budgeting for a family, is the fact that kids naturally introduce a large element of the unexpected to everything you’re doing. At any given time, you never know when you might need to spend money unexpectedly on medical expenses for your child, buy them a new jacket because they managed to tear the sleeves off their old one, or even pay for a new window to replace one that’s been smashed by a stray ball.
The best way to handle this uncertainty isn’t to throw your hands up in the air and to give up on budgeting altogether, it’s to budget specifically for unexpected events.
Simply setting up an “unexpected expenses” budgeting / savings category and assigning money to it each month creates a buffer against these little crises, without you needing to lose control of your finances.
Take care of yourself too
Setting money aside on a regular basis for your own wellbeing is actually a great investment for any parent. Raising young children is extremely rewarding, but it can also be stressful. You should view your own health and wellbeing as a commodity that you budget for, because if you don’t, you’re likely going to have to pay for more serious medical expenses down the line.
Allocate a certain amount of your budget to making sure you can afford healthy foods, vitamins, a gym membership, and some purely pleasurable activities like spa days. It’ll be in everyone’s best interest in the long run.