Family Budget Planning: How To Stretch Yours

Need to arrange your family budget planning in order to start saving some extra money? It can be done without altering too much of your everyday activities.

Every family wants to be able to save some money. This savings fund could be for a well needed and earned vacation, an early start on college funds, or just to have some money put away for unexpected bills or a rainy day. Money can be saved pretty easily without altering very much of your daily routine. Even saving as little as $20 a week adds up to an extra $1040 a year. You will very quickly see how fast this money adds up, and before you know it you will be saving all the extra money that you can, and saving for something in particular that you thought was unrealistic.

A great place to start with when discussing excessive spending is the food bills. Almost every family has a designated night of the week where they either go out to eat or order in. A dinner in a restaurant for 4 people can run a total bill of approximately $60. And even ordering in a pizza, with all the extras can run a bill of $25. The money spent on this type of dining could feed a family of 4 for a few days, and that is with having a good sit down meal at dinnertime. Going out or ordering in is a great treat for the entire family, but try to limit this to once a month. The family still gets the treat of dining out, but it literally does become a treat then, not a normal thing. The money that you will save from eating at home will very quickly add up. Another expense that is unnecessary is buying your lunch everyday. Instead of spending $5-6 a day on food from the cafeteria or fast food restaurants, brown bag your lunch. Make lunches the night before, right after dinner if you are taking left overs, or while preparing dinner if taking something like sandwiches. This keeps all the mess of the preparation to a time when the kitchen is already in chaos. By taking your lunch, you will save an extra $30-40 a week. Pack lunches for your children as well, so then you also know that they are eating healthy.

Grocery stores are another pitfall for excessive spending habits. Look through local fliers to see what is on sale that you would normally buy, as well as for there are just great bargains. Clip coupons as well. This may seem foolish when coupons are only worth $0.25 or $0.50, but that money saved also adds up quickly. Try and stay away from pre-packaged, prepared foods. These tend to be very costly and generally, the quality of food prepared from scratch, or close to scratch taste a whole lot better. Always shop on a full stomach, or after eating a big meal. Doing groceries on an empty stomach or while hungry lures you into impulse buying foods that are expensive and unnecessary.

Coffee on a daily basis also is an excessive amount of money. Buy an insulated travel mug and make coffee at home to take on the commute to work.

Entertainment costs are another expense that adds up very quickly. The cost for a family of 4 to go to the movies with pop and popcorn can total upwards of $40. For two hours of entertainment, that seems like an awful lot of money. An amusement park can run a family of 4 as close to $200, if not more. These are all activities that families enjoy doing together, but there are many ways to have fun as a family unit without spending exuberant amounts of money. Rent movies once they come out on video, or play a family oriented board game that the entire family would enjoy. Take to the family to amusement parks when the fees to enter are 2 for 1, or if amusement parks are something that you really enjoy doing together, and you go to a park that offers family season's passes, buy one of those. Even if you only get to the park twice that season, you still will have used it effectively. Pack a picnic lunch, and take the family to a local park and spend the day playing outdoor games, and going for hikes. The occasional extravagant trip will be much more memorable, and looked forward to, if they occur irregularly.

Clothing is an extravagance that can easily be avoided. Instead of buying entire new seasonal ensembles for the family, try looking for clothes at consignment or thrift stores. The clothes that you may find here are only gently worn, and usually in fantastic condition. You may be surprised at how much you can purchase for a very little amount of money. Even if you only buy your own clothing at thrift or consignment stores, you will get great bargains and hip clothing for a fraction of the cost of department stores. You can also try retail outlet malls for designer clothing with lower price tags.

Saving money is not difficult if you put your mind to it, and see some reward at the end of the tunnel. It does not require a lot of changes, just minor things that will make your life easier anyways. Lifestyle changes will make your savings account grow, and your family healthier in the long run. Planning new things to do will also help your family communicate and pull together as a unit to think of new activities to do. Everyone will in essence reap the benefits of whatever the saved money goes towards. Happy savings, and it can be done, just by altering my life in subtle ways; I have already saved $275 in 3 months. My incentive is a well-needed and deserved trip to Cancun.

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