Knowhow-Now Article

Budgeting Tools That Can Work For Your Family

By Mike Hirst

Mike Hirst - Author

Ask some people how they budget their monthly expenses and chances are they’ll respond to you with a blank look. Yes, most folks  find it difficult to budget their money in order to get the greatest return on their income and maybe even put some aside for saving. The fact is there are various family budgeting tools and programs available. These come in different forms, and people have the liberty to choose which ones would benefit them the most. There are money management programs that let you enter your cash inflows and outflows and put your expenses under different categories. Sometimes, these programs even provide you with an analysis of your spending behavior.

Later versions of such programs have incorporated features that allow people to keep up with the fast pace of present-day living. You can input the different monthly payments you make in these programs and track if you’ve paid all your dues on time or if some are still pending. You can even keep track of tax dues and deductibles so you never have to miss anything. More often than not, these programs can provide you with a printable budget planner; thus, it’s possible to keep track of your finances even when your computer is turned off. Of course, coupons found in magazines and newspapers are excellent budgeting tools, too.

budgeting and saving money in the piggy bank

Obviously, one of the foolproof budgeting tools is the list. It doesn’t even matter if you write this list on a piece of paper, in your mobile phone’s memo pad, or on your tablet. The important thing is it helps you keep focused on what you need to buy. In effect, you’re able to keep track of the purchases you make, putting you in a better position to account for your cash outflows. Even a simple grocery list always does the trick. It helps you identify what food items you need to buy – items that are already unavailable in your pantry – and other household items you’ve run out of. When you go shopping with the list, you know exactly what you’re going to buy and have a forecast of how much you’ll be spending.

Another great tool for budgeting is the family budget calculator. Usually, this online calculator helps you to figure out how your family expenses compare to an average family's expenses. More often than not, such online budget calculators use information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and allow you to input your monthly or annual expenses. Expenses are divided into different categories to make it easier for you to enter the figures. Once you’ve put in the figures, the calculator would analyze the percentage spent in each category; thus, it’s easier for you to see which expenses eats up most of the family’s income.

working with family budgeting tools

Having a system when it comes to filing your bills, receipts, bank documents, and other paperwork is a good idea too. By putting together your bills, your credit card receipts, and the like, you are able to keep track of how much you owe and when your payments are due.

No matter which tool you choose to help you budget for your family, make sure that it addresses your needs as a consumer. It would be illogical to choose something that you don’t have any idea how to use. That would be like a shot in the dark. As much as possible, you need to choose something you won’t have a hard time familiarizing yourself with. If you’re going to use an online tool, make sure it’s easy to understand and has a user-friendly interface.

As it is, budgeting is already a complicated thing to do. The last thing you want is to get confused over the budget and the tools you use to make budgeting “easier.”

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