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Finding Lost Cash in Your Family Budget

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Every family needs a budget and the word “budget” doesn’t mean you’re poor. Some of the most successful and wealthiest families in the world use a budget. It’s simply a tool helping you to manage your money properly. If you’re setting up the family budget, you should know some of the most common places to cut cash.

You might have heard this before, “If you want to know the truth of a person’s heart, look at their checkbook.” This saying means, by looking at what a person or a family spends their money on, you can quickly figure out what’s important to them. Keep this saying in mind as you work through this quick plan to help you re-allocate cash into the most important categories in your life.

Four Steps to Locating Lost Cash

Step #1 – Actually Set up a Budget

A budget not only helps you track the money you spend, but it also allows you to assign every dollar a job or a place. Your budget should equal zero every month. This doesn’t mean you don’t save any money or have any money left over. Instead, it means you actually assign every dollar you earn a place. Some will go to bills, entertainment and food, while other dollars go to retirement savings, college savings, an emergency fund and other types of savings. Just make sure you assign all your dollars a place to go.

Step #2 – Track your Spending

Take the 30-day challenge and get a receipt for every purchase, no matter how small. Carry a small notebook to record any purchases you forgot to get a receipt for. This will give you a full picture of a month of your expenses. Once you’ve completed the 30-day challenge, you can categories all the expenses. Don’t forget to include bills paid automatically or online.

Step #3 – Identify Target Areas

Every family budget is different and most families can find some lost money in their budget by identifying the right areas. Car insurance happens to be a common area for saving money. By evaluating your current coverage and comparing it to other choices with tools for car insurance online, you can figure out if this is one of your target areas.

Make sure you look at your entertainment, food, clothing and other insurance categories. These are common categories families can make easy adjustments and find lost money. For example, if you find that you spend hundreds of dollars going out for dinner, movies and other entertainment choices each month, you might be able to cut back a bit or replace some of these trips with a less expensive option, such as a picnic in the park or a free museum tour.

Step #4 – Implement Change

Once you’ve identified the areas you can make cuts, it’s time to implement change. Some change can be difficult, such as cutting cable TV or working with a tighter grocery budget. Other changes will be very easy. On average, it takes about 90 days to completely implement the change, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t completely make the change the first month.

Finding the right areas to make cuts in your family budget takes a little time and can be a bit stressful. However, just imagine what you can do with an extra $100, $200 or even $500 a month and you’ll find the motivation to move forward with your new family budget.


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

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