Keeping a household in order comes with a myriad of challenges, but keeping your finances in order while juggling familial obligations comes with even more obstacles. Between your 9 to 5 job and grocery shopping, it can be easy to put your financial organization on the back burner. However, neglecting your budget and spending far too much money in a month could end up jeopardizing your family’s financial future—especially if these spending habits become the norm instead of the exception. If you’re struggling to balance the books each month, here are some helpful tips on how to better manage your household finances.
Spend Less Than You Earn
Before you roll your eyes in agreement with, “obviously you should spend less than you earn,” take a moment to consider if your family is following the golden rule. Credit cards can easily put your family behind without you ever noticing; your philosophy when it comes to using credit cards should be only to spend what you can pay off at the end of the month. So many credit cards offer incredible deals when it comes to airline miles and cash back; however, if you aren’t careful about paying your cards off, those benefits can easily end up costing you more than they’re worth.
If you own a home, there are a handful of tax credits that you might not be aware of. From tax credits to mortgages, your family could be saving a small fortune every year with just a few adjustments to the way you file. Using tax credits to your advantage is especially useful if you’re in need of help with delinquent taxes. While you can use some of these tax credits to cover your tax debt with the IRS, you should seek the help of a tax professional before doing so. Incorrectly claiming credits could result in an audit if you aren’t careful.
Create a Budget
If your family doesn’t already have a spreadsheet to track monthly and yearly expenses, it’s never too late to make one. A budget is the easiest way to keep spending and income organized and balanced. Factor, everything from retirement funds to savings. Once you have a budget, it will be easy to see the areas in which your family is spending too much money, and begin to cut costs accordingly.
Live Within Your Means
Living within your means doesn’t just mean spending less than you make; it’s also about driving the right car and going on the proper vacations. In other words, just because you can afford to drive a $50,000 car doesn’t mean you should. Surprise medical expenses cripple so many American families among other money emergencies. If you must spend, use your extra money on practical things that will provide you and your family with long-term enrichment.
Make Your Home Smarter
The average American family is spending thousands of dollars on electricity, gas, and water every year. Even a small investment in green technology for your home or property could end up saving you a fortune. Energy-saving appliance monitors are a great place to start. Did you know that most of your electronics are drawing power even when you aren’t using them? Consider using smart plugs to monitor your energy use and lower your utility bill. Smart plugs can also be used to set automatic timers when paired with a smart device such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
If the toilets in your home were installed before 1992, they could be using almost twice the amount of water they should. The initial cost of replacing your toilet with a Water Sense latrine might seem expensive, but in as little as 5 years you could be saving more money than you initially spent.
Save the Right Way
There are so many options when it comes to saving for retirement or a home, but the endless opportunities presented can make it challenging to choose just one. Unless you or your spouse are financial wizards, seek the advice of a financial advisor who can take a look at your family’s income and set up the best accounts for your retirement goals and financial security. The small investment it takes to get this type of valuable advice will be more than worth it in the long run.
Putting These Tips in Action
Don’t let the hustle and bustle of everyday life keep you from securing your family’s financial future. These tips and strategies are easy to implement, and with a little bit of determination, you can make all the difference in your financial future. Curb those excessive spending habits, stay on top of your tax obligations, create a budget, live within your means, conserve energy, and focus on saving strategies—all six of these actionable tips could be the thing to transform your bank account. If you want to save more and keep money in the bank for your retirement, your future, and those fun splurges, it’s time to put these ideas to good use.