4 Ways to Simplify Your Monthly Family Finances
October 5, 2022
by kevin gardner, guest contributor
Money is a significant stressor. Bills add up, and families can quickly feel the pressure of making their financial obligations each month. You don't want to miss something, overspend or rack up enormous debt. But it's hard to manage the constant influx of billing statements and obligations.
If you're feeling overwhelmed with your family's finances, you can take steps to minimize the frustration and simplify the process. Take some time to review your monthly expenses and habits and use the following tips to streamline your financial commitments.
1. Assess Your Budget Regularly
It's hard to keep track of spending. In the past, people wrote out checks, diligently noting precisely what came out of their accounts—the process allowed for a mental checkpoint. You knew the bottom line and could hold back on what to spend.
Now, things shoot in through emails, and you can set automated accounts, so the constant influx may be hard to see all at once. There are several ways to embrace this approach of continual awareness. Start by checking credit card statements daily, noting your credit amount. In addition, create a spreadsheet to track your bills and income. The spreadsheet gives you a general overview. Look over it to ensure that you're not overspending. Find ways to cut back or merge bills if possible.
2. Simplify Your Accounts
Over time, your accounts diversify and add up. You may juggle multiple credit cards, hold several retirement funds, and have a couple of savings accounts. It's hard to manage and remain up-to-date on so many things. Therefore, focus on reducing numbers and sticking with companies that offer flexibility and ease. For instance, narrow down your credit cards to one or two. Stick to one company for your children's private student loans, seeking institutions that reduce paperwork and assist in providing various financial options.
Emphasizing less means working with companies that care about you and making your financial life easier and better. Merge your retirement funds and strive to have one checking and one savings account.
3. Use Payment Systems
Late payments can hurt your credit and result in added penalties. That's money down the drain. You probably intended to pay your bills on time, but you may find it hard to keep tabs on when everything is due. There are several approaches to this situation. First, make a note of when your bills come due. Lump these into similar time frames, creating categories. For instance, are the mortgage and car bills all due around the first of the month? If so, pick a day ahead to pay them. You might choose a later date to handle credit cards and utilities. Mark them in your calendar and set reminders on your phones.
If that seems too much, you can take an even easier route. Use the automated bill option. Most companies now offer online payment. Choose to go paperless, and pick a day for the system to withdraw the appropriate amount - your finances are handled without you having to worry each month.
4. Cut Down on Added Splurges
Are you hitting the coffee shop once a day? Do you order pizza every Friday? Maybe you even grab lunch with friends a couple of days a week. These expenses add up quickly. They're friendly and fun, but they deplete your extra funds. Use your banking and credit card programs to evaluate your current spending habits. Many of these institutions allow you to see how much you spend on groceries, utilities and fun habits. For instance, Forbes magazine notes that a mortgage should stay roughly within 30 to 35% of your monthly income. Davey Ramsey encourages about 5% on personal expenses. If you're over that amount, cut back on your daily splurges.
Keep your family finances in line and simple. If you're overwhelmed, stop and spend time assessing your spending habits and obligations. Streamline as much as possible and work with places that offer customer-friendly options.
Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS. As busy as he is with his career, Kevin has made his family a priority and has found creative ways to give them the time they deserve. Whenever possible, he writes about his experiences and shares them to help others.
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