How do I Control Family Spending?

Susan Grindstaff

In order to control family spending, it is usually necessary to make it a group effort, involving all the family members in the process. Sometimes this is difficult to accomplish, especially in larger families. First you will need to decide how much money you are willing to allot for family spending. This normally involves working out a budget that measures income against all fixed expenses. The money that is left over is what you still have some control over.

Families should prioritize areas, such as education or care for the elderly, that they feel should not be neglected when writing a budget.
Families should prioritize areas, such as education or care for the elderly, that they feel should not be neglected when writing a budget.

In most families, both spouses have access to the family’s cash reserves at all times. This is usually necessary because unexpected expenses can come up that must be immediately addressed; however, in order to control family spending, it may be necessary to put one person in charge of the money. Though this spouse would act as the family banker, he or she would be dispensing cash based on guidelines that have first been decided by the family as a whole. His or her job would simply be to make sure all family members were spending within those prearranged limits. As long as everyone has had input into the initial decision-making, there should be no need for resentment toward the person controlling the purse strings.

Creating a budget can prevent unnecessary spending and save money.
Creating a budget can prevent unnecessary spending and save money.

Another way to help control family spending could involve putting children on an allowance. The amount of the allowance should be fair when measured against the family income. Your children may tell you that their friends have higher allowances than they do, but that should probably not enter into the equation. In order to achieve success at controlling spending, allowances should be set based on what your family can actually afford.

The envelope budgeting system helps some families manage their spending.
The envelope budgeting system helps some families manage their spending.

You should also remember that in many cases, money spent could be money earned. You should try to take advantage of sale items when the opportunity arises. For instance, if your family consumes a great deal of a particular type of canned soup, and you find the soup sale priced, it is probably a good idea to stock up. Even though your cash outlay may be a bit more for that particular shopping day, in the end, you have saved yourself some money.

Planning a family picnic instead of going out to a restaurant can help save money.
Planning a family picnic instead of going out to a restaurant can help save money.

Recreation is another area where it is often easy to control family spending. Take advantage of recreation activities that are free in your area. You could plan a family picnic or a tour of a local museum. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, try planning a family night with a movie rental and a home-cooked meal.

A day at the beach is a relatively inexpensive way for families to spend time together.
A day at the beach is a relatively inexpensive way for families to spend time together.
Limiting the number of credit cards a family has access to can control spending.
Limiting the number of credit cards a family has access to can control spending.

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