How to Plan Back to School Shopping

Finally, an attack plan for the best of us.  Don’t let back to school shopping get you down.  Planning is the best way to get the most for your time and money. And when it comes to back to school spending, the goal is often to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. While it may seem too soon to start thinking about back to school shopping, it is right around the corner. Planning now will save you later.

Take a Look at What You Usually Spend

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the past few years to assess how much you usually spend. This information will help you set a budget for your children this year. Remember that school materials and supplies should be included in the budget along with clothing.

Take a Look at Your Current Budget

It’s quite possible that your financial situation is different than it was last year. Take a look at your current budget. How much can you afford to spend on back to school shopping this year? You may be able to spend more or you may have to spend less.

Additionally, knowing how much you spent last year can help you make good budgeting decisions this year. For example, if you know you spent $300 last year and can only afford $200 this year, you may be able to shift a few things in your monthly budget to find that extra $100.

Make a List of What You Need

How much have your children grown? What clothing do they need and what do they want? Make a list of the items they need and start prioritizing. Ask your children to get involved in this process. They can try last year’s clothing on and let you know which items they want to keep and which items are no longer appropriate.

What Stores Will You Visit?

As it gets closer to that inevitable shopping day, consider taking your child to thrift stores. Many used clothing stores sell brand name items that are in ideal condition. If your children are brand conscious, they may enjoy being able to purchase more for their money while still looking cool.

Give Them Cash

One of the best ways to stick to your budget and your shopping plan is to hand the budgeted amount to each child. Children have a tendency to go overboard when they’re shopping. They find that one brand name sweatshirt and spend half of their budget on it. Then they cry a few weeks later when they’re forced to wear the same shirt over and over again. They make much smarter buying decisions when they get to hold the cash in their hand. They tend to want to get more for their money – it almost becomes a game for them.

Decide when to Go

Finally, set the date. You can save a lot of money if you go school shopping about a month after school starts. Items go on sale and children are able to buy what the cool kids are wearing at school at a much lower price. If they absolutely must have a new outfit for school, then buy one outfit for that first day and then commit to taking them shopping in a few weeks when things go on sale.

 

Your Questions About Family Budget

Mary asks…

what is a good way to start a family budget?

I am looking for a easy budget plan to set up for my family. I don’t want anything confusing or time consuming.

richmama answers:

I agree with Mary… I set up my family budget with a clear list of all our expenses: Mortgage, Car payments, Daycare, Etc. With the days they are due. For the variable expenses, I looked back several months to see what we spent on average on Food, Gas, Cash Withdrawals and Miscellanious. If you see an area that you are overspending, it’s easy to see where you need to trim back. Then list your income to see what you have left. I recommend putting Savings under the expense catagory, otherwise people don’t do it.

Most people have some debt, but may not truely know how much. Along with the budget, to the side of the item like “Credit cards”, put the overall balance. The only way to pay off debt and manage a budget is to have a very clear plan.

List all the debt in another area in order of priority. For example, my husband and I owed a decent amount on credit cards, then a small loan for our wedding rings, one for our golf cart, and student loans. The credit card was the highest interest rate, so we paid the minimum on everything else and paid as much as possible to the credit card. Once that was paid, we compounded what we paid for the credit card along with the next item (student loan) and paid that off like crazy. By the time we got to the last item, we were paying $800 a month off our last debt because we compounded it.

I know you said you didn’t want anything time consuming, but if there is anything to spend a few more minutes on a month, it would be your family finances.

Lisa asks…

Where can I find some family budget spreadsheets?

I want to make a budget for me and my family. I been trying to make one for the last couple years. We have some debts we wanna pay off and a financial goal. thanks for your time.

richmama answers:

Right on your computer. Microsoft spreadsheet. Use some accounting tools, like assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. Then break it down from there.

Nancy asks…

How do I create a family budget?

How do I create a family budget that’s easy to implement and follow for years to come?

richmama answers:

I would recommend spending $19.95 on a book Called “Financial Peace” Written by Dave Ramsey. “More than Enough” is also a good second book if you like the first written by the same author. The book is written on an easy to read (6th grade level) It covers budgeting and gives sample budget’s it also encourages you to sit down with your spouse to establish and keep a budget. I do not use all Dave Ramsey’s suggestions but anyone that does will not go wrong. The base of his teachings is very valid and useful. I firmly believe anyone starting out with these tools will not go wrong. Remember in life though a little common sense goes along way Good luck to you

Donald asks…

Best websites for establishing a Family Budget?

I need to get my family on a budget. I’m Bad with money and am willing to learn how to get better- but I need a starting point.
Any suggestions?

richmama answers:

I suggest you go to Dave Ramsey’s website. He has a lot of financial forms or you can do the budget on line. He also has an easy to understand book The Total Money Makeover to help navigate a budget, get out of debt, save for emergencies, save for big purchases, save for collage, retirement, etc.

We have used his plan for about 3 years, we love his advice.

If you end up thinking he is too intense then try Crown Financial (link below).

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What Is A Family Budget and Why You Need It

What is a Family Budget

Just what is a family budget? A family budget is a plan that is drawn by members of a family consisting of the total income that the family gets every month and also the total expenditure that the family incurs every month. Although the people responsible for making this budget are the parents, all the other family members should be aware of what the budget entails. This is because it will affect the different aspects of their lives. For a family budget to be effective the following should be put into consideration

The amount of income is the first thing that should be taken into consideration. This is because the amount of money to be spent is pegged on what is available for spending. The family should endeavor to always spend less money than the amount that is available to ensure that it lives within its means. If this does not happen, it will make the family live off debts which might accumulate to unmanageable levels. This will create a financial constraint in the family and is likely to destabilize the family further.

What is a Family Budget Made Of?

After determining the total amount of income available per month, the second step involves looking at the size of the family. The number of the family members, their age and their unique needs should be considered. This is because members who are sick and children require special food hence making the family budget go up.

The family budget should satisfy the basic human wants and cut down on things considered as luxuries to the bare minimum. This does not mean that the luxuries should be eliminated from the budget they should not become a priority.

The budget should cater for the education needs of the family. This should comprise of money required for tuition, books and even transport .The needs of the house should not be forgotten. In case the family has engaged the services of a house workers, their wages should be included there. Another expense includes the bills for water, gas and electricity. The amount used for the maintenance of the house should be included also. The health of the family should not be forgotten. The family might decide to take a medical cover to take care ofthe health of all the family members.

After all the above expenses are catered for, the family budget should be drawn in such a way that it will leave some allowance for savings. The minimum amount that a family should endeavor to save should be 5% of the total income every month. This should not be taken after the expenses are deducted because in most cases the expenses will surpass the income. The savings should be put away before the other expenditures are put into consideration. This is the kitty that should be utilized in case there is an emergency.

What is a Family Budget – Paying Down Debt

In case there are some debts to be paid, the family should restrict such debt repayment to 15% of the total income.  Still the goal of the family should be to eliminate debt all altogether – and not get into it again.  What is a family budget – it’s the plan to put your family on the right financial path.

Do Entertain or Not To Entertain – When Being Social Comes Down To Budget

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It’s a no brainer that if you want to save money you cut back on your entertainment expenses – you stop eating out, you rent a dvd instead of going to the movies, you play in the yard or pack a picnic lunch at the local park.

But what something simple – like inviting people over for dinner – it’s a “cheap” way to entertain, yet is it in the budget.  This past weekend, facing the end of the month and the dwindling of cash for the month (not unexpected – all part of the budget plan) – I was faced with a dilemma – a weekend free of any social plans and some friends who were owed an invitation.

I had sent out an email a week or so back – and the available dates came back – this weekend was one, as well as a date a few weeks out…which could be planned for.

So – what should I do, I thought – sure it doesn’t cost much to entertain some old friends – a few extra snacks, a few extra burgs and dogs (oh yeah – dessert, a bottle or two of wine, some juice boxes) – and the cost – though not a lot would creep up – and (slightly) blow the spending plan for the month  – and with not a lot of time in the month to find ways to cut, I would be heading into the next month already behind – trying to recover the cost someplace in the budget.

So what’s a RichMama to do – be social, or push out a simple family dinner a few weeks in order to be “frugal” – was I being a Scrooge…

The right thing to do of course would be to push the dinner out – because by allowing even innocent, for a good cause, or because of some sort (in this case) invisible social pressure – our good budget discipline slides…this was not an emergency, a life threatening situation where letting something ride on the credit card or dipping into the back up cash qualifies.

So what did I do?  I let nature take its course  — for real – a little hurricane named Irene trumped all social plans as we (the other family included) hunkered down to ride the storm out.  We’ll meet up next month, when I will be sure to put the entertainment into the month’s budget.

On the other hand – I did have to lay in a few extra supplies that I don’t normally keep on hand – like bottled water – for the storm (which thankfully spared us for the most part.)

So, when committing to being a RichMama, remember – the little choices (and expenses) add up.  Staying financially fit – especially if you are still paying down credit card debt – means sometimes postponing things until you can plan (save) for them.