Budgeting for a family can be quite a challenge! Not only are there a lot of expenses involved in raising a family, but you also want to make sure you are saving for the future. It is so important to make a reasonable budget and stick to it. However, one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure that your family has enough to meet daily demands AND build a savings, is through couponing.
Here are some of the best ways to get started with first creating and then improving your budget through coupons.
Creating a Budget
In order to make a reasonable budget, you will need to take an honest look at how you are currently spending money. Consider what absolute necessities are. For families with young children, this probably includes baby care items, meal items, childcare, and transportation costs. Next consider what luxury items you might be purchasing. This might include an elaborate cable package, your cell phone plan, and restaurant purchases. Once you have a sense of what items are essential and what items are luxury, start determining how much each is costing you.
There are a number of different ways to estimate the costs of these various items. One of the best ways is to refer back to your debit card statement and identify specific purchases. Another method is to look for your receipts. The more accurate you can be with your estimations, the more likely you are to succeed with your new budget.
Once you have a good sense of where your money is going, take a look at your income sources. Calculate how much money is coming into your household each month. Then take a look at the expenses. If your expenses outweigh your income, it is crucial to find areas to cut back on spending. Even if your income is meeting your expenses, you will want to adjust your spending habits to find a little extra for savings. To find out where you can make that space, go first to the luxury list. Determine what can be sacrificed and downgraded. Next, take a look at the necessities list and decide if anything can be cut back or better managed. Make a plan for how much you would like to spend for each category on your list and strive to stick to that plan.
Finding Extra Money
One budget area, which has the most potential for better management, is groceries. Couponing has grown in popularity in recent years and for good reason. A family can save dramatically on the grocery store bill with a bit of planning and research. Here is what you need to do in order to utilize couponing to find some extra money in your budget.
First, check out the coupon policy for your local supermarket. Make sure you understand their rules regarding coupon doubling and items per transaction. Next, browse the internet for coupons related to either your particular store or to the items you like to buy. There is a large community of couponers online which give tips and strategies for finding those coupons. Finally, print, clip, and head down to the store. Be sure you've done the math carefully and checked for relevant sales. You will know you've done a great job once you step out of that store with $200 worth of product for less than $50. Couponing is a great way to boost your budget.
Some of our favorite printable coupon sites & resources are:
Coupon Sherpa: www.couponsherpa.com
Retail Me Not: www.retailmenot.com
A Full Cup: www.afullcup.com
Red Plum: www.redplum.com
Smart Source: www.smartsource.com
CVS ExtraCare Rewards Program: www.cvs.com/extracare
(Also be sure to download the FREE Target Cartwheel app for additional savings/deals each week at http://cartwheel.target.com)