It’s an often-cited statistic that disagreeing over finances is one of the top reasons couples fight. To help you with your family budget, we’ve gathered Black Hills resources and expert advice.
How to Start a Family Budget
To start your family budget, the first thing you need to do is sit down and list your income sources. This is usually you or your partner’s job, but also commonly includes real estate and investments. Tally up how much you make in a month and keep that number handy.
The second step is to list your expenses. This may take a while, but it’s important to be thorough. Some families find it useful to divide their expenses into categories such as bills, utilities, and shopping. It’s really up to you and what you think will work best. Once you’ve tallied up your monthly expenses, also look at recurring expenses that happen once or twice a year. Things like home or car insurance, annual subscriptions, or other yearly expenses that you’ll need to figure into your budget.
Now compare the two numbers. Your income should be more than your expenses. If your family budget is in the black, it’s a great opportunity to start saving for the future. This can include saving for retirement, building up a down payment for a new home, or getting ready to welcome home your first baby. If it’s not, look at ways you can save on things you already buy. If you still can’t quite balance your budget, don’t worry. It takes some time and effort, but you can get there.
Have Fun Without Busting Your budget
One of the best things about living in the Black Hills is all the fun things to do. What’s even better is taking your kids out and have fun without blowing your family budget.
Summer vacation is the best time to get away from the day-to-day hustle with your family and enjoy being together. Unfortunately, many families spend way more money on vacations than they can afford. Here in the Black Hills, there are plenty of places to go that are budget-friendly, and if you snag a Black Hills Coupon Book, you can visit them for even less. There are also many attractions that have lower prices in the off season, or host locals appreciation days.
The winter holiday season is another time when many families have a hard time staying on budget. We all want to treat our kids to a magical holiday season. However, your family’s long-term financial success is more important than any Christmas gift or fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Try keeping gifts to a minimum, or give the gift of an experience. Studies show that giving experiences as gifts brings people more happiness than material possessions, and you can all go as a family. You can also do budget-friendly holiday activities at home rather than going out shopping.
Get Your Kids on Board
Teaching your kids about budgeting will help them understand money better, and it’s a lifelong skill that will set them up for success. You can start out by giving young kids an allowance — how they earn it is up to you — and have them run their own mini budget. You can also set them up with kid-friendly money apps that help them track their spending and saving habits.
Don’t think your kids will be into budgeting? You might be surprised! Check out this Amazing Kids feature where four girls in Summerset came up with a budget to buy and run their own ice cream truck! There are plenty of ways your kids can make their own money, which will help them understand the value of money and hard work.
Once your kids are teenagers, you can really solidify their budgeting skills. We even asked local expert Calvin M. Sievers for tips when you’re ready to teach your teen about money management. From getting their first summer job to learning to set up their own accounts, giving your teenager tools to manage their money is a great lifelong skill. And while you’re talking about life skills, it never hurts to talk about saving for college.
Family Budget Resources in the Black Hills
Living in the Black Hills means we have access to unique resources like outdoor recreation and family friendly attractions. While some come with a steep price tag, some of the most cherished family activities in the Black Hills are free. Places like Storybook Island and the D. C. Booth Fish Hatchery have been family favorites for generations.
There are also plenty of local resources to help with your day-to-day family budget needs. For the times you want to get out the house for a meal, check out our round up of free or bargain eats for your kids. Another one of our favorite places to grab a meal is Fork Real Cafe in Rapid City. They work on a pay what you can system, and also offer pre-made meals to go for when you’re too busy to cook. If it’s one of your kids’ birthdays, you can find even more freebies and discounted meals; it’s the perfect excuse to get out and celebrate! Some are geared toward adults, so why not celebrate yourself too?
Eating healthy meals at home doesn’t have to break your budget, either. You can find great deals by joining local co-ops, shopping at bulk stores, or buying directly from farmers and ranchers in the area. Likewise, if you find your clothing budget getting stretched further than sweat pants at Thanksgiving, there are local ways to stretch your family clothing budget.
Know a Black Hills family budget resource we missed? Have a great trick that keeps your family on track? We’d love to hear it! Find us on Facebook or simply tag us with #blackhillsparent.