Creating a perfect budget is a task I don’t take lightly. I’m constantly working on trying to tweak ours. Five years ago, we were on the fast track to financial freedom, and following all of the steps Dave Ramsey outlines in his books. Of course, the thing about a budget is it’s constantly changing, and if you’re not reevaluating on a regular basis, it can quickly get out of control. I’ve read all kinds of information about budgeting, and that last piece of information was no secret to me.
What I didn’t count on was the fact that the kids’ “portion” of the budget would be changing consistently, and THAT specific aspect of our budget would require the most tweaking. I wish I had read a list of things to include in a family budget. Granted, every family’s budget will be different, and you’ll have to make things work for you. It would’ve been nice to have at least have clued in a little sooner.
Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s not like things changed overnight with them, but when you’re knee deep in kid stuff, and life, it’s really just another thing you need to have on your radar. (Just to be clear, I did not have day care on MY budget, AND my kids play one of the most expensive sports they could play. Although, I’m certain there are other sports, and activities which cost just as much, or more!)
Anyhow, hopefully this list helps you create a budget that works for your family!
Things to include in a family budget
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1. Mortgage/ rent
This is pretty obvious but include all taxes when you’re budgeting this one.
2. Phone Payment
These days a phone payment can take up a good chunk of your budget, especially if you’re a cell phone house (like we are), and you’re paying for more than one cell phone. Also, keep in mind, you will likely have to adjust this at some point if you’re children don’t yet own a phone.
4. Natural Gas
5. Water/ Sewage
6. Home Maintenance
When I am really sticking to a strict budget, this is something I budget for every month. Then regardless of whether I am using it each month or not, it’s rolling over into the next month. Typically, I determine the number based on what I spent the previous year, and if I have any idea of additional repairs, etc that will need to be done in the upcoming year. I take that number divide by 12, and that’s what I set aside every month.
The problem comes in when I haven’t budgeted other things, and I end up having to “steal” from this pile…
8. Cable/ Satellite
10. Car Payment/ Public transportation
As with the home maintenance, when I am being strict about my budget (I would love to say I always am, but I am better some times than others), I will set aside the same amount of money every month/ week, and allow it to roll over for weeks when we are traveling more.
11. Car Maintenance
Same as home maintenance.
Budget all insurances- home, life, car, and health.
Remember to adjust for kids being home for the summer, and other instances when your grocery budget would need to go up. Here are some great ways to save money on groceries without using coupons.
14. Student Loans
15. Day Care/ Preschool tuition/ School tuition
16. Doctor’s Visits/ Medicine
Just like home/ car maintenance, I try to take a set amount out every month to cover this regardless of whether we use it or not. Unfortunately, this can be one of the quickest things I go to when I need to pull from something, and then I am left without a fund when I need it. Everything sort of circles back around. I’ve found it really backfires when I don’t account for everything.
17. Credit cards
If you have them, you’ve got to budget for them.
No matter how big or small your vacation is, it’s important to budget for it. Family vacations are so important to us.
Budget for general care, and vet expenses.
Somehow, I always seem to want to leave these out. $10 here, $12 there, it seems like no big deal, but can add up quickly. Think of services like Amazon Prime (here are 14 reasons NOT to sign up for Amazon Prime), Netflix, Hulu, Birchbox, $5 meal plans (if you’re not already subscribed to this- you can get 2 free weeks here!), etc.
22. Kids Activities/ Sports
This was the biggest hole in my budget. I had added it, but I wasn’t setting aside enough because it goes beyond just team fees. Be sure to add any travel fees, extras- costumes, uniforms, etc, equipment/ instruments, lessons, any expenses associated with the activity.
23. Kid Miscellaneous
Again, kids are expensive!!! Having a miscellaneous category helps for all of those things that come up unexpectedly. Birthday parties, special treats, snack day, etc.
I use this for things like cleaning supplies, donations, anything I don’t feel needs an entire category of it’s own.
Did I miss anything? What would you add?