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How to Make and Maintain a Family Budget

Money management tips to ensure your family is financially successful every step of the way.

Family money management isn’t much different from managing a budget as a single person or even as a couple. Your biggest concerns are where your expenses are and whether you need to rethink your spending habits. But in this case you just need to involve more people.

The areas that take up the most of a family budget are housing, transportation and food. Depending on the cost of living in your specific city, it could vary, but these are the big three areas where families should concentrate the most when creating a household budget. But the best tip for family budgeting is to be as detailed as possible. Nothing is too small when it comes to staying on top of family spending.

Basic Family Budget Template offers a free family budget planner worksheet that can help you start thinking about your monthly budget. Use it to fill out your expenses to see where your family is spending the most money, and where you might be able to save.

How to Make a Budget

The family budget planner provided above can help you create a family budget worksheet for the month. Understand that each family’s budget will differ depending on their personal situation. Look at your bank statements to find out exactly how much money is deposited on a monthly basis and put that number at the top. Then look through those statements and your credit card statements to make a list of what you spend each month.

Do this for a few months to see if you can identify any spending patterns of monthly costs for items on the budget that vary. Once you have your family budget for a month, you can figure out your budget plan for the year by estimating your costs and expenses as well as how much you can potentially save. You can set target spending in two ways:

  1. Take an average of 3 months of spending in a particularly and set the average as your target spending amount.

  2. For bills that fluctuate seasonally, review the bills from the past year to find the most expensive month. Then set that as your target.

You’ll also notice on’s family budget planner that savings is included as a budgeted line item. Including target savings in your budget is proven to help families save money, rather than leaving savings for what’s left at the end of the month. Determine how much you can afford to save each month, then make it a line item in your budget. It’s like a bill you pay yourself!

Money Management for Families

Running a family is more than just monthly expenses. It’s also extracurricular activities, babysitters, back-to-school shopping, family vacations and holiday spending. Managing your money responsibly is one of the most important aspects of budgeting. A family needs to always put the costs of running the household first.

Back to School and Holiday Spending

It’s important to think about other big spending events that occur annually and make sure you prepare for those in advance as well. If you know you will need to buy new clothes, shoes and school supplies for your children come fall, planning six months ahead should give you enough stashed away to afford what you need without feeling the financial pinch.

It’s the same for holiday spending. It can be really helpful to buy gifts throughout the year, if you are able to. This way when the holidays come around, you already have a stash of gifts put away and aren’t plunking down a small fortune or stressing out over not being able to get the perfect gift for your loved ones. Setting up a predetermined budget for spending also helps. This way you aren’t going overboard no matter what time of year it is.

Don’t forget vacation planning!

Once you feel everything has been budgeted and accounted for, then a family can begin budget planning for things like extracurricular activities and vacations. The average cost for a family vacation for four is anywhere between $1,798 and $4,300 depending on where you are headed and for how long, obviously. A recent study from NerdWallet had parents spending an average $2,256 on their family vacations.

That kind of expense often requires diligent saving techniques and planning in advance to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Planning a family vacation on a budget allows you to really look at all the expenses involved in going somewhere and anticipate your costs. This helps you to know how much you’ll need to save in order to take a trip to, Disney World, for example.

Taking a family vacation can be an important bonding tool for families and one that should be worked into a budget at the beginning of each year, or whenever your family modifies their budget. This is true even if your family is faced with debt.

Family Debt Management

It can be difficult managing family needs when there is debt involved. But it’s important to create a budget to prioritize your most important expenses and debts so that you can work to get out of debt. Managing debt effectively is essential so you can focus on saving for things like your children’s education and your own retirement.

Budgeting is important when looking to get your family out of debt. See where you can potentially cut back on expenses. Often, you can find ways to reduce necessary expenses, like food, to free up money for paying off debt.

Let us help you get started with a plan that works for your family and finances.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Longleaf Wealth Management Group, LLC and LPL Financial are separate entities.



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