Finances are a family affair, and there’s no better time than the New Year to take stock of your spending and saving. Call a family meeting and start working together to spend wiser, save more and work toward financial goals together.
Here are some conversation starters.
What are we paying for that we’re not really using? Start by taking a careful look at your monthly bills, and then have an honest conversation with each family member to see where cuts can be made. Does your daughter even still enjoy her ballet lessons, or is she more into her school’s drama club (which is free!)? Perhaps it’s worth looking into a family membership to a local YMCA or similar club instead of paying for individual gym memberships, swim club privileges, etc. When’s the last time any of you actually watched movies on the movie channels that are part of your cable subscription? If you’re not utilizing a service, get rid of it, and put the savings away or toward paying off a debt.
Set some party limits. Sometimes the party invitations seem to never end. If you have school-aged kids, or just have a large family, it can feel like every week is another birthday, shower, wedding or some other celebration. All of this is happy stuff, of course, but there’s also an associated expense whether it’s bringing a gift, needing something formal to wear or perhaps getting your hair done. If party season has you broke, try to make an agreement that you can’t say yes to every event or find ways to be creative with gift giving. As for extended family with whom you’ve always exchanged presents, consider if having a conversation about gift limits will help save throughout the year.
Make a pact to save together. Breaking out of the credit card impulse shopping habit and actually putting money away toward a desired purchase is a great example to set for your kids. On that note, when you encourage them to save their allowance toward a purchase of their own, they’ll understand and appreciate the value of things. And for big family outings, like a weekend away or a trip to the amusement park, why not have everyone start contributing their spare change to a savings jar?
Work some frugality into your home. Wouldn’t we all love designer things, the latest tech gadgets, frequent dinners at nice restaurants? But in reality, that lifestyle can’t be sustained on a middle class family income. Clipping coupons, waiting for sales, buying store brands, taking on DIY projects around the home and accepting hand-me-downs from family and friends are wise practices. If you’re not already doing such things, start small and watch the savings grow.
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