3 Steps for Paring Down the Family Budget

In harsh economic times, the number of families who find themselves hard pressed for cash increases. As individuals lose jobs, the number of families who live from paycheck to paycheck and on less each week than they are used to has increased drastically over the past several years. For those in this situation or those who just want to cut back a bit on their family budget and save some cash for emergencies, here are some tips for reducing the family budget.

1. Prioritize

Making sure that everyone knows what is the most important to the family as a whole is key to successfully trimming the family budget. This can be very different for each individual family. For some, this may include just the basics: food, shelter, and occasionally clothing. For others, this may include things, such as books for school, occasional recreational reading, or even money for a vacation. Whatever is important to the family is fine but making a list and estimating the cost of each item can help keep the family in budget.

2. Trim

The next step is to look at the areas of the budget and household that can be cut back. Again, this is will be varied from family to family but here a few common examples. Cutting back on cable and internet packages, setting the thermostat to a money-saving level (up in the summer, down in the winter), adjusting cell phone plans, eliminating home phones, cutting down on subscriptions, cut back on eating out, etc. There are many ways to either eliminate things that are no longer prioritized on the list, such as movies out and DVR’s/TiVo, and then cut back on things that are important to the family but could still be enjoyed on a smaller level (vacations, phone and television plans, etc). Coupling the prioritized list with what the family is currently using can really cut back on spending and increase savings.

3. Save

Finally, families can save money when they do have to spend money. One major expense that families cannot avoid is food. Everyone must eat and food is very expensive. One way to cut down on the cost of a trip to the grocery store is by planning out meals and available snacks for the family and making a strict list that is followed while shopping at the store. Checking the local paper for ads, weekly deals, and coupons while making this list can lead to even more savings. Buying smart and planning ahead can be applied to many other items besides just food. Planning out purchases in advance limits those who are likely to pull out the Visa whenever they see something they like.

It is always a good time to start cutting back on excess spending. Especially with an oscillating economy like the United States has experience the past few years. Always be conscience with money spent on unnecessary things. Slowly take these things out of the budget in order to cut needless expenses. Pare down the family budget and save for when it will be needed the most.

Ashley Russell

Ashley Russell

Ashley Russell is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is double majoring in Journalism and English with a minor in Information Systems. After she graduates in the spring of 2013, she hopes to continue to work for the UNC system. Her ultimate goal is to become a book editor. She recently worked as an intern at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education in Raleigh, North Carolina, researching and writing articles, as well as building two new websites for college applicants and alumni. She now works for the Medical Foundation of North Carolina as an office assistant and web designer. She opens the office every morning and takes care of the daily tasks and scheduling. She also uses her down time at work to create fundraising web pages that benefit the hospitals in the UNC-Chapel Hill area.

Ashley Russell is a North Carolina native, hailing from Kings Mountain. She is a diehard Carolina fan who loves to watch her team play in any sport—a Tar Heel born and bred. She loves to read and write in her free time. Since high school, she has known she wanted to pursue a career that involved both reading and writing. However, she has recently discovered a love for computers, so she also hopes to incorporate them into her career. She spends her free time tutoring k-5 students in reading and writing in the Chapel Hill area. She is a second-year captain of a Relay for Life team and a participant in Dance Marathon 2011. She is also the online webmaster for the Blue & White magazine based out of Chapel Hill.
Ashley Russell

Latest posts by Ashley Russell (see all)