Having kids is expensive. I am not sure there is much else to say about that, it is just a cold hard fact. Diapers, formula, soccer gear, daycare, school tutors, college funds – byeeeee money! Getting on the same page as your partner to save for the future is important to your financial well-being, especially with a family in mind!
Here are a few easy tips to get you started:
1. Get Serious
This isn’t dropping a birthday card off in the mail late and hoping it arrives in time. Just waiting to see what happens, figuring it will work itself out, is a mistake.
Budgeting is saving enough money to pay for college, not losing your house in an unexpected emergency, being able to keep your job when your car dies, or being able to retire without having to pill ration. Hell, this is moving to Boca and retiring at 65 instead of working yourself to the bone at 78.
Honestly, it is not going to just work out by itself and betting on your winning lotto ticket isn’t super smart. So let us go through the steps of this sad fact – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally- accept it and conquer it.
2. Sit Down and Set Financial Goals
Get with your partner (as applicable) and start working through the process.
What are you short-term and long-term financial goals?
Savings for college funds?
Getting out of debt?
If you are savvy, Coda.io to create your own customizable budgeting outline and tool. If you are more of a pen and paper kind of person, that works too! Just do whatever will actually work for you.
Be both realistic about your needs and honest about your ability to get there when setting your future goals.
3. Don’t Rely on Your Credit Cards
To save, you are going to have to stop racking up interest with loans or relying on credit cards for more debt. If it helps, cut up your credit cards and start using a cash system or set a limit online for your card.
Get out of the mindset that you can use credit and loans to get through, that might be an emergency and short-term solution but that will not help you reach future goals.
4. Save for the Future
Before you start making a full-fledged budget:
– Assess if your company/employer offers a 401K or if you can contribute to a Roth IRA or other savings accounts for retirement pre-tax.
– Look into FSA and HSA plans through your company for medical expenses.
– Consider a 529 plan for education. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan for future education costs. According the SEC website the definition of 529 plan: “legally known as ‘qualified tuition plans are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.” You can read more about them here!
– Are there other pre-tax deductions you can make? Consider your options here.
5. Make a Budget
You are ready to make a budget if you now know the deductions you will be taking for any pre-tax savings (retirement or education plans). You’ll then be able to truly know what your take home pay will be.
Back-out things like rent/mortgage, home insurance, health and car insurance, utilities, car payments, daycare, and other hard and necessary costs first. Then work in your necessary but softer costs (things like diapers, food, gas, etc.).
Allocate how much cash you will then be putting towards your savings goals.
Once you have completed this exhaustive list, you can see what you actually have left to work with for fun, entertainment, travel, new clothing, etc. If you are overdoing it by this line, you need to revisit ways to save on things like groceries (buying in bulk helps!) and other impactful numbers. You might also need to consider other ways to bring in more income on the side.
6. Track your Spending
Tracking your dollars out is super key! It will not only make you more aware of your spending habits and influences your decision making, but it will help you understand how and when you could save moving forward! Even something as small as cutting your Starbucks habit from 7-days a week to 3 or 4 days a week could be hundreds of dollars a year in savings! Try the app everydollar or making your own tracker in coda.io
7. Continue On
Budgeting is an active, fluid thing. Your allocations and budgets will fluctuating with jobs, moving, children, and other life events so keep your budget up-to-date and talk your partner regularly (even meet with each other once a week or month to go over your financial health). These discussion will include reviewing things like checking accounts, credit card statements, outstanding bills, savings accounts, financial goals, and new ways to save (like cutting cable), etc.
8. Don’t Give Up
If you fall off the wagon, get back on. Just because you slip in tracking your spending one day or week doesn’t mean the whole month is shot. Do your best to catch up and get back on the horse whenever you fall off. Hold each other accountable when applicable.