Frugal Family Budgeting Tips, and Printable!

It’s not how much you make, but what you do with what you've got. Proper money management does not involve a magic formula to find more money. It simply means getting the most from the money you do have.

However, for many people, the word "budget" evokes feelings of fear or frustration. Your budget is your plan for your money. It is based on choices you make and priorities that you identify. Once your budget is complete, it is the solid foundation in which you can manage your current income and expenses and plan for future possibilities/goals.

With all the demands of running a family, it's hard to find time to make a household budget -- especially if the amount of money left at the end of the month is less than you want. It's important to look household finances squarely in the eye, because that's the only way to control them; otherwise, they control you.

Budget creation takes time, so set aside at least a few hours. It's better to wait for a day when you don't have pressing obligations than to cobble together a plan that doesn't work.

Start with a goal. Maybe it's paying off debt, or perhaps it's a college fund. You don't have to justify your goal to anyone, and envisioning it can help keep you on track.

Bring Everything to the Table
Everything that shows incoming and outgoing money, such as earnings statements, receipts, bills and bank statements, has a place at the budget table. First, separate them into two categories for incoming and outgoing. You'll need a total for both categories. This is where many budgeters get a bit nervous, but don't be. The incoming amount might be smaller than the outgoing, but a budget will help you control that.

Find Out Where the Money Goes
The outgoing category needs more attention after you've got a grand total. The next step is breaking debits into subcategories. Yours might be Utilities (electric, water, etc.), Secured Debts (mortgage), Unsecured Debts (credit cards), and Discretionary Spending (lunch, clothing, etc.).

Discretionary spending adds up fast. A few dollars here for movie tickets and a few more there for dining out sometimes total more than a fixed bill that you pay every month. This is the subcategory where you can create the most change.

Control Discretionary Spending
With the numbers in black and white, you can approach the monthly budget more realistically. Discretionary spending might be the only category where you can find and divert money toward debt reduction and saving.

A tried and true way to manage discretionary spending is the envelope method. The money you allocate for everyday expenses goes into an envelope each month -- that's right, cash. Many budgeting experts recommend labeling envelopes for categories of face-to-face purchases – such as groceries, gasoline or pet supplies – and stuffing cash into them each month. Why? Because it forces you to see what you’re spending, and increases your likelihood to show more restraint.

Download the handy Budget Worksheet below, and be sure the check out 15 Tips on Frugal Living