Raising kids in the 21st century during a global pandemic feels very similar to being a trapeze artist walking a tightrope. We’ve got soaring real estate prices and rental costs, extracurricular activities, education savings, increasing grocery bills, and subscriptions for everything. Finding a way to continue the show keeps parents anxiously teetering and worried of falling.
Household finances are not static nor are they always predictable—but they are never-ending. Let’s look at how a budget can provide the balance, stability, and safety needed for a successful circus act called parenting.
Start by looking beyond the current month. Throughout the year there are birthdays, celebrations, vacations, rainy days, and in the case of the past 12 months, lockdowns and they all need to be considered for to achieve balance. Putting a small contribution aside each month for these upcoming events (whether you know the date to expect them or not) will provide additional safety up on that tightrope.
Getting to the other side requires focus—always look where you are going, not where you’ve come from. A budget is your guide to get where you’re going, but you first need to know where that is. Set clear goals with realistic timelines to offer the clarity necessary to keep going.
You’ll need to practice. Creating a balanced budget takes more than a pen, paper, and calculator nowadays. Just when you think you’ve got it all right, someone throws you one more ball to juggle. Commit to several drafts before choosing the budget you’ll work with and come back to review it on a regular basis to update as necessary.
Make sure you seek out equipment that fits and makes you feel safe. This is equally as important with your money as it would be if you were flying through the air. Some like to keep it simple with pen and paper while others prefer one of the several budgeting apps now available. If your equipment doesn’t fit, you’ll never feel comfortable to come back month after month.
Simple tips for a successful budget:
• Plan for “future you”: annual insurance premiums, sports registration, Christmas shopping, summer vacation, Spring Break camps, back-to-school shopping, car maintenance, house maintenance, vet expenses, etc.
• Cancel unnecessary subscriptions: Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, Chefs Plate, Amazon Prime, DropBox, Beachbody, FabFitFun.
• Set clear and realistic goals: what do you want and when do you want it.
• Plan your meals: use what you have in your pantry and freezer first.
• Stick to your grocery budget: aim for $50 per week per person.
Set your eyes on the horizon, keep putting on foot in front of the other, and trust that you will make it to the other side.
For free budget templates and lessons, visit prettymoneyclub.com/budgetmakeover.