Let me start this post on budgeting by saying I am no finance expert. The point of this blog is to share things we do in our home that keep us on track in life and point us to the Lord. A budget is one of these things, and it is a foundation for so much! So many couples we know do not have a budget or fight about money, or do not even share their money like a family, they keep it separate. So here are my thoughts and tips on the Family Budget.
Why Would I Need a Budget?
If you have no plans in life and do not want to have any plans or goals in life, then you probably do not need a budget. However, if you would like to one day retire (or your spouse), pay for your children’s college, go on a vacation, give money to those in need, own your house, eat food, etc. A budget is a good idea. In general people spend what they make, so unless you are the actual creator of money, there is a limit to your ability to spend. So yes, to have any goals or plan in life, a budget is extremely helpful.
My role as the family manager requires so much, and if I do not slot out time for this role in my schedule I do not believe I would succeed.
Defining Your Role
I started this process by writing down what it meant to be a family manager, what is my job description. Here is what I came up with:
“The role of Family Manager: The family manager will develop and carry out strategies to accomplish short term and long term goals that are developed as a team by the CEO (husband) and manager (wife) of the household, using God as their ultimate source of wisdom and direction. The manager should encourage, inspire, and motivate the family to move forward together towards the the long term goals.”
Part of household management is financial management. We work together on our finances in our house and work to be in agreement on our budget and plan, but my husband handles the bulk of the financial management since finances are his passion. He was kind enough to share some of his passion with us in the following post.
Real Cost of Money
The vast majority of Americans save the minimum percentage recommended for retirement or less of their income for retirement. The rest is spent on “stuff”. Stuff may refer to: a house (or two), a $30,000 car, electronic gadgets (+expensive contract in the case of Verizon/AT&T), a boat, or other things to fill a basement.
It is easy to justify spending the vast majority of our income, because, we already saved for retirement (up to 15%). This is based on the premise that we are going to work until we are 65 years old. Rather than asking, do I have the money for this, a better question is: how much more do I have to work if I purchase this item. I like to think of money in terms of time commitment rather.
It is the Christmas season! Some years we exchange gifts, some we don’t . Some years I have a gift exchange or other ladies I want to get a small gift for. If you are looking for some ideas for small gifts, this is one of my favorite kitchen tools that is relatively inexpensive.
It is a manual food processor, the price runs ~$12-20. I use this to chop onions, carrots, peppers, garlic, nuts (does a fine chop), potatoes etc. It does a fine rough chop. I usually peel (if necessary) my vegetable, then cut it into big chunks to fit, put the lid on, pull the handle, and in a matter of seconds it is chopped! There are many manual food processors available. I recommend the pull/spin design as opposed to the “pump” design.
It is 4:30, everyone is up from nap time, you are exhausted and your husband will be home soon… starving, and you have no plan for dinner. Do you:
Call him and ask him to pick up some take out
Slap some PB & J together and call it good
give the kids some play dough and whip up a quick 30 minute meal
Take a meal out of the freezer and make a side to go with it
Every answer is the right choice, that is assuming your family is enjoying meal time, remaining healthy, and you are staying in budget. If you are struggling to get dinner on the table, or your budget is tight, or your health is suffering etc. freezer meals may be one step in the right direction.
Since we are a team and life is a classroom you will often find my little ones helping me in the kitchen. Working together also makes cooking fun, well usually. While I would also like to say it improves the eating habits of my children, I am not so sure. I have 2 very picky eaters–they only eat bread and dessert. Maybe their eating preferences would be even worse if they were not helping me and experiencing all this culinary excitement, maybe they would cut out the bread and just go to straight desserts?? Who knows.
Either way, they love helping and I think it is great experience for them and quality time for us (plus if they are with me helping, they aren’t making a mess while I work). My children usually joined me in the kitchen around 18 months. They would get a tall step stool and help me dump ingredients into a mixing bowl, occasionally I would let them stir, but that didn’t usually work out too well until they were almost 2 or older.
Whenever I am in the kitchen cooking I will hear stools and chairs being pushed up next to where I am. There is joy found in the kitchen when we work together. Start small and progress from there; as your children show maturity you can increase their responsibilities. Here is a summary of what my children help with when we cook:
My children are always developing their skills and creating artistic masterpieces. I love to look at them and see my children grown and learn, but the amount of masterpieces created is a little overwhelming, especially from 3 budding artists! So what’s a loving mother to do?
Here is what happens to these beautiful creations in our house:
Masterpiece is shown to daddy and possibly taken with him to his office
Masterpieces that don’t make the daddy cut are displayed in a designated area (ours is in the play room using the Ikea curtain wire and clips, which can be found on Amazon)
Once the display is full my children sit on a chair surrounded by their masterpieces while I snap a photo
Extra special masterpieces are saved for The Memory Box, not so special pieces go in the garbage (usually during quiet time)
Photos taken of the child and masterpieces are printed and put either in their photo album or join the extra special masterpieces in the memory box
Start over at #1
The Memory Box
This can take whatever form you want. Maybe a shoe box for each child that they decorate, or a large tote if you want to keep larger items (not just artwork) in the box as well. I just started using a portable file box. You can find these boxes in varying sizes and styles. Each child has their own file in the box for their masterpieces.
I keep our memory box tucked away somewhere to look at on special occasions. Looking back at their creations is a great way for them to visually see how they have grown and changed and what they have accomplished. Looking back also brings fond memories and can re-teach lessons already learned.