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Establishing an Effective Family Budget

Kaleido

Written by: Kaleido

March 7, 2022

It’s a fact that people who are single don’t manage their personal budgets in the same way that a family does. Financially, families and single people don’t have the same mid-term or long-term goals. It is therefore logical that their monthly budgets are managed according to different priorities and are divided into different categories. In the context of a family, kids are a financial game-changer and their futures must be taken into account as early as possible, notably in the form of investment in an education savings plan!

What Is a Family Budget?

An individual (or a couple) can have numerous sources of revenue such as: a salary or fees received as compensation for work rendered, one or more pensions, retirement plan payments, family allowances, unemployment benefits, rental incomes, alimony, etc.

A family budget refers to the ensemble of the above-mentioned revenues minus the total expenses of the individual (or of the couple) and their family. Usually, the budget is calculated monthly and requires sound money management.

Revenue mostly goes toward paying fixed costs, some of which vary in amount; some which don’t. They include rent, mortgage, food, clothing, various bills, subscriptions (cable, phone, internet), transportation, insurance, etc. But revenue also covers a host of other expenses, which can be quite numerous for people with kids; and therein lies the need to establish a reliable and detailed budget so that we may always have the funds at the ready for these expenses, and so that we can prevent unpleasant surprises.

How to Establish a Family Budget and Better Manage Your Money

To make a family budget, you simply need to be organized and have a good system for planning your spending so that it doesn’t exceed your revenues. Here are a few tips to maintain a balance between money coming in, and money going out:

  • be aware of unnecessary expenditures and of luxury items that can easily be replaced by more affordable ones,
  • take stock of your credit cards and (even dare to) cancel some of them, especially the more costly ones,
  • pay off all of your debts or, if this is not possible, stagger your payments. There are certainly a number of possible ways to lower the monthly payments.
  • look closely at the costs of your subscriptions and membership fees (insurance, phone, cable, internet, gym, and others). It is often worth the effort of comparing prices with the competition as it can lead to substantial savings,
  • plan your savings at the start of the month. If you wish to contribute to an RRSP or an RESP, the best way is to include that amount in your budget.

There exist financial products to help you get the most out of your revenues like, for example, an RESP. To find out how an RESP can be integrated into your family budget, use our RESP calculator.

This simple tool will help you calculate how much your child’s postsecondary education could cost.

Takes about 5 min.

The Family Budget Calculator

To assist you in establishing your family budget, the Canadian Federal Government has made a budget planner available to you. This tool can provide the guidance you’ll need in this endeavor.

You’ll note that your expenses are divided into three main categories: fixed costs (those that recur every month like rent, utilities, or phone), running costs (these include essential items like food, clothing, or transportation), and special costs (as their name implies, these are one-off, and often unexpected costs like special equipment, repairs, family events, etc.).

These categories allow you to get a better overview of your monthly expenses, and in turn, to plan better overall, and to anticipate unforeseen events.

Kaleido has also put a similar tool at your disposal. It was created by our partner who specializes in family finances, and it can be of great help to you in planning your budget, as well managing your finances effectively and easily.

Download the budgeting tool

Our Advice for Managing Your Family Budget Proficiently

The following is an outline of a few resources that we propose to help you establish your family budget.

  • Evaluate Your Needs
    Make a list of your monthly needs and obligatory expenses. Calculating the sum total of your required expenses allows you to establish how much you need in order to meet your basic financial obligations for a one-month period, for example.

  • Establish Your Priorities
    List your expenses in order of priority. Identifying the important expenses and the more superfluous ones allows you to reduce certain expenses, and maybe even to eliminate some of them.

  • Plan for Saving
    Start saving at the beginning of the month. Decide on the amount that you can save and put it aside at the start of the month. This will allow you to establish a reserve fund for emergencies and future plans and projects.

  • Spend Wisely
    Make sure to always find the best prices in order to get the most out of your money. You can, for example, compare shop on various sites or take advantage of rebates and discounts.

  • Check Market Prices
    Reevaluating your phone or your home and car insurance rates on a regularly basis allows you to always obtain the best prices on the market and to never pay more than you have to.

  • Find out if You Are Eligible for any Government Benefits
    The Quebec and Canadian Governments can provide financial help to families in various ways. You may be eligible for certain benefits and it would be a shame not to take advantage of them. You might even qualify for a CLB! To find out more, contact us.

  • Make Sure that the State of Your Finances is Viable
    Review your finances on a regular basis to make sure that your expenses do not exceed your revenues. If they do, it’s important to reconsider and lower your spending, and rebalance your budget as quickly as possible.

Get More for Your Money

There is no doubt that a well-managed budget allows you to get more for your money. It ensures that your spending is under control and that you save wisely for the future, whether it is for specific projects, your retirement, or for your children’s education. The less you leave to chance; the more you are in control of your money. Placing your money wisely can yield interest and government grants. And let’s not forget tax credits and other such benefits for which you may qualify. In short, your money can multiply!

For example, if you invest in an RESP, you qualify for a Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG), which generates 20% to 40% of the amount contributed over a year to an RESP for an admissible beneficiary in interest, up to a lifetime cap of $7,200. A nice boost for your nest egg and another good reason to save up for your children’s education!

 

Don’t leave your finances to chance. You work hard for your money so you deserve to make it work for you and to get the most out of it. A well-managed budget is the key to being financially sound. It requires a certain amount of discipline, and at times, you’ll have to make some compromises, but in the end, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

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