A great place to start is to review last year's budget. Here are some questions I ask myself when looking over the family budget -
* Did we over spend in any areas ?
* Did we waste money on unnecessary purchases ?
* Did we buy too much of something ?
* Can we cut back in some ( or all ) areas of our budget ?
* Do we need to increase some areas of the budget ?
* What are our goals for the coming year ?
* Did we reach our savings goal for the items we wanted / needed ? If not, how soon can we save for it ?
Asking these questions gives me a chance to review and adjust the budget where needed. Budgets should not be set in stone. They need to be flexable to accomodate the needs of the family ( within reason ). Take some time over the next couple of weeks to set up your yearly budget.. Remember to include all categories to reflect your spending habits.
When it comes to household bills, it's always good to increase the amount put aside each week / fortnight / month. Many utility providers increase their charges in the new year. To keep on top of thses increases, putting an extra 10% aside is a great place to start. Maybe this is a great time to set up direct debits for each category.
The new year is the perfect time to review your present / gift giving budget. Things change through the year. Friends and family come and go, extra special occasions come up that require a bigger present. Maybe you would like to give to certain charities. Building this into your present budget ensures that you have the money available to bless others.
I write all the occasions to buy for in an exercise book. One page is for birthdays, anniversaries, father's and mother's days etc etc. They are all written in order of the date during the year. The page opposite is for the Christmas presents I need to buy. When I review the present / gift budget, I look over the presents I gave the previous year. By doing this, I'm reminded of the presents that were well received and the bargains I found. It's also a good way to avoid buying the same thing year in year out for the same person.
Just recently I went through all my stored up presents. Everything was placed in order of giving on the present shelf. Post- it notes were put on each present with the receiver's name, occasion and year. Because I buy a couple of years in advance, I need to record the date to be given. Once I've gone through the presents and recorded everything in my exercise book, I write out a list of items I still need to buy. This list goes into my handbag, ready to snap up those fabulous bargains.
A new year could mean a new food budget. If you were spending too much money on rubbish food, a new budget could be in order. Taking the time to review your eating habits could set you up for a healthier year. Remember, a budget is not set in stone so if you need to make adjustments, now is the time to do it.
If you have a savings goal in mind, how will you reach that goal ? Do you need to set up direct debits into an online bank account ? Working out the weekly, fortnightly or monthly amount then setting up the direct debit will ensure you reach your goal. We all want financial success so a little planning goes a long way.
Do you have an emergency account ? Do you have the money set aside to replace the washing machine, fridge, freezer, car tyres, heating and cooling ? You know these things don't last forever so saving for them needs to be a continual part of your budget. Work out how much it costs to replace the items. Then work out how much you need to save for them in 1, 2, 5 or 10 years time.
Do you have a savings plan to replace your car / s ? Buying a car can be the second biggest expense other than buying a home. Car savings also needs to be a continual part of the family budget. That's how Darren and I have been able to buy our cars without ever having a car loan or paying interest.