The days ahead of our country will have everyone home-bound. With schools and businesses closing their doors, many families are struggling to stretch their food budget. Groceries are flying off the shelves faster than employees can stock them. Before you buy supplies for the weeks ahead, consider these three tips for meal planning for a family on a budget.
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.
There are times when things will be inevitably tight around the house. When you are the only mouth to feed, it is easier to understand your current situation. However, as you dive into the family life, budgeting is not so easy to comprehend if you aren’t the one paying the bills.
Growing up, my parents were always very open about our financial situation at different times in my adolescence. They made sure to include my sister and I on what was happening very early on, and I am so glad that they did. At first, I had a hard time understanding, but as I got older, it began to make more sense.
The less involved the family is with finances, the less they will understand. It can be difficult for your growing kids to see why they can’t get those new clothes they want or go to the movies with their friends. The term “money doesn’t grow on tress” may not be enough to get them on the same page. Now is a great time to not only teach them, but show them the value of a dollar.
Making household budgeting a family affair will set positive habits for the future as well. So, how can you get the family involved?
Organize the information
Prior to holding a family meeting to discuss finances, gather up all of your bills and household expenses. This includes groceries, gas, car and house payments and so on. Also include those expenses that are not monthly but may only be quarterly or annually. Be fully prepared to also answer any questions about money that your kids may have.
Be open and honest
Lay everything out on the line. Don’t try to hide anything from your family, even if the news does not look so hot. This is the first step in everyone grasping the reality of the financial situation rather than their fantasy. By hiding certain pieces of information, they may feel money exists where it doesn’t and the problem will continue.
Show them what’s left
Try to have a personal spreadsheet of the expenses and income in the home to really make the point visible. List the pay dates and how each expense is paid. This will be a great way to actually show them what is left each month.
Encourage applying for jobs
Should you have a teen that is old enough, encourage them to get a job so that they can fund their own entertainment. Household chores are an excellent way to earn an allowance, but not all families have the finances to even provide such. I had my first job when I was 15 working in a greenhouse. It was seasonal from spring to early fall, so it worked out well with my school schedule. This taught me personally how to save money as I would save up my paychecks over the course of the months to use throughout the year.
Get everyone’s input
It may be wise to share the budgeting system you have in place for your home. I was around 10 years old when I began to understand that money was not endless and that some months were more difficult than others. Depending on the age of your children, you could ask for their input and have them be a part of the household budgeting process. Your kids may end up having more ways you can end up with more money at the end of each month by being willing to give up some of their own desires. It is likely that through this process, everyone would be willing to give up those additional unnecessary expenses like satellite TV so that you can do even more with the family income.
Younger children may not fully understand, but you can still find ways to show and teach them that your money supply is not endless. (Be on the look out for an article in the future about this topic.)
Your financial situation may not even be bad, but still informing the family of what is coming in and out will help enhance the household budgeting. Budgeting is never really a comfortable topic, but when you include the family, everyone begins to take on more responsibility. You’ll most likely find some pressure alleviated off of you as well.
How do you handle household budgeting in your own home?
Jenn Clark is a writer, PR specialist, entrepreneur, blogger and coffee enthusiast. A lover of laughter, traveling and cheese, she’s written about her life experiences here at suburbanfinance while at the same time growing other young professionals. You can find more of her work at Jennblogs.co.