Having a family can be expensive – from food to activities and schooling…the list of expenses goes on.
And having to juggle your expenses while taking care of a family can be a stressful and overwhelming experience.
If this sounds like you, you should consider using and committing to a family budget.
Without one, it can be hard to track your money and where it’s going, and you can easily overspend on things, accumulate debt and fail to achieve financial stability for your household.
Here are our top tips to use when creating a family budget.
What is a family budget?
A family budget is a plan outlining the amount of money that goes in to a household (income) and what comes out (expenses). It needs to consider everyone in your household and the common costs of family life such as schooling, healthcare and groceries.
Why should you create a family budget?
Once you start a family, your budget and expenses will change dramatically. It can be difficult to adjust to the increased expenses if you’ve never dealt with it before. This is where a family budget comes in.
A family budget can help you spend your money wisely and manage cash flow so you don’t run out of money each month. It can help you prioritise where your money goes so you can afford to meet the needs and wants of your family. Also, it’ll help you save money, pay off debt and be prepared if unexpected costs arise.
Our top tips for a family budget
- Work out what you spend your money on, and what is a necessity or a once off payment in a month.
- Calculate your income – this can include both your main income source and side hustle or investment income.
- Roughly add up all your weekly expenses, subtract this from your income and see how much is left over. While doing this, you should make sure you have enough leftover funds to help cover unexpected costs (such as medical emergencies or car breakdowns) and family ‘wants’.
- Set short-term and long-term financial goals as a family (if your children are old enough to partake).
- If your budget and actual costs don’t match up in your budget template, you should consider changing your budget values for the next month.
- Get the whole family involved. You can even teach your children a thing or two about managing money! The level of their involvement can be tailored their age and level of understanding of these concepts, but it can be very important to introduce the idea of budgeting to them in simple terms on early on, to help develop their financial skills later in life.
- Work out your priorities – Do you need to increase your savings? Do you need to pay off your debt?
- Be realistic with the goals and budget you are setting. If you set the bar too high too quickly it can be disheartening if you continuously blow over your budget and you’re more likely to give up altogether. It takes time and patience to adjust your spending habits and mindset. You can always aim to reduce spending a little bit at a time.
- Be honest with yourself about your spending habits and priorities, and where you can reduce expenses. If you need an extra push, you can always get an accountability partner involved to help you stay on track (there are some great apps for this as well).
Things to consider in a family budget
Each individual source of income will be taxed in Australia, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) tax rates below:
|Taxable income (2023-24 FY)||Tax on this income (2023-24 FY)|
|$0 – 18,200||Nil|
|$18,201 – $45,000||19c for each $1 over $18,200|
|$45,001 – $120,000||$5,092 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $45,000|
|$120,001 – $180,000||$29,467 plus 37c for each $1 over $120,000|
|$180,001 and over||$51,667 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000|
Different types of income will be taxed differently and have various tax implications, so it is important to always talk to your Aintree Group advisor for advice and assistance.
You may want to save for a car, house, family holiday or school fees and the best way to do this is by setting up a savings account or a term deposit (seperate from your everyday bank account). You should account for this in your budget.
Each month, you can set aside a portion of money to go towards your savings account/s and get closer to achieving one of your financial goals.
Most families will have to deal with credit card, mortgage and student loan debt.
Each month, you can set aside some money to go towards paying off your debt. This should be prioritised as the longer you leave debt unpaid, the more interest it will accumulate. You should account for this in your budget.
You should also minimise adding to your debt as much as possible. It can be hard to eliminate it completely, but you can cut down by sticking to your budget, and by avoiding getting sucked into Buy Now Pay Later schemes like AfterPay.
Some other expenses include:
- School expenses – fees, uniforms, stationary/books, camps, excursions
- Medical expenses – health insurance, ambulance cover, dentist, doctor, vaccinations
- Car expenses including petrol, registration and maintenance
- Car, home and contents, and life insurance
- Weekly Groceries
- Subscriptions to platforms like Netflix and Spotify
- Clothes and toys
- Extracurricular activities
- Utility bills
- Mortgage or rent
- Upcoming family holidays, including travel insurance
- Eating out and/or food delivery services such as Uber Eats
- Personal care
How to create a family budget and stick to it
- Calculate your income.
- Add up all your weekly or monthly expenses.
- Subtract your expenses from your income. This will indicate if you have any leftover funds or if your expenses outweigh your income (and therefore you will need to reduce your expenses).
- Choose a budget tracking method that suits you. This can be on paper, using excel, using a template (see ours below), or a budgeting app). It’s important to choose a method that is easily accessible to you, and tailored to the way you think and digest information – there’s no point creating a budget if it’s hidden somewhere where you won’t remember it.
- Choose a time period that the budget applies to (e.g. weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly). Often people will base their budget time period according to how often they get paid, but you can also base it on when certain big bills are due.
- Set the budget amounts in your template. You will need to approximately calculate how much you aim to budget based on the leftover fund estimate you got in step 3.*
- Get your children involved and discuss the importance of a budget with them and the reasoning for your monetary decisions.
- Create financial goals. These can include saving up for a house, car or holiday, paying off your credit card or HECs student debt, and building an emergency fund for unexpected costs.
- Track your progress on a weekly or monthly basis and be really honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. Think about how you can adjust your lifestyle or spending habits if needed. You can also change elements of the budget as your needs, goals and spending habits change – it doesn’t need to be set in stone.
*Australian households spent roughly $2,083 per week, according to ABS data. Finder has created a useful guide that you can use to set your budget amounts, showing the average weekly household spend, broken up into categories.
Aintree Group Family Budget Template
Download our family budget template below.
Our template expenses explained…
- Local travel – public transport (train, tram, bus)
- Health and recreation – gym, exercise classes
- Extracurricular activities – sport, music and art lessons
- Entertainment – shows and musicals, cinema, mini golf, bowling, arcade
- Personal care – haircut, nail appointment, laser hair removal
- Subscriptions – newspapers, streaming services, apps, cloud-storage
- Professional service fees – accountant, lawyer, financial advisor, mortgage broker, buyer’s advocate, real estate agent
- Unforeseen expenses – something unexpected that you didn’t budget for
Note: All elements in our template are suggestions only. You will not necessarily have all the expenses listed and you may even have to add some to match your family circumstances.
To discuss your family’s financial needs with an advisor, book in a free financial health check with Aintree Group Wealth today.