Thursday, October 18, 2012

Budgeting for Our New Life

When I started having babies, the plan was for me to stay home with them until at least they were all in school or we started homeschooling. I wanted to be able to be there for my kids like my mother was for my sister and I growing up. Financially, it made sense as well. Day care is not cheap. In the Atlanta area a reasonable day care for young children averages about $1400 a month for two children which would have mostly negated anything that I was able to pull in anyway. We squeaked by, barely, but we made it work.

Now I am facing a different kind of situation. As a newly single parent and responsible for almost all of this little family's wealth management, I have had to reorganize and re- prioritize. I would personally say its been an uphill battle but looking back at the things I have accomplished, I would also say that it is working! My boys are both attending preschool and are involved in sports which they were unable to do previously because of limited funds.

The first thing I did to help us, was to set up a firm budget and learn not to stray from it. At the beginning the budget was ridiculously sparse. As time has gone on though, I have learned not to count on certain things and learned to accept legal help when offered. Now, my budget allows for things to flex and move as needed but it is set to where I can't slip up and make that one small mistake that costs us the means to live comfortably. Things are still very tight so its important to not end up with fees that are always bad, bad news.

Of course a big part of my motivation is my boys. I want them to grow up in a secure household but I also want them to grow up money smart. I want to be able to show them the benefits of having a solid budget and saving for the things we want instead of making impulse purchases and breaking form.

I have started involving in them in some of the (age appropriate) household decisions. They do the grocery shopping with me and they pick out their own clothing with in a certain budget. Of course D understands this a lot more easily than K but he is a smart kid, he will catch on.

Of course another way I have started involving them is to talk about money openly with them. Explaining that we just can't afford ___ or that ___ would be a lot cheaper and a lot more fun. The biggest place we have seen that is the difference between going to an ice cream parlor or grabbing a gallon and heading home. Or if we get to the end of the month and have some left over after saving some, I involve them in making the decision of how we should treat ourselves.

Its been a learning experience for us all but I think it has been a lesson we have all needed. I have always been rather notoriously cheap but having a budget to stick to is helping me to realize where the money needs to be and how to best make the most of every single dollar. Who can argue the value of learning that lesson?

What are some of the challenges you face in your budget? Have you got one that you stick to? How do you talk to your kids about money?

*This post was sponsored by Genworth Financial but the opinons and story are all mine.

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