Budgeting for the Big Stuff: Babies, Cars, and Homes

HousingWhen you meet that special someone, you think about spending the rest of your lives together in the perfect home with a couple of kids, a reliable car, and plenty of money in the bank.  Often, these dreams don’t come with the financial decisions that must be made in order to get there. When you’re single, it may be easy to go and buy what you want, or spend a fun night out with friends without thinking much about your budget. However, it becomes more and more important as you get older.  With that being said, here are some easy ways to make budgeting a priority:

Analyze Spending

The first step in getting those future investments that you want as a couple is to look at what you are currently spending each month. This first step is crucial because you will need to know how much you are bringing into the household each month and where it’s going. Make a list of all the bills that are paid each month as well so that you don’t forget anything.

Set Goals

In order to reach your ultimate goal of starting a family or finding a great house to buy, you will need to set some goals along the way. For example, if you are looking to buy a house in the future, you will want to consider the neighborhood where you want to live to determine what you will have to save. Then, you can set milestones like saving up for a down payment, for instance. Other goals may be more short term, such as planning a future trip together. Or, your savings may just be a collective buffer for the two of you for emergency spending, and, of course, any other undetermined future investments.

Reassess Spending

When you do have some future goals in mind, it is always important to reassess your current budget and think about where you might be able to cut costs. When you’re thinking about starting a family, the extra expenses can add up quickly, from simply purchasing all the necessities for a newborn, to taking time off work. And monthly expenses can add up quickly too, from home insurance and car insurance, to mortgages, and investing in your retirement and your children’s education. Start looking at the small expenses that inadvertently add up over the course of a month: the number of coffees you buy a week, or the number of meals you eat out. If you find a significant amount of savings from those small incidentals there’s no need to go further. If you’re looking to save more, start considering the larger expenses that can be unnecessarily burdening you. Could you find a cheaper place to live? Can you sell your car and rely on public transportation?

Create A Budget

Now you know what you are spending each month, where you can cut down, and what milestones you need to meet in order to reach your saving goals. Your family budget is simply a plan that puts these two pieces of information together so that you can reach your goals. To attain a specific goal, the amount you spend each month needs to be less than you take in. It is also a good idea in the short term to focus on paying any debts that have high interest rates, such as credit cards. When those debts are paid off, you will be able to reach your final goal faster. Saving as a couple doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Though it takes a little time and effort to get your finances in order, once you have a plan you will be able to get that much closer to reaching your dreams as a family.

How are you budgeting for the “big stuff?”

 
About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. This is a very good way to look at planning toward a financial goal. Looking at something as just one big mountain to climb can seem overwhelming, so it’s good when you break it into smaller chunks as you’ve done

  2. I love that a focus on spending gets two steps. It really is that important.

    Unfortunately we haven’t really started planning for some of the big things, like kids. The closest we’ve come is to talk about getting a 529 started in one of our names, and then to switch the beneficiary to baby DB40 someday. I really have no idea exactly what they’ll cost on a day to day basis yet as we’re still maybe 3 or 4 years out (hopefully). But maybe when we’re a year away and we have an idea of what our job situation is like, we’ll work a process similar to what you’ve outlined here.

  3. We are actually saving for our new home now. I know it will still take quite a lot of time before we will be able to do the purchasing but I know we are getting there. These tips surely help a lot.

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