Beginning a journey out of debt begins with exercising your budget muscle. Whether using pen and paper or a nifty online application, capturing an accurate picture of income vs expenses is the objective.
Think of the budget as the guide rails on the road to financial maturity. Each month (or pay period), project which expenses will be satisfied with available funds for the current period.
The budget helps you determine exactly how much income you have left to attack outstanding debt. In order to build a budget that works for your household:
- Hold regular Finance Committee meetings. Meetings may need an executive portion (for the adults) and then a general session including the junior stakeholders (the kiddos) to cover open, age-appropriate business.
- Anticipate expenses and income for the next pay period. Account for all known expenses and activities. Plan out the next steps of your debt snowball progress.
- Post the budget in plain view. Place it in a reasonably secure location that all family members have access to (I suggest the bedroom if you have a high traffic home). This will provide a visible reminder of your goal and family mission.
5 Ways to Get Everyone Involved
1. Be consistent. Hold regular Finance Committee meetings. Plan them for a day and time when all are available. Consider combining this with a regular family meal. Consistency shows commitment.
2. Seek buy in. Try to incorporate some aspect of your family member’s suggestions. Try it – even if a strategy fails, there is a lesson to be learned and members of the family feel valued.
3. Prioritize non-essentials. Table lower priority items for future Finance Committee meetings.
4. Chart progress as a group. People have a variety of great ideas to record their debt dump. One family maintains a debt payoff chart and the children take turns coloring in each milestone. I would review past budget worksheets to glean encouragement along my journey. Brittany does a great job of blogging and reporting her monthly updates. The charts are impressive! You may want to keep a group journal. Recording your progress can be a great source of motivation if you ever find yourself fending off frugal fatigue.
5. Celebrate the small victories. Identify budget friendly ways to celebrate each milestone. Whether you splurge on ice cream or take in a matinee or make a special meal. We cranked up the music and had our own little dance fest. Identify a great celebration once you reach the ultimate goal and post a visual representation of that in the home to keep everyone motivated.
The goals is to keep help everyone take ownership of the debt dump project so you all can keep each other motivated and win as a family! How do you involve the entire family in your debt dump project?
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