Money tips

4 brilliant budgeting tips for families

3 min read

Money tips

4 brilliant budgeting tips for families

3 min read

Family costs often add up quickly. If you have kids, you’ll be looking at a minimum of $140 to $170 a week1 per child. And as your loved ones get older and remain at home, there might be a greater strain on your finances.

Now, we’re not saying that you’d be better off living alone, but whether you like it or not, your expenses often get a workout if you’ve got a big family. To help you manage some of the stress you might be feeling, we’ve gathered some tips on how families can budget without the need to cut back on all of life’s pleasures completely (although a little restraint can certainly be a good thing!).  

1. Create a family budget

Sounds boring right? Believe it or not, many people don’t bother to create one. It can often seem too overwhelming, tedious or unimportant. In the end, it’ll be worth it because you may be able to reduce costs and save money along the way.

According to ASIC2 an average Australian household spends $20 on bakery products, $44 on food at restaurants and $29 on personal care each week. So the first step in creating a family budget is to figure out where all your money is going. In other words, calculate your income and add up your expenses. Yes – it’ll mean rummaging through old bank statements, bills, and credit card statements. Talk about a diligent auditor! You’ll need to consider:

  • Income from full-time, part-time or casual work
  • Your pension, if you have one
  • Any government benefits you might receive
  • Child support payments, if applicable
  • Money from investments
  • Other sources of income.

Now here comes the fun part. A good rule of thumb is to allocate around 60% of your after-tax household income to all your basics, like food, shelter, and bills. The remaining 40% should be divided between everyday expenses and spending money on things you love doing. You can think of rough percentages for breaking down these categories further.

For example, say you want to spend 30 per cent of your income on housing costs and 10% on bills. Or perhaps you need to dedicate another 5-10% on transport for a monthly train ticket or petrol costs. This is just a rough guide, but you’ll need to run your own numbers to see what works for you.  

Need a bit of help? The Suncorp Bank Budget Planner can give you some great insights into how your income and expenses work together. It’s easy to use and can crunch the numbers for you.

2. Set both short and long-term financial goals

Whether you’re planning a house move, having more children or buying a car, it’s worth keeping your short and long-term ambitions and goals in mind. If you’re able to start budgeting for them now, you’ll be one step closer to achieving them sooner.

A short-term goal could be a day out on the weekend for the whole family. And an example of a longer term goal could be an overseas trip on the school holidays. Using a banking account like our Everyday Options Account is a helpful way to start budgeting for your family and keeping track of your finances.

Discover our everyday accounts 

3. Plan ahead for the school year

If school holidays are coming to an end, don’t panic. Whether you’re in for trips to the uniform shop, stationary purchases or have school activities piling up, finding the money to cover it all doesn’t have to be so stressful.

Approach your buying with care and set aside the cash you’ll need in advance. Before you go shopping for school uniforms, sort through their uniforms and work out what needs replacing or updating. Similarly, keep an eye out for shoe sales – you might be surprised by how much you can save!

If you’re concerned about upcoming school camps and excursions, it’s worth checking with the school to see what the costs will be, or ask how much it was last year to appropriately plan and budget for the year ahead.

4. Get the family together on budgeting

Sounds like a no-brainer, but it might not be as easy as you think. The key to budgeting – whether it’s to save for a holiday or pay for upcoming school fees – is to get the whole family involved. Got an upcoming vacation? Start a conversation not just about where you want to go, but what you’ll be doing when you get there. Think about the activities and what value they’ll bring to the whole family.

It’s fun to find creative ways to manage your spending, but it’s best to focus on the obvious things as a family. It could be as simple as changing your grocery habits, or planning a ‘staycation’ one year in order to save for a longer holiday the following year. If your weekly shopping bills keep going up and up, try drawing up an actual shopping list of what you’ll need and go with cheaper brands.

There are plenty of ways to save money as a family. From cutting down on your everyday expenses to getting the whole family involved in budgeting, you can save money in unexpected ways with clever budgeting tricks.


        2. Australian Institute of Family Strategies

Published 4 November 2022

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