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Planning your monthly budget tends to be a chore that no one wants to be a part of. When you mention a budget meeting, you hear a collective groan from your family. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Making your budget meetings fun and rewarding is the best way to get your family on board with taking part. Here are 5 steps to conducting a budget meeting your family actually enjoys!
How often should you have a budget meeting?
You basically have two main options for how often to have your budget meeting. You can choose to meet weekly (or biweekly) or you can choose to meet monthly. Many people find it easiest to budget by the month and therefore would host a budget meeting monthly. But if your income is a little more irregular or you want to make a plan each time you get paid (many people get paid weekly or biweekly), then it may be beneficial to meet more often.
The point is to choose a routine that makes sense for your family and gives you the best chance of successfully creating and sticking to your budget. When you first start using a budget, getting together every time you get paid may help you stay on track and start to form better habits. But once you’ve been budgeting awhile (particularly if you’ve stopped living paycheck to paycheck), only meeting once a month might work out great for you!
What should you be doing in your budget meeting?
The first time you have a budget meeting will be different from every other time. Initially, you’ll want to set aside a longer period of time. During this first family budget meeting you will discuss the following things:
- What the household income is
- What your current debt situation is
- How much you currently have available in all of your accounts
- What your financial goals are (debt payoff, savings, something else)
- How much you need for your current expenses (how much do you need for the 4 essentials?)
- How much (if any) you have left to be used for non-necessities and things that don’t help you accomplish your goals (basically, this would be your “spending” money) and how it will be spent
- Make sure to include your children (they should, at the very least, be allowed to have a say in how you spend the “spending” money. You and your partner always hold veto power, but it is beneficial to include your children in some spending decisions in order for them to begin learning and understanding how money works).
After your initial budget set-up meeting, your regular meetings will be significantly shorter. Here’s what you need to include in each budget meeting:
- Did you stick to your goals & budget since the last meeting?
- If not, what can you do this time to make it easier? (Do you need to adjust how much you budget? Are there safeguards or accountability you could put in place to help you stay on track?)
- Is there anything you need to add to the budget (if you’re not sure, look at what you bought using money from your “forgot to budget” category).
- Is there anything coming up that you need to be sure to include in the budget?
- Are there any other important things regarding your budget or income that need to be addressed?
How to get your family on board with a budget meeting
Now that you know what to do and when to do it, you need to convince your family that it’s worth their time! This can be tricky, especially if you’re partner isn’t exactly on board. But here are 5 ways to sweeten the deal for them so they are more likely to at least give it a shot!
Don’t call it a budget meeting!
Whatever you do, do not use the term budget meeting!!! This will more than likely get an immediate emphatic “NO!” from everyone in your family. Instead, get creative and give your meeting a name that will leave your family curious and excited to attend!
(Here are a few fun ideas to get you started! Allocation Assembly, The Share(holder) Council, Forecast Forum, Fiscal Forum, Spending Plan Showdown)
Start with something fun
Invite your family to play a game together or watch a movie or get out of the house for an adventure. Just make it clear that it does include the budget meeting so that they don’t feel duped when you bring it up. Having fun together first will hopefully get everyone in a good mood before you start discussing money (which can be a tough topic to talk about).
Include your kids
I grew up in a family where money was never discussed with the kids. I was told it was none of my business and to let the adults handle it. But this was a huge disservice to me because it left me basically clueless about finances when I moved out on my own. How much of your financial situation you divulge to your children is completely up to you. But it is imperative that you give them an opportunity to be included in at least some of the decision making so that they can begin to understand how it all works and form a foundation of sound financial management.
Give everyone a say
Along with including your kids, it is important that everyone in the budget meeting gets to have a say in how you budget your money. The adults in the house always hold veto power, but the kids should get an opportunity to share what’s important to them. In addition to that, it is equally important that both partners in a relationship have some input on the budget. Usually, there is one partner who is better at budgeting and one partner that tends to be more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person. But both of you need to contribute. The budgeter needs to loosen the reigns a little and give up some control while the go-with-the-flow person needs to make at least one change to the budget. It’s important that you all have a say so that everyone feels equally responsible for making it work.
End with something tasty
As a reward for everyone’s hard work, plan to have a special treat at the end of the meeting. Make ice cream sundaes or bake some cookies or whatever your family’s favorite treat is. Just make sure to make this a regular part of your budget meetings!
Implement these 5 basic steps in your weekly or monthly budget meeting and your family will start looking forward to it! Start by giving it a creative name, do something fun together, include the kids, let everyone have a say in the budget, and end with something tasty. Budgeting together as a family will help everyone be on the same page and you’ll be teaching your kids valuable skills they will carry with them for the rest of their lives! Now, go get to planning your next budget meeting!