If your family life is anything like ours…. it’s hectic!
The weekdays fly by and there’s something on every weekend for at least the next month.
It seems there’s not enough hours in the day or days in the week.
However, because the hours in each day and days in each week are limited, there is only so much we can do. We must prioritise how we spend our time.
A certain number of hours will be allocated to work, to sleep, to eating and cleaning. On weekends, we may choose to spend time with family and decide on which friends visit.
By doing all of this we are prioritising how we spend our time; consciously, sub-consciously, or simply routinely.
We must prioritise our time, because we can’t create new time out of thin air. We can’t borrow time from our future. And, even if we could, we’d probably just fill that time with more of the same stuff that we already do. Or, more likely, become complacent with the time we have.
With so many options to occupy our time and, given that particular activities consume large portions of it (i.e. working and sleeping), it takes a conscious effort to prioritise what we do with our time to avoid grinding away on the monotonous treadmill of life.
So, what’s that got to do with money?
If your household expenses are anything like ours…. life is expensive!
The bills gather throughout the week and there’s something on every weekend that’s going to cost money.
It seems there’s not enough income coming in or money in the bank.
However, because the income we earn each week is limited, there is only so much we can do. We must prioritise how we spend our money.
By doing all of this we are prioritising how we spend our money, consciously, sub-consciously, or simply routinely.
We must prioritise our money, because money doesn’t grow on trees and we’re already borrowing more than we need. And, even if we increased our borrowings, we’d probably just spend that money on more of the same stuff that we already do. Or, more likely, become complacent with the money we have.
With so many ways to spend our money and particular items consuming large portions of it (i.e. housing, cars and food), it takes a conscious effort to prioritise what we do with our money to avoid grinding away on the monotonous treadmill of life.
Every single week you manage to get what you need done without borrowing time from the future. So why do so many people struggle to only spend what they earn each week without borrowing money?
It sounds stressful.
Is it really that difficult to only spend what we earn?
Do you want to stop treading water and living week-to-week?
Wouldn’t it be nice to spend less than you earn and save a little each week?
How To Cut Household Expenses
This leads us onto household expenditure and how we should be prioritising each item of our expenses.
Most people wrongly assume that the only way to run a proper household budget and drastically reduce expenses is to look for bargains, keep tabs on every dollar spent and be a straight-up tight-wad.
Well, those people are wrong.
Running a solid household budget is all about prioritising the expenses you have and the expenses you want and then shift your mindset to make it all work.
And, just like the way we always manage to allocate and prioritise the time we have during the week, we also need to allocate and prioritise the way we spend our money.
The best way to reduce expenses to begin saving money, or even cut expenses to the bone, is to make a list of your everyday expenses.
Specifically, your everyday expenses list should consist of an itemised list of your household expenses, including the monthly (ballpark) budget for each item and, most importantly, where it sits on your priority list.
Let me be clear, prioritising the list of expenses on your household budget is the single most important way to reduce your expenses, control your expenditure and begin to save money effectively. In fact, prioritising each item of expense is more important than sticking to the budget you have allocated to that item.
Here, I’ll give you an example of how prioritising your expenses is done and why it is so effective in managing your household budget and savings plan.
This is a list of my family’s household expenses and how we prioritise our expenditure.
|7||Car Running Costs||$420|
|14||General Household Items||$100|
|15||Kid's Swimming Lessons||$75|
Cutting Household Expenses
The importance of the table above is not to detail how we spend our money or what we spend it on (don’t judge us!), but rather to give you an idea of why prioritising your household expenses is the best way to cut costs and save money.
The benefit of prioritising household expenses like this is to provide you with your guiding light to create the perfect balance between your current day expenditure and your future expenditure (savings towards goals).
For example, by using this prioritisation method, I can say with confidence that we should cancel our roadside assistance if we wanted to save $50 per month, because this is one of our lowest priorities. Or maybe we could cancel Netflix, or clean the pool ourselves, which might save us $70 per month after accounting for chemicals, I can do swimming lessons with the kids at home every second week, etc. There are plenty of ways to reduce expenses if we are willing to crack the whip on ourselves.
See how I don’t even need to think twice? I can look at the list above and straight away determine our lowest priority and figure out how much we can save by reducing the cost of the item or cutting it out all together.
On the flip-side, based on the list above, our groceries and housing costs are non-negotiables. These are our highest priorities. Sure we can reduce these costs by refinancing our home loan or buying cheaper food brands, but to make a real difference in your family finances (and your mindset), you need to begin slashing. There are too many items on your expenditure list that you don’t truly value.
You can’t have it all. If you want to start saving money or begin saving more money, your everyday expenses need to be reduced or eliminated.
By reducing your everyday expenses, you have a higher savings capacity for future expenses and goals (and much less stress).
The same principle applies whether you earn $1,000 per week or $4,000 per week.
Credit cards and borrowings are not the answer – it’s a fools way out. By using credit or borrowing money, you are delaying and compounding your expenditure problems and lack of savings capacity.
How To Reduce Expenses and Save Money
The one thing that impacts our ability to reduce expenses and save money is the access we have to credit .
Not only do most of us borrow to purchase a home, but we also borrow money for investments, to purchase rental properties and to expand our businesses. While borrowing for these things does have inherent risk, the really dangerous type of borrowing is when we use credit to cover our lifestyle expenses, such as a new car, holidays, clothes, etc. The latter type of borrowing is deadly because none of these things will appreciate in value and outweigh the cost of borrowing (i.e. you will not make any money by borrowing for lifestyle expenses). It is dead money.
So, if you’re honest with yourself about taking the first step towards reducing your household expenses and arguably the best way; stop borrowing money to fund your lifestyle expenses. Cut up your credit card, pay off that personal loan and don’t look back.
Your next step is to prioritise your household expenses as we have done in this article, so that you can clearly see where your priorities lay and then cut away any low hanging fruit, so that you have more savings for the things that really matter.
Take a leaf out of your own book and the way you manage and prioritise your time each week. You are limited to 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, and you make it work, don’t you?
Now it’s time to manage and prioritise your money the same way.
Author: Chris Strano
After playing a vital role in the creation of his two sons, Chris Strano gave up his former-life as a financial adviser to dedicate his time to providing everyday families with basic money management advice. Drawing on his years of education and experience, he has also developed an affordable 100% digital course showing young families how to build their own custom household budget and savings plan to work towards their goals, using financial planning strategies (without the cost of a financial adviser). You too can get started by grabbing his free 6-Step Budget Cheat Sheet at Build A Family Budget and follow him on Facebook and Instagram @SmartFamilyBudget.