Are you the spender in your family? If it isn’t you, I bet someone came to mind. For families and large households, staying on a budget takes more than one committed individual. Either the entire group understands and pitches in, or the endeavor as the whole hangs by a thread.
Children, especially, have skewed concepts of how money works because their parents keep money issues to themselves. Either they see it as something to spend, or they become too afraid to even ask for things or activities. Experts say it is not essential to be financiers, but it is necessary to discuss finances with them.
Rather than dodging the question or creating ongoing household struggles, follow these steps to cultivate a team mindset to tackle your budget.
Once you have the details for household income and essentials, call a group meeting.
- Review the proposed financial goals.
- Provide age-appropriate details of current finances. Be sure to note areas where you see or have discovered problems. But avoid making accusations or airing grievances.
- Brainstorm solutions for reaching your household’s goals and addressing problem areas. Write down every suggestion, no matter how absurd.
- Review and discuss the proposals to come to a practical strategy.
LEAVE ROOM FOR CHOICES.
There are few things worse than feeling forced into something. A lack of choice, freedom, and fun is one of the main reasons many Americans have difficulty sticking to a budget. Make sure you and your household leave a little room for flexibility, such as providing a monthly allowance or including a family fun night fund.
GET IT IN WRITING.
Cialdini’s Principle of Consistency states, “Once people make a decision, take a stand, or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously.”
So, armed with your new strategy, finalize the household budget and rules. Have everyone read and sign an “official” hard copy commitment to follow the new game plan. Then publicly post the agreement in a prominent position where everyone involved will see it regularly.
The public document does not need to contain sensitive information, such as actual budget numbers. Instead, it should focus on the rules of engagement and solutions to which the household members have agreed.
KEEP IT GOING.
Life changes. Budgets change, too. Similar to evolving laws to fit the times, your household should meet regularly to celebrate the past month’s wins, discuss where things went wrong, and brainstorm solutions. Be sure to recognize individuals for their achievements and contributions. You would be surprised how far verbal praise can go in developing enthusiasm, persistence, and better financial habits for everyone.
A household is a multi-celled organism, and it takes more than one individual to keep it on task. Following these steps can help your team work better together to achieve financial goals and, hopefully, a little more freedom.