Is Your Family Living on a Budget or Practicing “Creative Finance?”

Is Your Family Living on a Budget or Practicing {3:06 minutes to read} Throughout my career, I have seen many of my clients flourish and others, unfortunately, not. Whether a business or family flourishes has to do with a great many factors. However, one of the things I’ve noticed is that an abundance of the people who ended up struggling did so because they had very little idea of what it cost them to live on a day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year basis.

It’s made me think that maybe I should talk more to my clients about the value of budgeting, so today we are going to focus on:

  • Personal budgeting

The most important thing I can say to you is that you cannot, I repeat, you cannot live on more than what you make. This is very important considering the number of people in the last few years that fell behind in mortgage payments and are far in debt to credit cards. I understand that an unexpected event (disability, sickness, losing a job, etc.) can cause a financial hardship even to the best of budgeters. But living within one’s means will make one better prepared for those life events we cannot control.

1. Curb Your Spending

Is it really worth it to keep up with the Joneses? Probably not.

  • Consider buying pre-owned cars rather than new cars.
  • Consider buying a 41” tv instead of 49” tv.
  • Cut coupons, use Groupon, and keep track of retailers’ rewards policies.

All these little things can add up to a lot of money over the years.

2.  When Possible, Downsize

Look through your house and see what you might be able to sell on eBay or in a yard sale. This might create a little extra income to help pay off some debt and de-clutter your house at the same time.

The Budget

There are many, many items that one must look at when deciding on a budget. The obvious ones are easy to remember:

  1. How much do I make?
  2. What am I spending on mortgage or rent?
  3. What am I spending on utilities?
  4. How much do I spend on:
  • Cable
  • Life insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Gifts
  • Transportation costs
  • Credit card payments

Often, however, we forget things like:

  • Dining out
  • Clothing
  • Spending money for children’s activities

The first and foremost duty in life is to enjoy it — be happy and have fun — but understand that falling deeply in debt and/or falling behind on house payments can make it very hard to do that. That’s why we try to live within our means. If we can increase the amount we take in, then we can live differently.

If you are interested in figuring out your family budget, click here to download a comprehensive Excel Family Monthly Budget Planner. If you don’t have Excel, you may click here to get The Family Monthly Budget Planner as a PDF file.

As always if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at or 914-682-7007.

Stephen J. Ganns

Stephen J. Ganns, CPA


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