Frugal Family: Getting Ready for Spring

Using a Family Scheduling Chart

Do you keep a collective family expense chart? Does it coordinate activities like trips to the doctor, fees for little league, groceries, utilities, and occasional expenses, all in one place? Here are a few tips to get started!

Keep it Visible

If you’re going to be successful, keep this chart someplace busy in your home — someplace it won’t get overlooked or washed away in a sea of clutter. This chart should be displayed prominently so that you can’t forget about it — think about putting it on the front of the fridge or attach it to the inside of your front door. If you’re really trying to remember, stick it to your bathroom mirror!

Start Simple

You don’t need a fancy app or complicated spreadsheet to get organized. You can make do with pen and paper. There are a few things you should group together: autopay drafts for bills and standard expenses like utilities, food and gas.

Knowing when you need to buy things makes your month predictable.

This way, you’ll be better able to avoid spending money when you’re about to have a big bill hit your account.

If you’re living on a limited income, knowing how to create your budget and plan around it becomes all the more important.

Think Ahead

There are certain types of expenses that come around once a quarter or once a year that you may forget to put on your calendar or in your budget. Copays for dentist or doctor’s visits, taxes, holiday and birthday presents, trips to the pharmacy, making bulk purchases at Costco, oil changes for your vehicle — make sure that you anticipate, budget and plan for these.

Bring Your Kids to the Table

Creating a family scheduling chart is also a way to teach your kids about cash flow and planning. Have them track their “income.” Whether it’s money earned from chores or an allowance, show them how to track it and chart it. This way, they’ll get a better feel for managing their own finances, even if they’re small!

Break it into Segments

You don’t have to keep a year-long master calendar on your kitchen fridge. You can break it into weekly or monthly segments that are easy to read. These are more kid friendly as well.


March Scheduling Chart for Single Mom

Week 1

28 Feb – Ms. Jones Income, $1000

1 March – Mortgage, $750
1 March – Health insurance, $150 premium
1 March – Weekly grocery trip, $100
1 March – Lunch & snack money for Johnny, $15
1 March – February chore payment to Johnny Jones, $25

Week 2

8 March – Mobile phones, family plan $100
8 March – Electricity bill, $100
8 March- Weekly grocery trip, $100
8 March – Cable & Internet bill, $100

Week 3

15 March – Car Payment, $200
15 March – Credit Card Payment, $300
15 March — Weekly grocery trip, $100
15 March – Soccer dues, $50
15 March – Ms. Jones Income, $1000

Obviously, you can imagine adding plenty more detail to the list — you can make it as specific as you need it to be. The point is to understand your cash flow so you can make better decisions with your money.

If the idea of planning your monthly income and expenses for the family is overwhelming because of outstanding debts, you’re not alone.

If you’ve been adding this up, you may have noticed Ms. Jones has $90 more going out each month than she has coming in. This could be a clue as to why she’s making a $300 credit card payment.

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