2017 is almost here and it is time to reflect on the year. I always find myself making resolutions and finding ways to improve to make the new year better. This year making 2017 my best money year ever is at the top! 2017 can be your best money year too with these tips that will make saving money easy and involve the entire family.
7 Tips to Make a 2017 Financial Plan for Your Family
1. Look Back on 2016
Take a look at old bank statements and credit card bills. What mistakes did you make? Did you spend more on things that were not important to you? When I reflect on 2016 I think about impulse purchases. I would go to a store and come out with way more than I needed and spending way more than what I budgeted. This year I would like to be a smarter spender.
2. Prioritize Needs and Wants
To be a smarter spender I need to prioritize my families needs and wants. I may want something when I am out shopping but I need to keep my family budget as a priority. Doing this can be challenging in the moment. It is important to make a list when out shopping and stick to it. Take a 24 hour pause before making purchases that are not on your list. This can save your hundreds of dollars through out the year…and create less clutter in your house!
3. Future Savings: College/Retirement/Emergency Fund
College, retirement, and emeregency fund are not the most exciting things to think about saving for but they are essential to financial happiness. It is important to have a few months of basic living expenses saved. This may seem daunting but start small and watch it grow. Retirement may seem far away but having money set aside towards your retirement now can keep you financial safe later in life. Saving for your kids college can seem so stressful, especially if you are paying your own student loans. The best thing you can do is start to contribute to a 529 plan for your child. Every little bit helps.
For example, if you start saving just $50 every month while your child is in kindergarten, you’ll have $12,667 by the time your child goes to college (based on a 7% rate of return*). If you’re able to double that monthly investment to $100, you’ll have $25,333 when you child goes to college, a sum that will certainly help pay for a significant amount of college costs.
It is amazing how quick a little money a month can add up. MEFA has great tools and resources to start planning for your kids college.
4. Kids Stuff: School Activities and Extra Activities
As my kids have gotten older their expenses have grown. Our weekends are spent busy with their hobbies and interests. There are registrations, equipment, and other costs involved. These expenses can be surprising but if you have a plan they can have less of an impact on your family budget. Discuss with your kids what activities they may want to do or set a budget for outside activities.
5. House Stuff: Utilities, Mortgage, DIY, etc.
Make a list of all of your utilities and monthly payments. Remember to check annual and quarterly bills like garbage, car insurance, school taxes, etc. If you plan for these, when the bill is due you will have less to worry about and the money will be available. Figure out how much you spend yearly and divide it by 12. That is how much you should out aside each month to cover your house bills. Are you planning a big project at home? Look into options for how to finance it that fits into your budget.
6. Family Stuff: Vacations, Day Trips, Family Fun
Do you have vacation plans for 2017? Much like planning vacation days off from work you should start planning how you are going to pay for family vacations. The best decision we ever made was starting a vacation savings. Family vacations are a priority in our family and I didn’t want them to negatively affect our everyday finances. We set down and set aside money every paycheck to go into a vacation fund. This can be for day trips, big vacations, or weekend getaways. It can also be for something you want at home like a pool or trampoline. The goal is to value your money and start saving early. Then you will be prepared for the splurges!
7. Find Fun Ways to Save
The best part about saving for the 2017 is that you can do it as a family. Create a savings craft and let the kids get creative. Brainstorm ways to cut back and put them into place. I like to have a no spend week. After groceries are purchased we try to go a week without any extras. This excludes monthly bills. It is fun to get everyone involved and find free things to do as a family.
This year make a resolution that is easy and fun for your entire family. 2017 can be your best money year ever and you will be happy knowing that you are financially prepared for the new year.