|Tammy Harrison is the mother of four, and the Independent Creative
Representative of Home-Based Working Moms. She can be reached via email at
You are a two-income family, sharing
and spreading the wealth amongst yourselves. All of a sudden, baby
one comes along, and you find your heart pulled in a different
direction than you ever imagined. Your emotions run high, and you
make a decision that will change your life and the life of your
family forever -- you quit your job and your checkbook has a heart
I have heard from so many people that
they just aren't capable of living within a budget. Why is that?
Most likely, it is because you never had to worry about budgeting or
because you were never taught how to create and stick to a budget!
I like to recommend baby steps when
assisting people with their budget plans. You don't just go from
college graduate to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in a day, and
the same can be said for going from a two-income family to a
The reality in budgeting effectively
runs much deeper than just figuring out how to live with less, as
money matters enter into your personal relationships as well. If you
are stressed out about money, you will not be happy staying at home.
So, start small. For instance,
instead of looking at how much money you do not have to spend each
paycheck, look at how much you need. We all have the same expenses
that are vital to living, such as mortgage or rent, food, utilities,
savings, etc. Those bills should be paid first. Then you have the
disposable income, or what's left from your pay to spend on needs or
wants beyond the necessities.
Say you are planning to buy summer
clothes for your children. Starting small with your budget means not
over-spending when you go shopping. To do that, you must know what
you are looking for before you go to the mall. First, decide what
the kids need. I have four kids, so I would need a minimum of three
outfits each for the kids. Let's say I have $100 to spend on all of
their summer clothes. That would mean I can only spend about $8.00
apiece on their outfits. Is this realistic? Can I buy all that I
plan to buy on that amount? If you cannot, then you need to find
alternative ways to outfit your kids, such as shopping at thrift
stores, visiting garage sales or learning to sew. I believe, that
with some savvy shopping and planning, I would not have any trouble
getting the kids some nice clothes within my means.
While making my list, I would go
through their clothes drawers, seeing what they have that still fits
and could be paired with a new pair of shorts or a new shirt. I
would take all of their jeans that have holes in the knees and cut
them off for shorts. I would look at their sweatshirts that may not
be viable for another winter and cut the sleeves off, even turning a
warm shirt into a midriff shirt! Now, my list is pared down to
define exactly what they need!
Start your budget small. Know what
you need when you go to the store, and do not let your emotions over
something very adorable sway. Once you learn how to manage your
money on such a small purchase, you will then be able to use your
new-found skill on bigger items!