How To Host a Successful Family Budget Meeting

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The needs, wants, and goals of your family are always changing, and your budget should be a tool to accommodate them all. Without frequent evaluation, though, that budget you’ve worked so hard to create will be nothing but a stressful discussion in your home. A good way to prevent the complaining and frustration is to hold a family budget meeting so that each family member gets to hear the successes (and failures) of the month before and discuss their desires or concerns for the months ahead.

This is an important step in maintaining a family budget, due to the fact that, in most families, one person runs the budget. While spouses and children might be aware of the goals the budget is meant to achieve, they lose excitement for it if they cannot see the process actually play out. The solution: a family budget meeting to allow for discussion, a celebration of successes, time to create additional goals, and incentives to keep everyone on the same track, happily looking forward to achieving those goals.

Tip: Creating and maintaining your family budget shouldn’t be hard. Grab my FREE Family Budgeting Workbook to help you get (and stay) on track! Find it HERE.

How to Host a Successful Family Budget Meeting

It’s not as hard as it sounds, I promise.

Step 1: Determine How Often

The frequency of your family meetings is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Personally, my family doesn’t need to have a meeting more than once a month. We create a monthly budget, complete with goals we want to meet in that timeframe, and the income only comes in once, so having a discussion about the money situation more frequently wouldn’t pose any additional benefit to us.

Having a bi-weekly meeting might be better if you are new to maintaining a budget and are worried about staying on track, or perhaps you get paid irregularly and need to address how that money, or lack thereof, is being handled. Whatever timeframe you choose, keep it consistent. If you pick once a month, make sure that the meeting is prioritized each month.

Step 2: Include the Whole Family

Obviously, including your spouse is critical to having a family budget meeting. If he or she isn’t involved in creating the budget, they won’t be excited about keeping it and will feel like you are policing their every financial move.

Many families also include the kids in their budget meetings. Personally, I believe this to be a great way to not only teach your children about financial responsibility, but also to get input on family goals related to vacations, house purchases, clothing needs, and food menus.

They might not need to be privy to how much you spend on your mortgage or debt repayment each month, so you can feel free to keep those topics between you and your spouse, but allowing the kids to have some say will make it a whole lot easier when you have to say no to McDonald’s for the third time this month.

You’ll be able to remind them of the goals you set as a family and why that no is so important, and they will recognize, hopefully, that sacrifice is often necessary to achieve the larger goals of life.

Step 3: Pick a Convenient Time

Plan a time when you aren’t tired and make that plan well in advance. This is not the meeting to have right when your spouse is getting ready for bed or your kids are excited about heading off to the ice cream shop. Make the plan ahead of time and prepare for no distractions. You may even want to bribe your family with popcorn or another treat to get them to participate with excitement.

Do what you have to do to make this boring and stressful topic a fun one for the entire family.

Step 4: Discuss the Whole Budget

This isn’t the time to skim over the details of the budget, make sure you’ve planned to address each aspect of the budget in all its glory and failure.

Evaluate Your Goals

Start by discussing the goals you currently have as a family. Begin with the short-term goals, giving a status update for any that may have been met since the previous family meeting. Have a couple of minutes of celebration if that’s the case!

Move toward long-term goals, updating the entire family on the progress made to date. If any goal hasn’t been met during the appropriate timeframe, reevaluate that goal, determining why it hasn’t been met, and either discard it and move on to others, or create a step-by-step plan to achieve it in the near future.

Before you complete this step, make sure to ask each family member if there are any goals that should be added to the list. Remember, if you do add a goal you also need to include the steps you will take to make it happen. Goals don’t happen just by wishing them so.

Additional Goal-Related Resources:

Making Goals (and reaching them…)

Four Opportunities to Consider When You Have No Money

Assess the Failures

Now that you have the goals out of the way it’s time to discuss the budget failures of the previous month. This could include areas of the budget in which you overspent, unnecessary credit card expenses, or savings accounts that were used for items they weren’t intended for. Perhaps you didn’t budget enough for clothing, and everyone needed new shoes, or maybe you took an unplanned vacation and had to take that money from somewhere else. Whatever the failure was, make note of it so that you can avoid it in the future.

Speaking of avoiding failure in the future, how will you learn from the failures of last month and prepare for the expenses of the upcoming month? Perhaps your car budget needs a little additional money each month or the eating out budget should be larger? Maybe you can cut the television subscription to make those things happen for your family. Whatever it is you need to adjust, find a way to do so without ruining the likelihood of achieving your goals.

If you notice a trend playing out in the failures associated with your budget, and there is no room to include that expense monthly, then I suggest finding an alternative. Perhaps everyone gets to go out for a meal at the end of the month at the favorite family restaurant if the budget remains intact, or maybe everyone gets the opportunity to participate in an activity that is normally for special occasions only. Whatever it takes, get the whole family on board with sticking to the budget plan using whatever incentives you have at your disposal.

Additional Budgeting Resources for Failure Prevention:

Grocery Budget Survival: Strategies for Success

How to Keep Unexpected Income from Destroying Your Budget

Budgets and Chores: We Can Do It, You Can Help!

Contemplate the Season

Every family budget meeting should conclude with a discussion of the upcoming seasonal or monthly expenses and the needs of each individual family members (pets included). Our discussion typically includes things such as new shoes, outgrown clothing, school field trips, extra travel for work, veterinarian visits, and necessary haircuts. Write down birthday parties, anniversaries, Christmas, weekend trips, family visits, home projects, and anything else extra that will take place in the upcoming month and incorporate those expenses into the monthly budget. If you plan ahead, then when the expense takes place, it won’t destroy your other goals for the month.

Additional Resources:

School Year Budget Survival Tactics

Three Questions to Ask Before Starting a DIY Project

Your turn

See? I told you it would be easy. Trust me, once you have that first budget meeting under your belt and your family on board, your job as the budget master will seem so much easier.

Try it out this month and come back to tell me how it went. I’d love to connect with you!

Tip: Creating and maintaining your family budget shouldn’t be hard. Grab my FREE Family Budgeting Workbook to help you get (and stay) on track! Find it HERE.