Setting up a simple family budget

The Dreaded 'B' Word: Budget:

We all need to control our spending. But how do you control spending if you don't know what you're spending, on what and if you have the money to cover your commitments.

Personal money specialist Valerie Coleman Morris says rather than grasping at the ghost of your money's past - look into your money's future by using the "B" word.

Let's start by calling it a name! The "B" word is budget. Instead of budget let's call it a spending plan. Better, right? It's less daunting and doesn't play to our preconceived ideas about how impossible it is to do.

Money mindset: Keeping track of every dollar sounds tedious but doesn't have to be.

Reasons/motivation to do a budget:

  • No more expensive late fees.
  • Better credit scores.
  • Get better interest rates.
  • Less stress because you have a plan.
  • Fewer arguments with loved ones.
Set up a budget:
  • Review daily spending (start by writing down everything you spend for just one month to get a snapshot of your spending).

  • Analyze the results

  • Find your true discretionary money (subtract mandatory expenses from the monthly snapshot of your spending - what's left is discretionary money)

  • Identify your weak spots (see where you're spending too much)

  • What can be changed? (where you can cut back spending)

  • Compare monthly income with monthly spending

  • Think: Inflow (earnings) outflow (spending)

  • Mantra: "You can't spend more than you make."

  • Subtract any paycheck automatic deductions (i.e.: taxes/health insurance)

  • Add any other earnings (such as dividends, bonuses and interest)
Success! Now you can accurately evaluate if you're spending more than you make and make changes that will help you do what you really want to do with your money.


Online tools to assist in budgeting:

>> Bankrate's budgeting tool kit

The site additionally offers:
  • Calculators for loans, computing credit card payoff, CD interest and retirement savings.

  • Worksheets that help create a family spending plan, emergency fund, and monthly calendar work sheet, daily expense tracker work sheet, net worth worksheet.
About Valerie Coleman Morris:

Valerie Coleman (now Valerie Coleman Morris) was a Bay Area native when it comes to television news. She began her career in the early 70s in San Francisco at KRON-TV as a reporter and then KGO-TV as a long time anchor.

She was part of the Van Amburg/Jerry Jensen/Pete Giddings news team that branded "happy talk" as a new news genre.

Valerie's the former Business Anchor for CNN domestic and international - her dozen daily reporters were seen every day by more than 290 million households, businesses and airport networks.

She still appears on CNN as a personal finance guest expert but now focuses her works as a financial journalist/educator with a unique point of view about money. Her "mind over money matters" approach gives the thought process for a behavioral change: re-calculating your relationship with your personal money.

Valerie's mantra: "It's your money, so take it personally."

Valerie's blog site "Women and Money:" Posts domestically, internationally every Thursday --

Valerie's daily podcast "Valuable Money Tips" For professional women --

CBS Network Radio "With the Family in Mind - Money Matters:" Three times a week syndicated radio column

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