10 Ways to Improve Your Family Finances in 2023

family finances in 2023

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Credit Sesame’s list of ways to improve your family finances in 2023 and make it fun and attainable.

The rise in inflation and the consumer price index in 2022 makes it necessary for most families to pay extra attention to their budgets in 2023. That doesn’t have to make it a miserable year. There’s no need for cost-cutting to raise tensions within a family. Budgeting works best when you have the buy-in of everyone involved. If you can find ways to motivate people individually and as a group, you can make it enjoyable. Here are nine suggestions for making budgeting in 2023 fun.

1. Explain what’s in it for everyone

Being the budget police is never a popular role. In a family, it can feel too much like being the bad cop. You are the person who has to say “no” all the time.

Start the year by bringing your family together and explaining what you are trying to do. Make it clear what and why you need to budget. In the long run, everyone benefits by helping the family reduce debt and build wealth. Explain to each family member understand what’s in it for them individually.

Tightening up the budget doesn’t have to be about just saying “no” all the time. Make it clear you’re actually saying “yes” to different things.

2. Create a realistic budget

Estimate your income and expenditure for the entire year. Get the entire family involved in thinking about what is essential, what’s nice to have and what can be deleted from the budget. If everyone is in it from the start, there’s more chance of everyone sticking with it for the year.

Make sure the budget is not only about cutting costs. Factor in some treats and things to look forward to.

If everyone in the family understands that the ultimate goal is not just lower pending, but financial improvement generally, there is more chance of success.

3. Set incremental achievable goals for savings

When you work out your budget for the year, you may have less to save than you would like. Let’s say the outcome of your planning is that you have to spend $5,000 less this year on regular expenses if you want to achieve your savings goal. Even as an adult, it’s hard to get your mind around how to squeeze that much savings out of your everyday budget. To your kids, that large figure is even harder to imagine.

$5,000 a year is about $417 a month, $96 a week or $13 a day. It seems more achievable if the whole family is tasked with saving $13 a day rather than $5,000 per year. A Starbucks here, a takeout there, a walk instead of driving somewhere for a day out. These are small concrete ways of saving dollars every day. Save enough and that can add up to big bucks.

4. Have your kids create family finances in 2023 tracker art

Keep your kids on board by involving them in tracking the family’s progress toward budget goals and financial improvement.

This can be as simple as having them make a wall chart with a way to mark successes and milestones. This could be a picture of a thermometer that fills up every day that you save $13. Or a line graph that shows savings building over time. Older kids might prefer to create digital art that does the same thing. There’s no need to include the actual dollar amounts if you don’t fancy friends seeing your budget planning.

Tapping into the creativity of your kids and keeping them involved in tracking progress makes them feel they have a role in the family budget. Hopefully, they may even start saying “no” to themselves when they see an unnecessary expense.

5. Show progress towards fun goals

Besides tracking overall budget progress, be sure to highlight specific goals that family members are most likely to appreciate.

This might be things like saving up for a family vacation or someone’s birthday party. Show that one reason for budgeting is so you can afford some of the things the family really wants.

Highlighting progress towards specific, desirable goals helps make budgeting less abstract and more motivational.

6. Set up a family finances in 2023 suggestion box

Take a page from corporate management handbooks and get buy-in from your family by soliciting suggestions for new ways to save money.

From an early age, kids are more involved in decisions about spending money than you may think. They ask for things and make choices about what they want.

This means they may see day-to-day opportunities to spend less that you might overlook. Plus, having the idea come from the person who is affected makes it seem more empowering instead of restricting.

Be sure to recognize and acknowledge good ideas in front of the whole family. That can motivate family members to come up with suggestions.

7. Compile a low-cost activities wish list

Fun doesn’t always have to cost money. Each family member may have things they wish the family would spend more time doing.

This might be anything from playing family games to having friends over more often. Even allowing occasional extra screen time for teens can be used as an activity that seems like a bonus. Finding opportunities to allow for these things can both be used as a reward and take the place of some other forms of recreation that cost money.

8. Create an individual family member budget competition

To the extent possible, show each family member how they make choices about what to buy and how much the family spends on them.

Give each family member a budget for those things, and then make it a competition to see who can save the biggest percentage of their budget.

This can make young people more aware of looking for sales and discounts, choosing more cost-effective alternatives or simply delaying gratification for a while.

Tracking savings for each individual family member can get the competitive juices flowing and motivate everyone to keep an eye out for savings opportunities.

9. Give low-cost monthly rewards

It’s tough to keep people motivated over the course of a full year. So just as it helps to break savings targets into smaller pieces, it also helps to celebrate successes over shorter periods.

Rewards don’t have to cost a lot – if anything. It may be as simple as letting the winner choose (within reason) what to have for dinner, or get a break from one of their normal chores.

The real key to motivation often is simply recognizing people rather than giving any actual prize.

10. Play a home version of Top Chef instead of eating out

One of the most expensive things families do regularly is dine out. Whether going to a restaurant or having a pizza delivered, it’s more expensive than cooking at home.

To break up the routine of normal meals without spending extra money, have family members take turns preparing a meal or course of their own creation. Even little kids can show their culinary skills with simple tasks like decorating cookies.

As long as it’s done good-naturedly, having the meal evaluated by a judges’ panel of family members can make it more of an occasion than a chore. You can even keep track of how everyone does and choose your own family’s top chef each month.

Different things work for different families. The key is to involve everybody, keep track of progress and celebrate successes. Find ways to do that regularly, and those individual successes can add up to significant savings over the course of a year.

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Richard Barrington
Financial analyst for Credit Sesame, Richard Barrington earned his Chartered Financial Analyst designation and worked for over thirty years in the financial industry. He graduated from St. John Fisher College and joined Manning & Napier Advisors. He worked his way up to become head of marketing and client service, an owner of the firm and a member of its governing executive committee. He left the investment business in 2006 to become a financial analyst and commentator with a focus on the impact of the economy on personal finances. In that role he has appeared on Fox Business News and NPR, and has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and many other publications.

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