Our New Family Budget 💵 {we let the KIDS plan it!}

Our 2017 Budget ~ Our Cozy Den

The past month has been a BIG month for our family!

My husband graduated from seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity.

SO proud!

This new phase of life brings some changes in our family budget (and schedule), as his finishing school means we no longer get a housing allowance from the military. (Read more about that in the benefits page here.)

In order for the kids to understand why our lifestyle would be changing a little (fewer upgrades in the grocery store, fewer movies out and restaurants) — I wanted them to have a say in how we allocate our budget.

I started by having the kids make fifty $50-bills out of construction paper. This would represent our monthly pay. (We get $1900 from my husband’s position as the Associate Pastor of a local church, and $600 from his Army Reserve one-weekend-a-month.)

Then I put the huge pile of money on the table and said “Look how much money we get EVERY MONTH! It’s TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!” The children rejoiced.

Then I continued, “Help me decide what we should do with it!”

I made a chart of all of our expenses, with the dollar amounts blank. Then we went through them one by one, with the kids placing money in each category.

Our 2017 Budget ~ Our Cozy Den
I didn’t take photos of the actual meeting, so this is a reenactment!

They were all anxiously watching the pile dwindle. When we got to the last few categories that were more subjective in amounts, we had some debates on where to allocate the money. They decided that they would rather have more money for extra-curriculars and less money for special upgrades at the grocery store (like individually packaged fruit cups, juice boxes, cookies, etc). Connor also decided to take $50 out of Fun Money to put in Savings. (We do most of our retirement savings out of our tax return and/or other unexpected windfalls.)

After we decided on our final numbers, I wrote the totals in the boxes and then gave the kids the money to play with. I could tell it was a great learning experience for them, especially as many of our bills are higher than they expected. (Let’s be honest, they are higher than *I* expected too– utilities in this town are twice what they were in our last home.) 

Here’s the new budget that the kids came up with:

  • Tithe- $250
  • Mortgage- $600
  • Electricity- $150
  • Water/sewer- $150
  • Natural Gas (heat)- $300 {at most, much less in summer}
  • Insurance- $100
  • Vehicle Fuel- $100
  • Cell Phones (3 lines)- $100
  • Internet- $50
  • Other household expenses (Amazon Prime, StudyGateway, Trash pickup)- $50
  • Savings- $50
  • Groceries- $300
  • Pocket cash for Byron- $50
  • Fun money- $50
  • Extra-curriculars- $50
  • Kids (allowances & date nights)- $50
  • Miscellaneous (anything else we need, to include clothing, office supplies, postage, etc — basically anything non-grocery)- $100

Total — $2500

We were eating out a lot more often over the past six months, so I thought this would be a huge blow to them. But I can already hear them excitedly discussing when & where we’ll have our special family night out this month. I asked the boys if they wanted to play soccer, and the first question was, “How much does it cost?” Lia asked, “Can I cut piano lessons back to every other week? I don’t need to go every week to keep learning.”  I love that they are learning the lesson that everything is not free and choices have consequences!!

Tell me, have you ever had your kids help make the family’s budget? How did you do it? Click here to join the Facebook discussion and tell me about YOUR family’s traditions!

Our 2017 Budget ~ Our Cozy Den

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