Budgeting ideas for young couples
Some young couples seem to have the knack of making ends meet. Others in about the same financial circumstances are often pinched for money and are carrying heavy debt loads. Management of resources may make the difference.
While the budget process is an aid to planning the family's use of funds, it doesn't mean that what each penny goes for will be rigidly recorded. It does mean that the couple will:
* Make money management a joint venture from the beginning of the marriage.
* Face money matters frankly and get financial problems down on paper.
* Consider each other's wishes.
* Stick to budgeting until the plan agreed upon works.
* Adjust the plan as circumstances change.
A practical spending plan is a must. Since a young couple committed to planning is joining in a money partnership, setting some goals together is called for. One goal for the first year, or any year, would logically be ''to live comfortably.'' Other goals might be set by the month, the year, or for a period such as five years.
To support the goals, an estimate of the total money income is needed. While a year-long plan is often made, a trial plan for a shorter period of time may be advisable, especially if income flow is expected to be irregular.
Keeping an actual record in each of the budget categories of what is spent by both husband and wife for a month or two will provide a fairly accurate temporary guideline for estimating future spending.
Based on the information gathered about goals, income, and expenses, an initial spending plan can be set up. It will include fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, and payments on debts. Also taken into account will be flexible expenses such as food, clothing, furnishings, recreation, education, gifts, and transportation.
When estimated income is compared with estimated expenses, the process becomes a bit more difficult. If the budget is out of balance, perhaps an attempt may be made to whittle down the flexible expenses by:
* Eliminating some items.
* Spending less for other items.
* Using personal talents to make goods that would otherwise be bought or services that would otherwise dig into the income.
* Take advantage of free services in education, recreation, and entertainment.
Even fixed expenses can be scanned over time to determine if reductions in quantity, quality, or cost can be made.
An aid to the process is a free publication, ''A Guide to Budgeting for the Young Couple,'' which will be sent on request by the Extension Publications Center, 12 B Forest Park, University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. 03824.