All these talks and deal-making in Congress about the debt ceiling have made me rethink the way my family handles our budget at home. We don't have the luxury to take a vote and just raise our debt ceiling, unfortunately.
Can you imagine that phone call to the credit card company? “Don't worry, our family has voted to raise our debt ceiling. We have a 10-year plan to reduce debt.” I can already see the puzzled face of the representative at the other end of the line.
Since the above scenario will not work for any of us, it's time to face the music. Here’s how we did it:
1) We called a family meeting to discuss our budget. It was imperative for me to let my family members know our goals and why taking control of our spending will help to reach them. They need to know what we are working toward as a family and how it will benefit everyone.
2) Once this was clear, we tackled the discretionary items. We talked about everything from eating out and video games to how many grocery stores and other non-commuting trips we made during the week. We even talked about closing small holes on our budget – you know, that extra candy bar I get every time I go to the pharmacy or that muscle car magazine my husband buys at the newsstand every month. What seems a minimal expense can add up and derail a budget.
3) We agreed as a family – no super committees necessary – on how to spend less. Because of the meeting, all of us understood what needed to be done and how we could support each other. For now, there will be no eating out or buying new magazines; we’ve made plans to use the car less and in general be more mindful when it's time to spend, asking, “Do I really need this?” Just as with Congress, it won't be easy, but at least I hope we are on the right track now.
Yoly Mason writes about frugality and savings tips and tricks in her popular Atlanta-based Spanish-language blog Cuponeando.net.