4 steps to prioritize expenditures

With all of the things that we spend our money on in our families, how do we determine what things are the most important? We need to know what is essential vs. what is desired.

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  • With all of the things that we spend our money on in our families, how do we determine what things are the most important? We need to know what is essential vs. what is desired. You will need to decide what items on your budget you simply can’t do without like the rent, food, utilities and transportation. You will also need to decide what the items are that your family really doesn't need. If and when the budget needs to be trimmed, these are the things that will be trimmed first.

  • Here are some easy steps to prioritizing your family budget items.

  • First – Look at our budget and make sure it is as complete as possible

  • Everything you spend money on or are saving for should be on that budget.

  • Second – Look at each item and assign it a letter

  • Give it an A if you feel that it is absolutely essential. (For example, the rent is hard to do without.) Give it a B if it is needed but can be altered in the amount spent on it. (For example, food can be very costly or quite affordable.) Give a C to items that you could do without if you had no other choice. For example, entertainment or movies might fit in this category. Be sure to label all of them according to YOUR needs. For some, rent may not be as important as family entertainment because you might be living with the in-laws.

  • Third – Now give a number to all of the A’s and then to all of the B’s and then to all of the C’s. Start with the number one for each of the categories. So there would be an A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, etc. These numbers represent the items importance within the letter category. So the most important item in the whole budget will be A1 and the least important items will be marked with the C and the highest number in the C category.

  • Fourth – Now you have them in priority order and if you need to trim your budget, you simply start with the largest C number item and remove it from your budget. Continue up the list until you have trimmed enough to make your budget work with your income.

  • Look at your listing of importance at least once a quarter to see if there is some trimming to be done. Of course if you have had an increase in income, you might be able to add some of those trimmings back into the budget. This exercise will help you to keep in line with your budget and secure a stronger financial future for your family.

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Lyman Rose is the author of five books including "Winning the War Against Debt" and coauthor of "The Debt Stacker" software. He is the owner of Creative Promotions.

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