Family Budget Meetings: What's the Agenda?

Having a family budget is smart for every family, young, old, low-income, or high-income. When you know how much money is coming in and where it's going, you have a more solid foundation for living the other parts of your life.

Many parents are uncomfortable discussing things like income in front of kids, because face it: kids talk. Nodiv wants their neighbor or the parents of their kids' friends knowing how much Mom and Dad earn. But there are aspects of the family budget that don't get into sensitive finances, and older kids who need to know what's going on can be told how important it is to avoid sharing personal financial information.

Benefits of Having Family Budget Meetings

Family budget meetings are terrific for increasing financial responsibility and increasing cooperation when, say, Mom and Dad have different spending and saving philosophies. Including children can help teach them financial literacy - something that will serve them well once they're grown.

Believe it or not, family budget meetings can actually help couples who tend to fight over money. They're a way to not only hash out how the bills are going to get paid, but also to learn about each other's values, experiences, and outlooks. Talking about money gets at people's core beliefs and helps partners know and understand each other better.

Next step: Sign up for Mint and create your family budget in minutes.

How Often to Have Family Budget Meetings

Most people choose to have the family budget meeting once a month. This is usually frequent enough that nothing can get too out of control since the last meeting, and infrequent enough not to seem like a chore. Plus, just about every month has its financial differences. In January you're generally facing high heating bills. In August, you're buying back-to-school supplies. In November, you're planning Thanksgiving. A monthly meeting lets you handle changes without micromanaging family spending and saving.

How to Hold a Family Budget Meeting

Put the phones away and turn off the television. Set a specific time, or it will be too easy to put off or forget. Gather statements and bills beforehand and bring a notepad and pen to jot down notes. Discuss how things have changed since last month, and what impact you expect it to have. If you're facing a month when the budget will be tight, talk about ways to lessen the impact. Even children can help brainstorm ways to save. Discuss ideas and come to an agreement about how you'll meet this month's challenges.

On the other hand, if your family budgeting has been bearing fruit, you can thank everyone for their help in making that happen and discuss ways to improve further. If you've found a way to save $50 extra per month, discuss how you want to use that extra. Whatever your situation, try to end all your family budget meetings on a happy note. You don't want a month of negative feelings to precede your next meeting.

Special Family Budget Meetings

Sometimes you may need to call a special family budget meeting. Perhaps one parent loses a job, or has chosen to stay home with the children. Or maybe unexpected medical expenses have come up and it will affect your budget. Calling a special family budget meeting gets everyone on the same page and is a way for everyone to feel like they have a role to play in handling times when finances are difficult.

Family Budget Tools

When you use a great family budget app like Mint, it's easy to track saving, spending, and financial goals all in one place. You can even create easy charts and graphs that show how you're doing financially, which can be very valuable during your family budget meetings. Mint helps you reach your financial goals, helps you get back on track when finances are tight, and helps you see and celebrate your progress toward your goals. It can make talking about family finances simpler and less emotional.

The family budget meeting is a terrific way to unite as a family and have everyone feel as if they are contributing to the family's financial health. By helping keep your finances on track, the family budget meeting lets you enjoy the other parts of your life that much more.

Next step: Sign up for Mint and create your family budget in minutes.