Expert Interview with Canadian Budget Binder on Saving Money with the Whole Family for Mint

The anonymous bloggers behind Canadian Budget Binder show us, step by step, how to build a better budget for the entire family. Mr. CBB took a moment to talk with us about budgeting for the whole family and how to put it together.

When you're building a family budget, where do you start?

What a family wants to do is understand that a budget is not a jail sentence, rather a means to guide you towards your financial goals.

The first thing that we did when building our budget was "gather the information," which is necessary so you know everything there is to know about your current financial situation. Without numbers, you can't move forward in the budgeting process. Budgeting for many people seems like a difficult task because they have to source out these figures, but they are critical to the success of any budget, whether you use one you create or a free online budget.

We designed our budget based on a 10-step process that we created while putting our budget together. This has worked in our favor over the years. Your finances is like a book, and without reading page by page, you can get lost in the shuffle.

What are some creative ways to save money with a family to pay for?

This is such a huge topic, but the first creative way to save money is to use a budget. If you are looking for simple ways to save, looking at your expenses is key.

If you need to free up money, then cut back on services that you can do without, such as the cable or a cell phone. The grocery budget is another area which is easy to cut back on. Using coupons and coupon apps help to save a bit more money in your pocket each week. Shopping second-hand stores is a brilliant way to find new to you items for a fraction of the retail costs.

Online sites such as Facebook also have auctions and freebie pages you can take advantage of. If you want to save money, remember that you don't have to have the best of the best right away. It's smarter to save up for what you need in the budget, then buy it one by one.

How did the Grocery Game Challenge get started?

The Grocery Game Challenge started after we began our budget and started tracking our expenses. Like I mentioned, without accurate data, you can't move forward with the budget nor set any goals. Sure, goals can change, but the important part is to have something you are working towards.

If someone wants to quit smoking, for example, they need to know the benefits so they motivate themselves to continue butting out. The same goes with a budget. If you can't motivate yourself, you're liable to throw in the towel.

When most people want to cut back in the budget, one of the first places they go to is the grocery budget. We were not shocked when we saw how much we were spending, as we used coupons and shopped flyer specials, but we knew it was still too much.

Our grocery bill has gone up over the past years, which is understandable with inflation and re-evaluating our spending. There is much to consider when deciding on a budget for groceries.

Over the years, we've inspired many families to join the Grocery Game Challenge, and they continue to post their shops to keep them on track. It's an online tracking system that keeps us all accountable for our shopping habits. It's easier to say no when you have to report back.

If you could go back in time, what financial advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could go back in time, I would have told myself not to sell my first flat so fast because I could have made quite a bit more money if I had just held on. I rushed out of one sale into another.

I would also go back and use a budget. I know it's hard to believe, but not everyone uses a budget, but what I learned is that we can't manage money in our heads. A business has an accountant for a reason, and we should treat our finances like a business.

I never did budget in my younger years. I bought my first house at 21 years old and my second at 24, and the money came from just being frugal and watching how much money I spent. If I was tracking my expenses, I likely could have targeted other areas I could have improved on.

What money-saving tools do you recommend for those trying to clean up their finances?

We created our own budget in Excel and offer it free on the blog for those who want a simple budget. It seems to be popular with our fans, although for those that want something a bit more elite, they can use such free services like Mint.com.

It really depends on the person and what they are comfortable with. We are happy just to hear that our fans are thinking about their finances and using a budget that works for them.

We also have free money-saving tools like our Net Worth tracker and many other tools such as the Grocery List, Freezer Inventory list, Pantry list, Meal Planning, Over-time Tracking lists, etc., that are important for keeping track of expenses.

What trends should we be watching in personal finance?

I think we will see that coupons aren't going to be as readily available in the stores like they used to be. I also think that people are wanting to get control of their debt and are seeking out tips online from those that have lived through it in hopes of getting started. People are starting to understand how important savings are, whether it be from using a budget, paying down a mortgage, debt and investing in their future.

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