How to Write a Family Budget for Crisis Times?

UTC by Andy Watson · 7 min read
How to Write a Family Budget for Crisis Times?
Photo: Depositphotos

Family budgeting is something we all need to pay a lot of attention to. Here are the tips to remember to start writing the new budget for your family.

Let’s be honest, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue affecting your finances for months, possibly years to come. Until we find a way to end it once for all, we need to be careful about how we work, have fun, and shop. The situation with family budgeting is something we need to pay a lot of attention to.

There’s been a cancellation of many events that we might attend to prevent the spread of the virus. We’re not going to shopping malls and stores to buy things. Yet, it doesn’t mean that your finances are safe.

Income loss is a real issue that’s becoming more serious each day. In just five weeks in April 2020, 26 million people have lost their jobs and applied for unemployment benefits.

Regardless of your profession and family size, you need to revisit your family budget.

Here are the tips to remember to start writing the new budget for your family.

Start By Making A List of Essential Needs and Services

Before writing the budget, you and your family need to decide on the essential needs and services. They include food, clothing, rent, healthcare, and other things you need to keep yourself going.

Ask your family members to provide their recommendations to know what they need. Compile everything in one list and go through each item together. Non-essential items like traveling or buying new electronics should not be on the list.

Let your family know that it’s best not to buy things like additions clothing and gadgets. It could be especially tempting right now when many of us are staying at home, often browsing online stores. In fact, surveys found that 45 percent of consumers bought non-essential items during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Here are some ideas and recommendations on essential needs and services:

  • food: groceries, fruits, vegetables, frozen foods, special foods for infants and children, canned goods, fish, meat, etc.
  • clothing: preferably, you shouldn’t buy any new clothes if you need to save. But, you can include clothing items that you buy to replace something
  • housing: rent, utilities, laundry costs, etc.
  • transportation: the cost of fuel. Try to work from home if possible to save commute costs and potential car repair charges

What to save:

  • premium subscriptions for online services and apps. Let’s demonstrate: if you cancel YouTube premium ($11.99), a gym membership ($50), and one manicure session ($22), you can save $83.99 every month!
  • takeout and delivery. If you can, try cooking home from scratch, it will save you around $50 every month
  • don’t buy coffee. Save a few visits to Starbucks and make coffee at home.

Everybody needs to understand that saving money now is as important as ever. That’s why your list must include only essential items that your family needs.

Read more: How to Manage Personal Finance?

Calculate a Specific Monthly Budget

When you know essential items to buy, you can make decent monthly budget predictions. It’s important to make them as specific as possible to have a good understanding of where you are.

That’s why the next step is to write a table with two columns.

In the left column, list the essential items you typically buy. Try to be as specific as possible; this will help to ensure that the total expenses resemble your real monthly budget.

In the right column, place the cost of each item. The last row should contain the total sum of the expenses.

Total Monthly Expenses$550

Having a specific number saves you from wondering where your money goes every month. This is especially relevant today when spending should be careful, agree?

Besides, by tracking your spending this way, you’ll be more confident that your budget is well-spent.

Read more: 7 Essential Financial Advice That Will Help You Manage Your Budget.

Make a Special “Emergency” Section

These are unpredictable and tough times, let’s be honest.

That’s why you need to have a small emergency budget just in case, and the amount should be based on the calculations you’ve made before.

Make a section in your budget doc with an “Emergency” section. It’ll have the info about how much you have saved for unpredictable situations.

Here’s a simple formula for calculating an emergency budget:

TM – ME = EB


  • TM – the total monthly income,
  • ME – the monthly expenses you calculated in the previous section,
  • EB – the emergency budget.

Did you get the emergency budget of less than $200? Then consider saving the same amount for several subsequent months. At least. Having an emergency budget is always a good idea, both for personal and professional financial documents.

Never underestimate emergencies at this difficult time.

The unemployment rate is projected to reach as high as 20.5 percent – which is more than two times than during the Great Depression – so everybody needs to be as prepared as well as possible.

Track Your Overspending

Chances are that you’ll go over the budget in the first month after starting to monitor your spending. That’s totally fine because you might not be used to managing your personal finances this way.

To know how much you’ve spent and why try writing down each purchase you made that led to overspending in your budget doc. At the end of the month, compare your actual spending with the budget to see the difference.

If you ended up spending a lot more than expected, do your best to avoid unnecessary purchases of the same items next month.

Set a Goal for Saving

If possible, consider setting a specific sayings goal for your family budget. You can start with a small amount like $200 and increase it to $400 if the budget allows it.

Discuss this goal with your family and decide if it’s possible to save a certain amount of money now. Saving is a great budgeting skill that will come in handy many times.

Leave 20 Percent of the Budget for the Wants

Yes, you’re not supposed to spend money on things like dinners, takeout, and gifts, but sometimes treating yourself is simply necessary. If you don’t have debt and your spending goes as planned, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself once in a while.

20 percent of your budget could be a perfect amount for that. It’s not much, but just enough to have some fun. Remember: your budget is not a tool for keeping you from enjoying your life but a way to be organized.

Use a Family Budget Template

Let’s combine all the sections in one template. Feel free to copy it in a Google Doc to keep all budget calculations and keep track of your expenses in one place.

Family Budget Template

  1. The List of Essential Needs:
  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3
  • Item 4
  1. The Monthly Budget Based on Essential Needs
Total Monthly Expenses$550
  1. Emergency budget: $XX
  2. Savings Goal: $XX
  3. Saved last month: $XX

Having a written monthly family budget is a good idea to make tracking expenses and saving easier.

You Need a Family Budget

Spending money wisely is very important today. With the threat of the pandemic gripping the world, everyone needs to become better at how they spend their money. Having a family budget is a good way to stay organized and prepared for emergencies, so start budgeting today – as this article showed you, it’s not difficult at all!

The article was provided by Dorian Martin.

Dorian Martin is a content writer and business writing expert at BestWritingAdvisor. As someone with vast experience in public relations and media communications, he specializes in the art of blog writing and copywriting for the web, as well as providing custom coursework writing for students on business-related topics.

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