Cosette Jarrett has some thoughts on the intersection of technology and a healthy world for your family.
Planning a family budget is perhaps one of the most stressful tasks a parent faces. As much as you’d like to give your spouse and your children the world, your household income can only be stretched so far. What makes this even more difficult is the constant advancement of technology.
As new iPhone’s, tablets, and wearables are introduced to the market, the pressure to keep up gets more and more intense. Your kids, coworkers, and friends all discuss the latest and greatest tech on the daily, making it seem impossible to keep up. Fortunately, there are ways to adapt without blowing your budget.
Check out these eight tips to hold on to your family budget as the tech world continues to drive consumer demand.
- Know your needs
Drawing the line on what you need and what you don’t can be tough. When a new phone or tablet comes out and you’re considering an upgrade, think about your options. Do you really need to upgrade, or could your current device be fixed for cheaper?
Take for example a broken iPhone screen. You could either go back to the store and spend $600 or more on the latest model, or take it to a local phone repair shop and spend anywhere from $100-$150 to fix so it will last a few more years.
- Compare and save
High speed internet connection has become a necessity in almost every U.S. household. Although a seamless internet experience is awesome, it can get a bit pricey depending on how much bandwidth you need for your home. Try an online comparison tool to gain a better understanding of how cost and level of service differs among ISPs in your area. Once you’ve found a great provider, try haggling a bit and resist the urge to add on extras.
- Find alternatives
Try not to get in the habit of buying from the first store you visit. Shop around to find deals at other locations. You might even find similar products that serve the same function for much cheaper. PC Mag has a great post on this that highlights 11 apps you can download to compare prices at different stores quickly and easily.
- Teach your children to budget
“Because I said so” is quite possibly one of the worst explanations you can offer a child for your decisions. Rather than tell your children they’re simply not getting something they’re asking for, try explaining why. Children have a much easier time understanding why you say “no” sometimes when they understand the basics of budgeting. Bankrate offers a great guide to teaching your child to budget.
- Make a gratitude list
Managing your children’s wants is one thing. Managing your own wants is another. The best way to do this is to start making a daily gratitude list. Take a moment at the end of each day to list at least ten things you are grateful for. This will help you realize how fortunate you are and show you just how trivial some issues are.
- Don’t succumb to store credit
Store credit can be quite the temptress. Although a store credit card might seem like a fantastic idea for purchasing the items you want before your paycheck comes in, it’s important to note that store credit cards typically come with sky high APRs attached. Resist the urge to sign up for store credit cards and opt for waiting to purchase the things you need/want when you have the money to do so.
- Set up an earning system
This is part of teaching your child to budget, but also worth mentioning on its own. When you set up an earning system for your child, you teach them that they can have the things they want so long as they work for them. Clearly, this is an important trait that they will hopefully carry on through adulthood.
- Learn to say “no”
Last but certainly not least, it’s important for parents to learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. Implementing the preceding tips will make this a bit easier, but it’s also important to hear why it’s alright to say “no” sometimes. That’s where another awesome parenting resource comes in. If you still feel like saying no will be a struggle for you, check out this article by The Mother Company to find out how putting your foot down now will benefit your children in the future.
Being a parent in the age of constant technological advancement can be tough, but it’s not impossible! Hopefully these tips will help you as you set and enforce your 2016 budget as the year brings new desires for the latest and greatest electronic devices. If you have a question or an additional tip, let me know in the comments below