This is a fun little game in which the members of a household role play a little to help them save money. In this game, the family or roommates will play the part of the board of directors for the home or apartment business. Right away this will prove useful as you vote for a chairman or chairwoman and a financial officer. The chairman will ‘host’ the meetings and the financial officer will draw up the budget.
It is very important to have a budget figured out so that you have a firm grasp on how much it costs to live in your home/apartment, and how much discretionary spending is available. In a family this budget would include all costs and income, where as in the case of roommates the budget would clearly define each person’s responsibility. Now that we have the host and the budget, we need to talk about the meeting.
The first meeting would declare the budget, and determine a few things that could be negotiated. Several suggestions besides just discretionary spending include food, entertainment and utilities. Food could be done with a basic monthly budget consisting of basic meals and packed lunches when needed. If a member of the ‘board’ wished to lobby for an increase to the budget, or a one-time charge, say for a birthday party, they could draw up the estimated cost or new budget and bring forward a motion to relax the budget.
For example, someone could say, “We have been getting by on $250 a month for food, but we have two birthdays next month and that is going to increase our costs. I propose a combined party with dinner, a cake, and snacks costing no more than $60.” The board members could vote and if agreed, the $60 could either be released to the party planner to buy the supplies or added to the spreadsheet to indicate that an extra $60 is going to go on the check card this month. If they can not come up with the $60, then perhaps they can approve a smaller amount, or discuss a few ways to cut the budget somewhere else for the month.
It could get very interesting if there are two teenagers trying to get approval to buy concert tickets, or Mom wants to go see a play, but Dad wants to go to a football game. Now you may be wondering just how utilities could be negotiated. Let me explain. In the middle of the summer when it starts to get hot, a team of board members, who share in their desire to turn on the air conditioning would have to locate a way to shave costs somewhere else in order to bring about a proposal to go up for a vote. “I propose that in lieu of going to the mall this month and also with the money that will be saved by mixing our own Gatorade for the baseball games instead of buying drinks at the snack bar, that we lower the thermostat from 78 degrees to 76 degrees for the month of July.” The meetings themselves would be fun and could help lower the overall entertainment budget.
The financial officer could also be responsible for (or nominate a committee to help) researching current interest rates and where to put the savings account. Obviously, if your savings is earning higher interest, you may be able to have a few dollars available for use on a project or excursion. This could also be very helpful in finding ways for everyone to share the burden of saving up the funds required for a summer vacation or a large purchase.
You could begin or end each meeting with a discussion of the current funds. Hearing a rundown of how much money is in an ING account called “SummerTrip” and a second named “PoolPasses,” as well as the current balances of Christmas clubs as well as the total remaining on last years loan before it is paid off could bring together the ‘board’.
What this all means is that the budget and money decisions are a group effort and everyone learns the financial importance of the things they want to do. It’s a way to get the entire family involved instead of a single person dictating and also will help everyone learn to budget better through discussion and negotiations. The family that figures out a budget together, lives happier together.