COVID-19 Update

How to Conduct a Family Financial Audit

With the school year in full swing and the holidays quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to do a family financial audit. Don’t let the sound of it intimidate you. It simply means taking the time to evaluate expenses that affect the whole family and seeing where you can make adjustments to save money. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, right? Be sure to review these spending categories when you conduct your family financial audit.


No two families are alike, so no two families will have the same food budget. How much you spend on food depends on how many people you have in your household, their ages, activity levels and food preferences or restrictions (such as eating vegan or gluten-free).

But regardless of those variations, there are several things you should look at when it comes to how much you’re spending on food, including:

  • How often you go shopping
  • How much food you waste
  • How often you dine out or have food delivered

If your review indicates you’re shopping frequently, wasting a lot of food or relying heavily on take-out or delivery, try these strategies to get your food spending on track:

  • Plan meals and shop with a list
  • Keep your pantry and freezer stocked with basics
  • Take your own lunches, snacks and coffee to work and school
  • Make dining out or delivery an occasional indulgence, rather than a regular habit       Mom and dad conducting a family financial audit with their kids


You might not think entertainment costs take up much of your family budget. But when you stop to think about paying for cable, streaming services, video games, and special events, you’ll change your mind. Add up how much you’re spending every month, and you’ll see there’s probably room to make cuts.

For example, do you really need to subscribe to multiple streaming services? Try cutting it down to one service a month and planning your viewing strategically. Then rotate through the services quarterly for variety. If you’re still paying for cable, it’s easier than ever to cut the cord without missing out on the shows and live events you enjoy. Here are some other ways you can cut the family entertainment budget:

  • Take advantage of free local festivals and other events
  • Use Groupon or Living Social to find discounted tickets for concerts and other lives shows
  • Attend local college or high school sporting events

Travel and Vacation

Everyone deserves a break from the daily grind of work and school. But the cost of putting the whole family on a plane and spending days in a hotel adds up quickly. And using credit cards to finance a vacation just leaves you with a mound of debt to deal with when you get home. Take a look at how much you’ve spent on vacations over the last year. If you’re shocked by the total, try these money-saving ideas:

  • Take weekend road trips to nearby destinations
  • Arrange travel so you can stay with family and friends instead of using hotels
  • Look into family-friendly inclusive resort or cruise packages
  • Offer to host family or friends and have them come to you


There are several expenses you’ll want to review when looking at the family transportation budget, including gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance. If you’ve recently added a teen driver to the family, have them contribute to cover a portion of their gas and insurance. If you find that you’re spending more than you’d like on transportation, here are some money-saving measures to consider:

  • If you have an older vehicle that needs frequent repairs, consider upgrading
  • Follow recommended maintenance schedule; keep up with oil changes and tire rotations
  • Consider carpooling to work or school
  • Ask your employer if you can telecommute once or twice a week to reduce vehicle wear-and-tear
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