How to budget money on low income? Money certainly does not grow on trees and that means we all need to be a little clever with the cash we have, to try and make it go that little bit further.
In addition to this rather annoying lack of a money tree situation, it’s also a truth that most of us aren’t earning as much as we want to, or as much as we believe we deserve.
For most of my young adult life I was living with little money due to me drowning in debt! This was because of my lifestyle at the time, I was living the highlife and spending money like it didn’t exist.
Over time I learned how to budget myself and adapt to my situation. I have paid a big chunk of debt off and now I’m in a much better place financially.
Living on a small budget is possible and many people do it. With prices of literally everything on the rise and minimum wage not keeping up, more people are looking to find ways to live with less money.
Today I will be talking you through 10 tips on how to budget on low income.
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How to budget on low income
Honesty is the best policy
It’s no-good setting a budget and not being honest. That would be a complete waste of time!
Sure, it might be painful to sit down and write how much money you have coming in, how much money you have going out, and then trying to divide up the bit that’s left, but it’s a necessary evil if you want the whole process to work for you.
Nobody else has to see your budget, so make sure that you’re honest with yourself.
Many people also find the process of writing these figures down to be quite cathartic and it often proves to be a wake-up call – it might be a rather shocking wakeup call – but it works nonetheless!
Set Up a Budget
Secondly, you need to think about setting up a budget.
Making a budget is fairly simple. It’s following it that becomes difficult.
For example, you would first write down your income for a month at the top. Next list every single expense that needs to be paid monthly. So that includes, rent or mortgage, electricity, water, and even groceries, car payment, and car insurance.
The list goes on. Everyone has different expenses so be sure to list yours and the expected amount of that expense.
Next, you simply subtract all of your expenses from your monthly income and you will have your final amount. By writing everything down on paper you get a very good visual of where all of your money is going and if you need to make any changes to your expenses.
Would you like to know more about creating a budget? Then see our post below:
Track your expenses
No, I don’t mean keep a mental log in your head (although I’m totally guilty of doing that sometimes). I mean actually tracking your expenses – this is an absolute must when you’re trying to save on a low income.
You need to know where your money is going before you can actually start saving.
If you’ve never done this before, this advice applies to you. Track your expenses for one month, starting today.
Tracking your spending for even just a month will give you a far clearer picture of where your money is going and what you need to work on in your budgeting plan.
I’ve listed a few awesome Money Trackers below for both UK and US readers:
These are all completely free to sign up to, so take advantage of the software and have a go at tracking your spending and finances for the month.
Would you like to cut back your expenses, to save money? but don’t know where to start? Then see the post below:
Analyse your spending
First, learn how much you spend each month, and then use that data. Identify where you probably spend more money than you should and work to reduce the spending in that area.
Small changes, one after the other, is what really starts a frugal habit.
Analysing my spending is what makes living on a low income while travelling possible for me. We know how much we earn, how much we spend each month and what our limit is.
Sure, our spending isn’t always perfect and things don’t always go to plan – but arming yourself with some knowledge about your spending is the best first step.
Always, always shop with intention. This is where the list and weekly meal plan comes in. I’ve realised that going grocery shopping without really knowing what we’ll be cooking for the rest of the week, just leads to me over buying.
We pretty much always end up wasting food, which means, we’re wasting money.
Now, before we go grocery shopping, we always make sure to create a weekly meal plan, make a list of what we need and always stick to it. That’s the most important part – sticking with the list!
If you want to start cutting your spending and save more money, you always have to look at what you’re buying. Be aware of where your money is going and make smart choices.
Saving money and living with one income is not easy but it’s also not impossible. I’ve learned that with just a few tweaks and changes in our spending habit, we can even end up saving more money than we anticipated.
Set financial goals
Not only do you need to know why you want to start budgeting in the first place, but it’s also very important to think in terms of specific numbers.
How much debt are you hoping to pay off each month? How much money do you want to put aside in your emergency fund? How much will you be saving to go toward your retirement?
You cannot budget with the vague idea that you want to “save up some money”. Focus on numbers and focus on facts.
Want help setting goals? See my post for setting SMART financial goals:
Eat at home as much as possible
Eating out is a nice treat for every now and again, but when you get into the habit of dining out because you can’t be bother to cook, it becomes and expense game.
After a long day a work, when you’re tired, it’s just the easier option. I’ve done it before, we’ve all done it at one point of time. The thought of cooking after a stressful day is a chore, but there are ways around this.
Batch cooking food is a great way to give yourself a break from the kitchen. For example, you could cook a batch of meals at the weekend and then freeze them. Each day you will then have a meal prepared without having to cook from scratch.
I do this with my workout meals for the week, it saves me a lot of time.
For a family of four, just by eating out a few times a month, you are talking about a few hundred pounds/dollars per month, if not more.
Supercooks is a website that helps you re-create recipes from leftovers.
Just list out the ingredients and let SuperCooks tell you what to cook! Never again will you have to stare at those leftovers in the fridge and wonder what to do with it.
Resist impulse purchases
Have you ever walked into a shop to get something small, such as shampoo and you ended up leaving with a bunch of items that weren’t on your shopping list?
Don’t feel bad if you said yes. It’s called impulse spending and marketers are really good at encouraging consumers to make impulse purchases. This is an unplanned decision to buy a product (or service) right before the purchase is made.
Nearly 78.2% of Brits have succumbed to the temptation to impulse online shopping, according to a recent survey. While it might seem like an impulse buy here and there is harmless, it can sabotage your goals such as paying off debt, building your emergency fund, or saving for a large purchase.
Take advantage of coupons/vouchers to save money.
Honey is a great website for finding vouchers from thousands of retailers online. I have saved money when making purchases on clothes through Honey on several occasions.
Also, Latest Deals is great website for bargains and deals.
While saving money you also earn points though the above sites, which can them be redeemed into a giftcard of your choice.
These sites are no brainer!
For information see my posts for Honey and Latest Deals:
Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Have you ever fell into the trap of starting a trial and then you forgot to cancel your subscription at the end of the week or month? Me too! Companies prey on those who are forgetful! Don’t get me wrong, if I love their service and it’s something I need, I will absolutely pay!
Sometimes, unnecessary subscriptions can be magazines, tv show/movie services, shopping and delivery services or educational programs. Analyse and decide if you really need each.
For example, I have decided that I no longer need to pay a membership fee to get certain products in two days.
I’ve also decided that my subscription for Shutter was not necessary as I wasn’t watching it anymore! Therefore, I cancelled them both. Simple living to save money!
Other posts that may interest you:
Use cashback shopping sites
I use cashback shopping sites such as TopCashback or Quidco for my online purchases. Cashback sites are a way for you to save money every time you shop online at one of its partner retailers using a link from the cashback website.
A percentage of the purchase is returned to you as a cash back rebate when you complete your purchase. Cashback shopping sites offer cash back at thousands of stores and they are free to use.
I use both TopCashback and Quidco to shop online and like them both. I usually check to see which of the cashback sites will give me more money back on my purchase and then shop through that cashback site for my specific purchase.
Rakuten is a great cash back site for those over in the US. In addition, you’ll find thousands of coupons and promo codes from Rakuten. Every quarter Rakuten mails you a cheque or PayPal payment with the cash back you received from shopping online through them.
How to budget on low income – Final thought
So that’s it! These are the actions I recommend to live on low. By putting this into practice, you will definitely start to see the pounds/dollars adding up at the end of the month. And who doesn’t like extra money in their pocket?
What about you? Are you trying to achieve financial freedom? Are you working towards becoming debt free? Is there anything else you’d add to this list? Share with us in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about topics such as lifestyle, self-care, self-development, finance, saving money and making money. Come and join the community!