When you have a low-income, managing your budget almost always feels like a challenge. Typically, it seems as though there just isn’t enough money to cover all of your expenses, and the smallest issue can become a huge problem. But there are ways to stretch your budget to give you the most breathing room possible. With that in mind, here are some tips to help low-income families make ends meet.
Use a Cash Only Approach to Shopping
If you know how much you can afford to spend in a category, like on groceries, shifting to a cash only system can help you stay on target. This prevents you from overspending, as you can just buy based on the amount of actual dollars you have on-hand. You should even leave your cards at home, as this makes it impossible to abandon your plan on a whim.
If you’re in a situation where borrowing is needed to purchase bigger ticket items such as a fridge, washer, furniture, etc. Avoid high interest finance and look to non-profits and responsible lending providers that provide funds with minimal to no fees and low or no interest finance.
Take Control of Your Food Spending
Grocery bills can add up fast, so getting a handle on your food spending is a great place to start when you need to stretch your budget. First, you need to learn to plan your meals around local store sales and traditionally low-cost staple foods, like rice and beans. You can review advertisements to find the best deals and supplement these with inexpensive staples. Then, create a menu based on three meals a day for at least an entire week, and use that to create a shopping list.
Once your list is made, and you’ve hit the store, don’t deviate from it. Impulse purchases can add up quickly, so you need to stay focused and only buy based on your plan. This makes it easier to stick to your budget and can even speed up the shopping process along the way.
Keep Water and Electricity Bills Low
While you can’t avoid water and electricity entirely, there are a lot of ways to bring these expenses down. Some simple tricks, like unplugging appliances that aren’t in use and turning off the lights when you leave a room, can lead to serious savings, especially over time. Anything that is plugged in or turned on is draining power, even when not in use. So, eliminate these, and you could see an almost immediate reduction in your electricity bill.
You can also decrease your water bill by using water more efficiently. Actively work to take shorter showers or consider installing a high-efficiency showerhead. You should even turn off the faucet whenever it isn’t actively in use, such as when you are brushing your teeth, and repair any leaks in your plumbing. Waiting to run laundry machines and dishwashers until they are full can also help, or make sure to at least adjust the water level when doing partial loads.
Buy Second Hand
Often, you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing some of your clothing, furniture, and household goods second hand. Many used items still have a lot of life in them, and you can buy them at prices far below traditional retail. This can be especially helpful for big-ticket goods, as these can easily turn into budget busters without proper planning.
If you have a low-income, keeping an eye on your spending and using the tips above can make it easier to get by. With any luck, you may even be able to begin saving, making it easier to set yourself up for a brighter future.