Living on a tight budget

July 20, 2017

A lot of us find it difficult to bring home enough money to pay the bills let alone put food on the table.

For a long time I struggled with my tight budget, and sometimes I still do, But I want to put together a few things that have helped me, I’m no financial expert but I do have real life experience in struggling to pay the bills and feed my family.


I bought myself a financial year diary, and sat down with my phone, a calculator & a pen. I estimated a minimum pay check amount for each week and put repeat reminders in my phones calendar so I knew exactly when each bill was coming in or being direct debited from my account. I wrote down in the financial diary on the day I get paid each expected bill and the total amount of expenses so I know exactly how much I am left with, sometimes there is nothing left.


I set myself a grocery budget and make sure groceries are never much more than that. In saying that I keep an eye out for amazing deals that will save me money down the track, things like toilet paper or tissues that don’t have an expiry date, or meats and vegetables that are freezable. I find it helpful to check out your local shops catalogues & specials first, remember you don’t have to buy everything from the same place. shopping around will save you money!


What I mean by that is putting money away in an emergency fund, I think the most important thing to remember is to have a back up plan. Unexpected things happen, a bill you forgot was due, a medical emergency, a fur baby needs a trip to the vet, job loss etc. I include $50 to put away for myself every week, I act as if this is a bill that needs to be paid weekly, you can pay yourself more or less than I do, whatever you find manageable. I like to have a minimum of $8,000 in my emergency fund, that way I know I have enough to live for 8 weeks (2 months) without an income in case something happens.


Set yourself realistic goals, If you’re like me you probably have a credit card or personal loan you are wanting to pay off sooner rather than later I did the math and worked out a realistic time frame for me to have my credit card paid off, I try to be as consistent as possible with payments. With credit cards be wary of due payment amounts, those nasty over due fees soon add up. Setting yourself goals you know you cant achieve yet will only make you feel like you are failing and you’ll lose your motivation, I find it best to set short term goals first and then base your long term goals on those.


Don’t quit just because you had a bad week. Life happens, we all have unexpected emergencies or over indulge on that super awesome outfit we saw and couldn’t go home without, but just because you slipped up this week doesn’t mean you should toss your financial plan to the wind. Your emergency fund is there for a reason but I know from experience it isn’t always enough.


Make and grow what you can, growing your own is always cheaper in the long run, for example: I could go to the super market and buy a 10 gram packet of chives for $3 that will go rotten and need throwing out if I don’t use it all and I’d probably be wasting $2.70c worth of my chives, or I could go to the nursery and buy a $3.50 punnet of chives that will likely live for years grow bigger and be fresh ready to pick whenever I want to use it, actually my chives are still going strong 3 years later and i probably use 10grams a week in my cooking, $3x52weeks=$156 per year or $3.50 for 3 plus years, which option would you pick? We don’t all have room for giant veggie gardens and elaborate herb collections but there are options for small spaces, like container gardens, you can grow a crop of potatoes in a large flower pot! We all have our favourite herbs we use often in our cooking, choose your most used herbs and vegetables and start with them.


Once you’ve got your head around your budget set yourself a challenge, if there is next to nothing left after your budget try a simple challenge like never spending a $5 note, or even a $2 coin, put them away for 6 months or so and then when the times up count what you’ve saved, you’d be surprised how quickly it all adds up!

Let me know if this helps you, or if you have any other tips & tricks that have helped you get through financial difficulty.

Good Luck!

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