Making ends meet with a low budget can be stressful. Here are some ways I made it easier for my family to live comfortably on a low budget.
This topic is one I have grown passionate about. I will admit that in the beginning of my low budget journey, I was stressed and overwhelmed.
I came to this knowledge of living on a low budget early on in my marriage. One thing my husband and I knew for sure is that we wanted me to be home to raise our children, this was my dream. For that to be possible we had to take a leap of faith and so, I quit my job. I actually left my job prior to being pregnant to get a feel for being home. This was hard for me because, at the time, I was the main provider for my family as my husband was navigating his career path.
Shortly after, we took an opportunity to start our own business. This particular business experience was one that taught us many lessons and was not such a blessing. We had a coffee shop on a military base. Our customer base was so inconsistent and our family and friends were not able to go on base to support us. This was a super hard time for our marriage and our budget. We never knew if we would come up short at the end of the month to pay our bills. Not to mention, our social life was almost non-existent because we couldn’t afford to drive anywhere or go to events. This experience did teach us a lot, especially about how to live simply and trust God.
Consider your circumstances and educate yourself
There are a few things you will want to do when you are considering your budget on a low income. For us, we were living on one entry-level income and had a few things that really helped us make it work.
Taking a financial course was so helpful for us. As new a new married couple, Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” course helped us properly communicate and find out our goals, as well as how to reach them. If you have the opportunity to take this course, I cannot recommend it enough. Not every aspect of it works for everyone, but most of it will.
Creating a monthly budget
Something that we still stick to that we learned from the course is creating a budget monthly. We assign every single dollar we make to go somewhere. Doing this makes sure you are on the same page with your spouse and that there are no surprises. This also helps make sure that your hard-earned dollars aren’t disappearing to somewhere you can’t even remember it going. Granted, there will be times that something comes up and that’s okay. Try to have an “extra” fund budgeted in for those last minute additions, such as a birthday party.
The way we keep track of our budget in our home is in a spiral notebook that is designated for monthly budget only. I recommend using pencil if you do this method, as things WILL come up and need modified.
You could also use a spread sheet on Microsoft XL or something. We are old school and have found that pencil and paper works best for us. Keeping track of YOUR budget is all about what works best for You. So, find what is going to keep you accountable and on-track with budgeting and stick with that.
Assign a place for every dollar you make
By creating a budget you can really see exactly what your income is and where every dollar is going. If you don’t, it’s so easy for dollars to seemingly, disappear. Eliminate any unnecessary spending, such as TV streaming, for example. We cut out literally everything we could that was extra, simply because we had to.
It was a blessing having to cut out so many things because it allowed God to miraculously provide month after month for us. Now, I have no fear of money because God has shown us time and time again that He makes a way when there seems to be no way. Watch for a later blog post where I will show you how to create a simple budget.
Food and Sourcing
Grow your own produce, if possible. Not only is it so empowering to know exactly where your food comes from but also, so rewarding to see the fruits of your labor. Once you get your harvest, be sure you preserve it to last you all year.
Finding farmers in your area and making relationships with them helps too. Through a church friend, we met a local potato farmer. We were able to glean potatoes at the end of harvest a couple years ago and they lasted almost the entire year for us.
Grocery shopping for what produce is currently in season is another way to save money. Watch for when things go on sale and plan your meals around utilizing those items. This also ensures you are getting the most nutritional value out of the crop, as well.
Buying in bulk isn’t always an option when you are on a low budget. I know for us, I would have loved to buy in bulk but didn’t have the funds up front. If you are able to, buy pantry items and meat in bulk. Doing so, will save you money in the long run.
Learn some DIY
Being able to make your own clothing, body care, and household products saves a ton of money as well. I have a recipe for a moisturizing body butter that I especially utilize during the colder months. Most recipes utilize the same ingredients. So, once you buy a small handful of essentials, you can make pretty much any household item yourself. All Purpose cleaner is a great place to start and only requires 3 ingredients!
It can be intimidating to someone who is not a DIY-er. For me that was the case, I was not necessarily into making my own household items. I began making my own products out of necessity and I saw how simple it truly is. Another reason why I took the plunge to try making my own products is, I wanted to be able to control what was being used in our home to be more health conscious.
A friend of mine taught me to sew. I bought my sewing machine from the thrift store for $20. It is not the best machine but it gets the job done. Ever since then, I’ve collected fabric I like from thrift stores and used them to create my own clothing and household items, like these tea towels, when necessary. Practice makes perfect, so just start sewing and you will get the hang of it.
Taking that first step to budget
In the end, quitting my job was the best decision I ever made. Trusting my husband, and ultimately God, has brought nothing but blessings on this at-home journey. Even owning our own business was a blessing in terms of what we learned through it and how God grew our faith.
Just take that first step to get out the pencil and paper and crunch the numbers. You’d be amazed the things you find out about where your money goes. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Let your budget reflect a love for Christ by living simply and being good stewards with what you have been entrusted. Once you get started with budgeting monthly, it truly becomes second nature.
I pray you were encouraged by this to begin budgeting and being good stewards with what you have been entrusted.
If you have other budgeting tips that work well for you, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
More encouragement from My abiding home:
This came at a good time. I’ve been convicted for some time and I wasn’t sure why I mean because I just wanted us to save more money to spend without the anxiety of oh no we are “broke” again. I was never taught budgeting because I grew up living pay check after pay check. I remember telling my mom about a budget but we couldn’t afford that. I believe it’s nonsense. I’m grateful my MIL will be helping me out with this and hopefully will be better at spending wisely not blindly!!
Thank you so much for this, will keep doing more DIY household stuff and maybe get a Costco card to do bulk on certain items. We have been struggling and we were stretched thin even buying food became stressful. It doesn’t help with an economy going downhill. But will keep my trust in Jesus!
Breanna Wilson says
It is definitely hard to make sacrifices. I commend you for wanting to save your family money, what a godly woman you are! Amen, great job trusting in Him. He will provide, I can attest this.
I find your story and leap of faith very compelling…now I want to know more!
Breanna Wilson says
Tanks! I definitely have grown so much since trusting God. It’s so cool to see what he has done. There will be future posts more in depth on this so, watch for that. I’ll probably end up doing a video so share on this post as well with more about this too.
These are great tips! I love budgeting and when I was younger and on a low income with 4 children at home I found Amy Dacyczyn’s books like the Tightwad Gazette at our local library. If your library doesn’t carry any of them I’m sure you can find them for less than $5 used online. She was a military wife on a very low income with 6 children who bought an old farm house in Maine. While she didn’t promote a healthy menu as much as I liked, I learned so much from her and her “attitude” towards spending. She made it fun. Don’t look at her books as though they are out of date, read them to understand her point of view. Still today I enjoy a delicious homemade dinner with friends rather than going out to eat for 3 times the cost. I still enjoy free things to do outdoors that can be so much fun rather than going on expensive outings. When we did venture out to Disneyland or somewhere, we would pack lunches and snacks and water bottles to put in their lockers. We only did this if we found a great deal which made it even more fun knowing we found a bargain. She showed me how to make my own yogurt and laundry soap, etc. I still only by meat when it is on sale and then I stock up. She showed me how to keep a notebook where I would put the cost of a food item we used in it and then I would shop around. When I saw something that we used on sale I knew to stock up. For instance, my family loves smoked or baked pork ribs and they often go on sale here for $2.99lb. Every once in a while I find them for $1.99lb and that is when I buy in bulk. Make it a fun challenge and you will succeed!
Breanna Wilson says
That is so great to hear that you had that wonderful resource. It’s been a blessing to be confident with budgeting for sure!