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Budgeting for the Economically Challenged

By Nikki Willhite

There have been a zillion articles written on how to set up a budget. Some of them just do not help those who are really struggling with money.

It would be nice if you could decide how much money you needed for every expensive you have, write it down, and then plan for it. It would be nice to set aside money for unexpected expenses, so that when things happened, the money would be there.

However, if you are living on a very tight budget, every expense other than a fixed expense can seem like an emergency.

Those living on small incomes must be creative all through the month. Means must be found to save money in one area when money must be spent in another area.

The things you can write down are your fixed expenses. These are the items that are a "given". You must pay your rent or mortgage, and you know what that amount is.

Write down all the other expenses that occur with regularity. When you are done, you will have a sum of money that is left.

This is where you have discretion. This money has to cover items that vary, like food, clothing, or entertainment expenses.

The first 10 years we were married, we were so economically challenged, we didnít spend anything on entertainment. I remember seeing one movies the first 10 years we were married- Jaws, which shows you how old I am.

Food trips were occasionally missed, and clothing was kept to a bare minimum.

Many of you have read my clothing strategy in previous issues. If you havenít, here is the link to the articles on Saving Money on Clothing. (I think I finally began wearing separates when I overheard girl in the Church I attended refer to me as "The girl who always wears the blue dress". Apparently, that was how I was referred to by those who didn't know me. It was kind of embarrassing, and it led to change).

When you are struggling with your money, the easiest way to budget is to write down your fixed expenses, and then put the amount of money that is left on a sheet of paper.

As you spend money during the month, subtract it from that figure. If you save money at the grocery store, you will improve your position.

If you find a piece of clothing you need at a garage sale, you will help your budget.

Obviously, the idea is to keep your spending down so that when the end of the month comes, you will not be out of money.

It requires creativity and it is something you have to work at every day. However, when money is scarce, it is what you have to do.

If it is at all possible, you should pay yourself first- as part of your fixed expenses. You should set some money aside and never touch it unless it is for a very good reason.

If you can manage to put some money away each month, preferably in an IRA, you will never feel poor, no matter how hard you struggle, how small your income, or how used your clothing.

That is what this website and The Pennypincher E-zine, Tightwad Tidbits, and so many like it, are all about. Save on the things that don't matter to you, so you can have the things that do matter to you, get your financial affairs in order through frugal living.

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Category:  Money

Related Links | BudgetingCreditDebt |
| Identity Theft
| Investing | Retirement |

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