Monthly budgeting when money is tight and trying to pay everything is a real struggle for a lot of families. Whether it’s because of a job loss, medical bills, or too much debt, not having enough money to go around is a real stressor and can have a lot of negative effects both socially, emotionally and even physically.
Last year, my and my family went through our own financial emergency with the loss of a high paying job and suddenly budgeting became a harsh reality. We had house bills, medical bills, our credit card bill, our rental property bills all in the four months leading up to Christmas. We cancelled vacations, we cancelled subscriptions, we stopped going out for dinner. We didn’t tell our families what was going on as we hoped that it would just be a temporary thing and didn’t want to worry them. We really struggled to come to terms with our new reality, but we had to buckle down and created a monthly budget sheet that truely outlined everything that we had…and didn’t.
Now, we were better than most in that position because we had enough savings in reserve to hold us over while we looked for another position, but the uncertantey took a huge emotional toll on us and the shear daily stress made me physically ill. We considered selling our house, emptying our retirement funds if it really came down to it…all while pretending that everything was okay for everyone to see.
The only positive light in this dark time was sticking to our new monthly budget sheet (get it here!) that really helped us target exactly where our money was coming and going and fortunately after almost 5 long months, we were able to get another job. As we have moved onto bigger and better things, we still use that same monthly budget sheet and have made it a part of our accountability for our money each month.
I have written a general post, especially during the holidays, on budgeting and how to stick to it. The principles are still the same, but when there isn’t enough money to go around, I have found people don’t think there is a point to making a budget…this couldn’t be further from the reality.
After our great financial crisis, we learned that budgeting is the key item to our financial wellbeing and that it grounded us and gave us peace of mind. To this day, we still have a family budget, I have a blog expense spreadsheet and budget too- we learned the hard way that you have to know exactly what you are spending and saving each month.
If you don’t have enough money to go around, you especially need a budget.
If you are going through a hard time right now or are simply interested in how to set up a thorough monthly budget sheet, check out this link to the exact sheet that we use…and its FREE. Here are three ways that we have learned how to monthly budget when money is tight.
How to Monthly Budget When Money is Tight
STEP 1: WRITE IT DOWN
Just like any budget, you still have to write it down. The difference will be how you prioritize the monthly budget. When you don’t have enough money or have an irregular income, you have to decide what will be paid first. So on paper it will be laid out a little different from if you have a set steady income stream.
When you write down your budget, you spend less because you can see where your money is going. When you have a tight budget, you should be following your budget more closely than anyone else.
STEP 2: PRIORITIZE SPENDING
Now, if you do have a steady set income, just not enough to pay everything right now, you still prioritize the month and then prioritize each paycheck to make sure that you can pay the most important things first.
What I want you to do is make a list in order what needs to be paid first. It should look something like this:
Food, water, power, rent/mortgage, car insurance, car payment, other insurances, then non-priority things like, cell phone, credit card or loan payments, TV ect.
You should always pay for food first. There are many ways to save money on groceries even without coupons. For more ways to save on groceries, check out my post here. I shared how we cut our food budget in half and found so many ways to save money of food both online and in the store.
Next, you layout what will be paid out of each paycheck. I have found this works best for our family. I have a budget for each paycheck and we split bills by each paycheck (mortgage on one, car payment on other). This helps stay on budget for food and gas too. (expert tip: don’t go the grocery store hungry as you will overspend!)
So, now you should have a general priority list and a priority list for each paycheck.
STEP 3: STICK TO THE BUDGET
This should go without saying but writing a budget down and prioritizing the funds in a budget means nothing if you don’t actually follow it. I have heard people say things like “I don’t make any money anyway so what does a budget matter” and things like that…this is crazy talk. EVERYONE NEEDS TO HAVE A BUDGET!! It works for not only paying bills, but also saving money too.
A budget is simply telling you where your money needs to go. If you don’t make enough to pay your bills each month, you still have to tell what little you have where to go. And as we learned the hard way, this doesn’t change if you make a little or a lot.
You maybe thinking: This is all well and good, but I don’t have enough to pay my bills, what should I do now?
The first thing that I’m still going to tell you to write a budget so that when money does come in, you know where it should go. If you don’t, it will go to things it shouldn’t (think Starbucks, fast-food etc.). I know this from personal experience. Pay what you can, when you can. The rest can wait because I promise you, there will be a time when you can afford to pay for it again.
The second thing I will tell you is to try to find ways to make extra money. Whether that is selling anything and everything you possibly can in addition to looking for a new job. We went through our house and found everything that we could sell in a garage sale. We also cut bills down by getting rid of the extra tv channels, satellite radio in the car…small things that really do add up. You may even need to look into government assistance or other assistance programs to help you temporarily if need-be.
Your long-term goal should always be to increase your income, even after you get out of your financial crisis. That may mean going back to school, even community college, or taking a risk and starting a new job or your own business such as a blog like me!
There are many ways to bring in some income, even as a stay at home mom or if you have lost your job. There are sites that will pay you to take surveys, you can research online or stay at home positions that will give you a little extra income. Make sure that you use some common sense to check for scams before you get started. None of the reputably companies will ever ask you to pay money to work with them.
You can even start a blog. Now starting a blog is not a get rich quick scheme by any means, take it from me…it takes time! You may not even make any money for months. It is a gamble just like starting any other business, however in the long run, if you run it like a business it could pay off. I know many bloggers that make a full-time income “just” blogging. It is a lot of work but once you get a good schedule going, it gets easier.
Blogging has seriously changed my life and has given me the freedom to not have to depend on anyone for the happiness and success in my life. Check out my post and free eGuide on how to start a blog!
You can start a blog through BlueHost using my link and get hosting as low as $3.95/month.
For some quick ideas for paying off debt, check out my top posts here:
Let me know in the comments what are some ways that you budget or save money when you feel like there isn’t enough money to go around. If you are going through a difficult time, you are not alone! You can turn it around and pay all your bills by learning how to budget and take responsibility for every penny.
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