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Simple Budgeting Strategies for Low-Income Families

Supporting a family with a low income can be an extremely challenging juggling act, especially if you’re new parents who are trying to adjust to the arrival of siblings that are close in age or twins. Not having enough to make ends meet can make anyone feel horrible, and sometimes it can take a bit of creativity and resourcefulness to get past those particularly hard times.

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Fortunately, with a bit of experience and the right budgeting strategies, most families adapt fairly well to the strain of poverty and many even make their way up to the middle or upper class. If you’re taking care of a family on a low income and have found a few loopholes that make your lifestyle and household just a bit more sustainable, you’re probably wondering if there are any more budgeting hacks you can use to become a big baller on a budget or a certified couponing celebrity.

In fact, there must be hundreds of ways to find items, services, and everyday conveniences for extremely low prices or even for free in many cases. Start with the suggestions in this guide and you’ll be on the right track:

Consider Weekly Installment Loans to Get Out of a Rut

Taking out a loan is never what you would want to plan for if you had the choice, but sadly, many budgeting families run into emergency funding needs that don’t give them much of a choice at all. If you find yourself in a situation where borrowing or raising money becomes an unavoidable course of action, taking out a few small weekly installment loans for $3000 might be the only option you have left because you can get approved without a credit check.

Weekly installment loans let you pay back the loan amount in weekly installments with a fixed interest rate and a matching repayment amount every week. The terms of these payday loans are typically flexible, letting you choose repayment periods ranging from one week to a year. If you’re doing any kind of budgeting then it’s safe to assume that you have some sort of income that’s covering the expenses that you’re budgeting for. All you need to do to get approved for weekly installment loans is prove how much you make each week, and as long as the lender can verify that information, they won’t even need to run a hard inquiry on your credit.

Try Using a Budgeting Software

If you really want to get better at all of the skills and techniques involved in budgeting, try becoming an expert user of budgeting software. Taking a course on how to use budgeting software will have you immersed in all of the metrics, functions, and tactics that are used in the creation of a comprehensive and advanced budget.

Budgeting software also lets you digitalize your budget and then export it for analysis in programs like Microsoft Excel or Intuit Quickbooks. Sitting down and writing your budget down in a list manually can take a lot of time and is never as effective as the data input and sorting tools that are available in a standard budgeting app.

Obtain the Key Comforts and Luxuries First

There are certain one-time or once-in-a-while purchases that can add a lot of value to your home and provide your family with countless hours of enjoyment or comfort. For example, a furniture set or a large television. Many low-income families have to exercise some of the other tips on this list to afford a few nice things per year, but over the span of 3-4 years, it adds up to a whole house full of nice things.

When you can walk into your own home and feel proud of your environment, and you can comfortably have guests come over for family celebrations, it’s easy to feel like you’ve already made it in life to a degree. This step really is just about establishing that peace of mind that allows you to spend as though you’re not struggling. The mentality you’re trying to reach is: “you have everything you need, so now it’s time to go after the things you want.”

Download a Time Management App

The old saying “time is money” is absolutely true, so managing your time is really the equivalent to managing your money. Time management apps can help budgeting families get more out of their free time to make better financial decisions and find deals that they would’ve otherwise overlooked. Likewise, if you’ve been trying to find the time to study or devote to a business idea that you have, freeing up an extra hour of your day can make a huge difference in the long-term.

Time management apps also force you to start thinking like you’re already rich and responsible. Entrepreneurs and CEOs have extremely structured and scheduled days because they hold themselves to an absurdly high level of accountability. Some even work in five or 10-minute time slots to ensure they’re not slacking or losing focus on the task at hand. Ultimately, when you learn how to allocate your time, you’re also learning how to allocate your money – the funds that you haven’t even made yet but will in the near future through the discipline derived from proficient time management.

Buy Clothing, Furniture, and Electronics Gently Used

Insisting on only buying brand new products when you’re sustaining a family on a budget isn’t the most practical approach unless you want to wind up owning one-tenth of what you would own if you had shopped through classified sites and social media groups. You can even find bundles of free or low-cost clothes that look brand new because the previous owners took good care of them.

Simply making the commitment to never buy new items can have a tremendous impact on your yearly savings to the tune of thousands of dollars. Plus, some of the deals you can find by purchasing used items are so good that you can profit by reselling them to other people in your community or online through an auction site like eBay.

Practice Meal Planning

Meal planning might just be the biggest budgeting breakthrough that any low-income family can utilize. A family of four can easily blow through $500 per week in food if they eat at restaurants and drive-throughs frequently. On the other hand, that same family of four could also get all of their nutrition for just $100-$150 per week with the right shopping and meal planning techniques. Most of this frugal process just comes down to cooking at home almost exclusively and making meals that involve cheap but filling and nutritious components.

Examples of meal planning essentials include rice, beans, oatmeal, cereal, eggs, potatoes, fish, beef, chicken, and frozen fruits and vegetables. With a good variety of seasonings and a few bags of each of those ingredients, your family can eat great for the entire week and spend no more than $30 to $40 per person, per week on food.

Take a Course on Budgeting

Taking an online course on budgeting and family finances can help you learn about the advanced concepts that could help you finally escape the paycheck to paycheck cycle you’ve been stuck in. If you think about it, you owe it to your loved ones to learn as much as you can about budgeting if you’re currently considered a low-income family.

You don’t necessarily need to be wealthy to have everything your family needs to be happy, and budgeting will at least get you that far. If you properly invest some of the money that you saved by budgeting, you could wind up venturing into business finances and entrepreneurship.

Start Working Towards a Career Upgrade

If you’ve tried every budgeting trick in the book but you’re still struggling to get by, it might just be time to start looking for a new job or career path. People with huge budgets don’t think about budgeting nearly as much, so doubling your income is one quick way you can skim past all of the other advice in this guide in the near future.

You’ll still need to practice solid budgeting in the meantime, but by enrolling in an online degree program or taking some other step that will benefit your career in the long run, you’ll be initiating the process of never having to worry about strict budgeting again.

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Start the Credit Rebuilding Process

Even if you don’t wind up getting a much better job, you can still probably make your family’s life a bit easier and obtain a safety net by building your credit to the point where you can be approved for a few credit cards or lines of credit. The fastest and easiest way to get your credit score back on the rise is to invest in a few secured credit cards.

With secured credit cards, you don’t need good credit to be approved because you’ll be making a cash deposit that is equal to the credit line. In that sense, you’re really just borrowing your own money back from yourself through the card’s balance, but the goal is to repay it in full every month to keep positive items showing up on your credit report.

Try the strategies on this list and you’ll soon see how they impact your family’s finances in a positive way.