More and more people are finding that they are having to budget just to make ends meet as job losses or wage cuts, coupled with a higher cost of living, mean that many are having to make less money go further.
This often means that corners will need to be cut and sacrifices made in certain areas, but this is something that has always been a fact of life for those families that have to survive on a low income.
So how do you budget for life on a low income?
Coming up are five budgeting tips that should see you successfully getting by on a low income without making too many sacrifices to your standard of living.
Eating and Drinking
Although this may have a direct impact on your standard of living you should try to cut down on the amount of times you eat out or the amount of takeout you eat.
Home cooked food is not only a lot cheaper it is often a lot healthier so use the money you would usually spend on takeout or dining out to plan better meals at home.
And, if you feel that you don’t have the time to cook things from scratch, consider how long it takes to get ready and get everyone out the house when eating out, and then consider that most good meals can easily be made within half an hour.
In addition, try to drink water with your meals instead of sugary soft drinks or expensive fruit juices as this will be better for your budget and your family’s health.
When grocery shopping try to use coupons as these can make for great savings on your weekly shopping. In addition, try to take advantage of the numerous incentives, such as buy-one-get-one-free, that supermarkets offer.
However, it must be stressed that this becomes counterproductive if you use coupons or special offers on luxury items that you do not necessarily need and you should only take advantage of coupons or offers on those items that are part of your weekly essentials.
Another good tip is to buy any long life products, such as dried pasta and rice, in bulk as these items work out cheaper is bought in larger quantities.
Similarly, cleaning products and detergents are often cheaper when bought in bulk and, although this is a bigger initial outlay it will save money in the long run.
While buying cleaning products in bulk saves money, an even better way to save money is to avoid buying expensive detergents altogether and use more traditional cleaning products.
For example, using bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth can work just as well as many of the abrasive cleaning products on the market whilst a mixture of vinegar and water makes an excellent window and mirror cleaner.
Furthermore, by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to the vinegar and water mixture you can make yourself a very effective disinfectant.
Household energy bills are constantly on the rise as energy providers seem to be continually inflating their prices.
So it’s important to ensure that you are using your appliances efficiently.
For example, when washing clothes make sure that you put in a full wash every time and cold water wherever possible. Also try to line-dry any washed items instead of using an electric dryer.
In winter, it is tempting to crank up the thermostat to keep your home warm but try to keep the setting at around 68 degrees. It’s a comfortable temperature for most people and it won’t add an unnecessary amount to the energy bills. If things do get a little chilly then try to wear an extra layer of clothing or put another blanket on the bed.
When cooking try to fill the oven, not necessarily with food but with baking trays and pans as this will make it a much smaller space to heat and the oven will reach the desired temperature a lot quicker.
Also, try to use energy saving light bulbs and switch off appliances at the wall when not in use as they still use energy when placed on standby.
When living on a limited budget it can be difficult to find the money to go out to the movies or even for drinks with friends.
So try and arrange nights in with friends, either for a few drinks or to watch a movie. This way everyone can share the cost of entertaining for the evening and it will be a lot cheaper than going out.
There are also a number of other ways that you can save money in other areas of your life, such as shopping at thrift stores for clothes, books, DVDs etc, or using auction sites or sites such as Freecycle to pick up bigger items such as furniture or televisions.
Although you will need to budget when living on a low income, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your lifestyle has to suffer dramatically.
Author Bio: Robert Fox is a freelance writer, author, and editor for money-fox.com, a personal finance blog which aims to save people money.