The most important for surviving on a low income is establishing a budget.
1. Identify your monthly income; the actual money that you receive in your bank account each month.
2. Write down your monthly expenses. This includes rent, car payment, electricity bill, phone bill etc. Don’t forget to factor in an average gas/transportation and grocery expense for each month.
3. Determine your due dates for each of your bills. Are they all falling on the 30th of each month, or are they spread out equally throughout the month? Work with your bill collectors to identify due dates that will coincide with your monthly income deposits.
4. Call creditors and see if they can help lower your payments. Sometime financial hardships in a temporary problem and many creditors are able to lower monthly payments or allow you to postpone until you are able to pay.
5. Contact your bank to set up an appointment with a financial adviser. They can help you establish a budget if you need help.
The following are some simple and cheap solutions for staying within your budget.
1. Clip coupons
2. Cook at home; research recipes that are inexpensive and that can be frozen.
3. Walk or bike when you can. This can decrease your transportation expense.
4. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. Simple as that.
5. Sell your stuff. While a yard sale may be annoying to organize, you can end up making a few hundred dollars that can go toward your monthly expenses.
6. Put money in savings each month. Even if just $2, set money aside each month so that you can begin to start saving for those emergencies that may come up.
7. Research local churches or organization that may offer free meals during the week. Even one free meal will decrease your grocery cost for the week.
Outside of the monthly necessity, personal entertainment can account for a huge chunk of your monthly budget. While it’s not always feasible to give some of those luxuries up, give careful consideration on how much you are spending things like cigarettes, snacks at the convenience store, alcohol, clothes etc. It may be difficult, however talk to your family and friends about your need to decrease spending, and make them understand that you may need to cut back on gifts and dinners out for celebrations.