Living on a Tight Budget by: Lois Breit
There are many ways to live a happy and productive life on a tight budget. It’s all about attitude, discipline and common sense. I’d like to share with you a few suggestions on how to stretch your paycheck.
Begin by knowing how much money you have to spend each pay period and where you’re spending your money.
Create a simple budget on excel, or a piece of paper if you cannot afford a computer financial program. List all fixed monthly expenses (rent, utilities, childcare), add quarterly payments (insurance, taxes), and finally general expenses such as food, gas, haircuts, clothing, special fees for school activities, etc. Now list all known monthly income. Since expenses cannot exceed income, you’ll quickly see where to make adjustments.
Living in the debit card age has its benefits, but also its challenges. It’s easy to swipe a card and not keep a tally on how much you have spent. Spending a little extra on groceries, household or personal items can quickly put you over-budget. To avoid excess purchases, check your bank balance on-line daily.
You can’t change your fixed expenses, but there are things you can do to control your other expenses. Here are some suggestions to help stay within your budget and stretch your paycheck.
When grocery shopping: know the maximum amount you can spend BEFORE you walk into the store, use a calculator to keep from over spending (fun job for older children), avoid shopping when hungry and impulse buying, plan your meals ahead of time, make a grocery list and stick to it, and cut out junk foods. Crock pot cooking tenderizes cheaper cuts of meat and helps you make easy healthy meals. Stretching your paycheck means home cooked meals instead of frozen, fast food, or prepared meals, which are costly and unhealthy. Coupons are not always a bargain; if multiple purchases are required that can put you over your budget.
Clothing does not and should not be based on a designer name, but on your budget. This is an opportunity to teach our children realistic and practical spending habits, and contentment without indulgence. Only shop yard sales for specific needed items, walk away from the unnecessary; try re-sale shops (consignment) shops; and Craig’s List for larger household items.
Saving a little from each check, even $10, will add up for unexpected car or household emergencies. Planning ahead is a big part of stretching your paycheck.
Tithing is a biblical principal that will never make sense, but constantly shows the faithfulness of God’s promise for provision. Try tithing; see how this Godly principle works.
It takes even more discipline if using cash for your spending and bill payments. Immediately upon cashing your check, place cash into envelopes labeled for each expense.
God’s Word gives us hope and help as we seek wisdom in our financial choices and lifestyles.
Proverbs 14:23 – All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 17:16 – Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?
I Timothy 5:8 – If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Proverbs 10:4 – Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Titus 3:14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good……