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Budgeting With Nothing

If you have little or no money in savings, you can benefit from budgeting your income to see why you are falling short. Failing to budget your money effectively can quickly lead to extensive debt.

Take the initiative to live on a budget by gathering information on paying off bills and credit cards at, a great resource for your financial needs. Figuring out how to live on a budget without a financial cushion is especially important if you have a family to support. Certain strategies can help you to begin budgeting money quickly while also thinking ahead to the future.

This article should serve as a kind of checklist with actionable points – you could check each one off once you’ve implemented it or made it a regular part of your life!

Short-Term Solutions

The following ideas can immediately set you on the right path toward managing your money. When beginning to plan your family budget, try these techniques so that you can see positive changes promptly.

  • Negotiate any late bill payments with utility companies, telephone and cable companies and lenders. Determine a reasonable plan for paying what you can afford until the bills are caught up.
  • Talk with credit card companies to see if you can get a lower interest rate on any cards that you use regularly. Even small reductions in interest can decrease monthly spending and improve your budget.Increase your income by taking on additional work. This may involve a single-income family becoming a dual-income family, or a person who works one job adding on a second job.
  • Set a budget for food and home supply purchases and use coupons and rebate offers when possible. Buy only what is necessary for your family and substitute name brands for generic equivalents.
  • Sell household items that you no longer use in a garage sale or through an online store. The extra money can pad out your family budget when you have no savings on hand.
  • Cut out frivolous spending by trading restaurant meals for home cooking, store-bought espresso drinks for home-brewed coffee and movie theater trips for rented films. Set weekly allowance limits for children.
  • Hold off on saving money until you can comfortably afford to do so. If you need to put every penny earned toward your budget to keep your family out of debt, do not feel guilty for sacrificing savings.

Long-Term Solutions

Once you have implemented some short-term budgeting strategies, you and your family can start planning ways to remain frugal in the coming months and years. The results of these strategies are gradual in nature, yet still worthwhile.

  • Prepare a weekly or monthly budget plan for your family, using financial software to record your transactions and set your spending limits. Putting long-range budget plans in electronic form can motivate you to stick with responsible habits.
  • Make small changes within your home that can cost you less in the long run. Seemingly minor adjustments such as swapping regular light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs can improve your budget over time.
  • Stay on track toward a stable financial future by sticking to your budget as closely as possible. If additional money becomes available at some point, put it in savings and continue with your plan.
  • Adjust your budget accordingly if you find that your current plan is not as effective as it could be. Analyze your expenditures regularly to determine which, if any, changes can be made.

About the Author

Louise has been writing for financial websites like MoneySupermarket for almost 5 years and particularly enjoys the areas of household budgeting and frugal family living. A mom to an almost-3 year old girl, Louise also runs her wrestler husband’s website and occasionally does freelance copywriting and web design.

Heidi J. Sisco

Friday 11th of May 2012

Thanks for this. I have been keeping my family on a budget for the past few years and we've been able to pay off a lot of debt because of it. You had some suggestions that I hadn't thought of before. Your article was great. Thank you!


Wednesday 25th of April 2012

I've had good luck selling some items (especially larger items) on Craig's List.  It's totally free to list items and you can follow the advice of experts to make sure you are smart and safe in your sales.

Char W

Friday 6th of April 2012

Those are all great ideas especially for the short term.  The way it is laid out makes it seem reasonable and not so daunting.  Getting even a small decrease in interest rate will make a difference over the long run, that's for sure.  Buying what is needed is another way to decrease spending.  I need to get DH on board with that.  He has a budget for himself but then comes to me for money... but when he needs gas in his truck, how can I so since he needs to get to work...


Sunday 18th of March 2012

I procrastinate too much. And I'm sort of a perfectionist about methods. So I end up putting things off until I can do them "right" and end up not doing them at all or at the last minute. And one thing I really need to do is sit down and go through my necessary monthly expenses and make a payment schedule. Thanks for the reminder.


Thursday 15th of March 2012

Great ideas thank you!

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