8 Steps to a better budget.

Trying to budget on a low income can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you live alone. But budgeting and successfully saving money is still a realistic goal. 

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Trying to budget on a low income can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you live alone. But budgeting and successfully saving money is still a realistic goal. 

There was a time in my life when I was lucky enough to say that my husband and I both had a combined income higher than average. It was wonderful not having to constantly worry about money. Better still, it allowed us to save for and purchase our first home. But shortly after moving, I became very ill and sadly had to leave my ‘dream job’. It was then that we had to sit down and sort our finances from a dual-earning household to a single one. 

The following advice is things we still carry forward today, even with us both earning. For health reasons I only work sixteen hours a week, with the rest of my time going into writing and illustrating. As any freelancer will tell you, some months it’s enough to cover the mortgage. Others, you’re scraping together the pennies. But budgeting successfully is still manageable even on a low income or on an unpredictable wage.

For more information on sticking to your budget, read more here.

Image from Kelly Sikkema

8 Tips to help you budget on a lower income.

Remember that every month is different. 

That means that although you may be earning the same each month, new challenges can arise. The car could need new tires or a tap could need fixing. Rainy Days are always just around the corner, and that means unexpected expenses. 

It’s a good idea to start putting money aside before issues arise. It can be as little as twenty pounds a week or month, so long as you tuck it away into a safety pot. If you find it difficult to afford to put the same away each month, you can adjust it slightly. Or you can put in more one month than the next. 

Put it into writing. 

Sit down and figure out where your money goes. That is your bare essentials, your luxuries, and everything in between. And be honest! There’s no point lying to yourself about the amount you spend if you want to be successful at budgeting. 

There are plenty of templates to follow online if you thrive on keeping things neat and organized. Otherwise, grab yourself a book, draw out some margins and start with your monthly rent. 

Monitor your cash flow. 

This is similar to the above but slightly different. You need to take the time to monitor where your money goes in more than just the monthly direct debits. Keep an eye on your day-to-day spending too. Keep hold of recipients, even the small ones such as a coffee or a packet of gum. 

Keep a folder, an old purse, or even a ziplock of all your old receipts. If you use any apps for shopping, remember to check back in your order history. There will always be places you forget to look for expenses, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not always accurate.

Budgeting for the whole family? Check out this post for some simple, family budget planning advice.

Set realistic goals. 

Don’t fool yourself. You’re not going to be able to save fifty percent of your income if sixty already goes on housing costs. Save what you can, but don’t leave yourself short for essentials. Sit down and create some SMART goals. That is that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. 

Build a plan that works for you. 

As is the theme with this entire post, your budget is specific to you. You can read all the budget blogs that you want, but not everything is going to apply. Instead, take bits from all of them, and combine them to suit your needs. Maybe you’re not saving for a home and instead, you’re after your first car? Great! Tailor your plan to suit. Don’t have monthly travel expenses, but pay for a better internet to work from home? Let’s work around it and make a suitable plan. 

Do you work from home? Maybe you’re planning on starting a side hustle? Great! Check out this post!

Be more mindful about what/where you spend. 

Do you really need that coffee from Starbucks in the morning? Wouldn’t it be better to get a travel mug and make your own at home? Every little bit adds up, so be smart. 

Find free or affordable forms of entertainment. 

Netflix and Disney + are amazing, I can’t lie. I have them both and often beat myself up about it. But before this there was Youtube,  borrowing DVD’s from friends and even,

dare I suggest it, streaming. You can also cut costs by going ‘halfers’ with friends or family on a streaming service of your choice. 

But don’t forget about entertainment outside screen time. There are plenty of other things you can do for fun that don’t cost a dime! Go for a walk and play Pokemon Go, take on a cost-effective hobby, or have a virtual coffee date with a mate. 

Comparison shop. 

Don’t just go with the first deal you come across. Always compare big purchases such as insurance deals and buying new technology. You don’t always have to go with the cheapest option if it doesn’t tick all the boxes. But there are some cheaper deals available with the same benefits as those from more expensive, well-known companies. 


Have you found any other ways to help you manage your budget?

31 comments

  1. These are awesome tips – we just purchased our first home a couple of months ago and budgeting has been a huge shift compared to when we were renting. I LOVE comparison shopping and it’s always great to save yourself even just a couple of dollars, each time that adds up over time to bigger savings.

  2. Ooh fab tips here! I think I really need to work on monitoring my cash flow as well as being more mindful with my spending, I tend to be a bit of an impulse buyer which can be quite the issue! Thanks for sharing x

  3. Putting it all in writing has saved me more times than I can remember. I highly encourage whoever is running a budget to write every single number and letter where money has made way to and fro.

  4. This post will help so many people. We’ve struggled financially for the last year due to over commiting and then reduced income due to COVID.

    I am just about to amend our money plan, following my redundancy and all these points are relevant to me right now.

    Thank you 👍

  5. I’m all about this. I also have a rule that I don’t buy anything big for 30 days after “wanting” it. Most times, after the days have passed, I don’t want it anymore and realize it was just an impulse.

  6. Great information and perfect timing for me! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend less and save more this year. Excellent tips!

  7. Great tips. I agree putting it into writing and being more mindful of your spending is so important. Being more mindful with my spending is something I am really going try and do this year.

  8. Budgeting has a vital role in everyone’s life. And monitoring cash flow is very essential and I guess it is the first step to plan our budget. You have mentioned great points.

  9. We have a lot of digital apps or planners when we can monitor our expenses but I still prefer pen and paper. These are great tips to have a better budget for 2022. I do a lot of them.

  10. I manage well my income and expenses. It’s always important to budget and to have a clear view of your personal finance and save more for the future. I think I consider all points mentioned by you. Thanks for sharing! Very useful tips.

  11. I can totally relate myself to this post. I used to spend lots of money every day for coffee and food since I would be more than 12 hour a day outside. Lockdown and work from home helped me realize exactly how much money I was wasting that way. Now, I always question whether I really need something.

  12. Comparison shopping is a great tip! Often I’m in a rush to get something, but if I plan better I can save a bit more with research.

  13. I am obsessed with budgeting, and I agree that writing the numbers down is important. And, we have found lots of free museums, parks, and events in our area. We always have a good time without breaking the bank.

  14. These are all great tips! I never budgeted but I really should start, mostly because I tend to have those small shops or run at the shop that adds up at the end of the month, so these will be helpful to star off x

  15. Love these tips! I try to write down everything I spend and also colour code it to say whether it was a worthwhile purchase or not x

  16. Some great tips! I always try to be monitor where my money goes so I can see what habits I need to work on. Also, if I ever want to buy something online I leave it in my basket for 24-48 hours and if I’m still thinking about those items then I know it’s not just an impulse purchase.

    Tash x

  17. These are amazing tips. We set up a budget plan for this year. Our goal is to buy a bigger home by end of year. Will be following some
    Of these tips.

  18. Thank you for sharing, I think setting realistic goals is so important- you don’t need to be overly-ambitious to still budget well x

  19. These are really great tips! My husband and I have a budget plan. We would like to retire a lot earlier than “normal” so, it’s important for us to not spend money on things that won’t get us to our goal.

    Maureen |

  20. Some great tips! I don’t budget much partially because I’m really quite lazy about it. I’d rather just get the thing done or get the thing bought. But I need to start thinking about it a bit more now so these are a great place to start x

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