No one particularly wants to live on a tight budget, but there are times when we need to rein in our spending and pay better attention to where the money is going.
But, you can still live well on a tight budget. There are ways to live your best life while spending less.
Make a sensible budget and stick to it
If you’re looking to cut down on frivolous spending, we applaud you. Just make sure you’re budgeting correctly for your individual needs and lifestyle.
There is no one-size-fits-all budget. Look carefully at your expenses and see where you can make cuts. Check out this resource for plenty of tips on exactly how to write a budget that’s perfect for you. Then try it out for a month or two, and then adjust it as needed.
Once you have a sensible budget that works, stick to it until you have saved up enough to ease off the belt-tightening.
Give yourself a little room
Even though you’re cutting back on spending, you still will want a small amount of money in your budget to spend on something fun every month. Maybe that’s just $10 to buy a fancy coffee and a croissant, or $50 to splurge on a new pair of shoes. Whatever it is, stick to the amount.
But just like going on a diet, going on a tight budget shouldn’t be about total deprivation. You will burn out on that quickly and splurge unnecessarily.
Give yourself the financial equivalent of a cheat meal. It’ll make sticking to your budget easier if you know you have a reward coming.
Don’t change your lifestyle completely
Just because you’re spending less doesn’t mean you have to stay home and eat rice and beans every day. You can still go out on a tight budget; just be more mindful of your spending when you’re at a restaurant, bar, or movie theater (or wherever you like to go).
There are great suggestions here for differentiating between your wants and your needs in social situations. Basically, you can still join your friends out on the town, but don’t order expensive food or drinks.
Enjoy their company and keep your cash in your wallet.
Learn to cook
Go to the local library and check out a cookbook with recipes that look approachable and delicious. Cook from it for a week or two, return it to the library, and repeat.
You’ll save tons of money by simply cooking at home, and you might find yourself feeling healthier and happier too.
This is one of the easiest ways to save money and live a better life. Read Mark Bittman on the importance of cooking at home and be inspired.
Don’t hide your budget
It might feel embarrassing to tell your colleagues why you ordered water or got an appetizer instead of an entrée at a restaurant, but there’s no shame in being on a tight budget. Friends will understand and appreciate that you’re making time to be with them — even if you’re not matching their spending.
Being open about your budget will also make it less awkward when, for example, a friend invites you shopping, and you say, “Sure, but I’m not buying anything.” If they understand your situation, they won’t pressure you, and you can just have a good time while not spending over your budget.
The bottom line
It’s not hard to live well on a tight budget. Just design a budget that works for you, find ways to stick to it in social situations that could cost a lot of money, cook at home as much as possible, and be open about your budget.
A tight budget situation doesn’t last forever, hopefully, and soon enough you’ll be out of the hole and back on track.