Hey friends! Let’s talk about money. Does money make anyone uncomfortable? It doesn’t make me uncomfortable so I am gonna spill the beans on my best tips for when you just don’t got a lot of green to go around. If you have been following along for a while you know that my husband is in school. Maybe you also know he has actually been in school most of our marriage. He went from his undergrad, straight to his masters, then lectured a couple of years, and is now pursing his PhD. During his school endeavors I decided to leave my full time job as a recreation therapist and pursue owning an Etsy shop and now a blog so that I could stay home with our daughter. I absolutely love what I do but I don’t have the ability yet to make an amazing income doing it with the time I have to invest in it. This is hopefully just for a chapter (let’s be honest it feels like a really freaking long chapter). It will get better after my husband is finished with his PhD and less tight budget days will be ahead. But right now and for the past few years we have been on a SUPER tight budget. It has been hard and it still is hard but we have been able to accept it and mostly thrive with it and guess what, we have ZERO debt. Can I get a hallelujah anyone?!
Here are my 10 best tips for how we live within our means on a shoestring budget.
1. Minimalize extras
This is a big one y’all. We live in a culture where it is so easy to get anything. You want a new vacuum? Boom, Amazon will get you one in 2 days. You want sushi delivered to your house in 30 minutes? Boom, Postmates will have it to ya asap. Don’t want to drag your toddler to the grocery store for the 3 things you forgot. What’s that? Boom! Instacart at your service. Need that new shirt that is oh so cute? Target to the rescue. Drive through coffee because you don’t feel like making it yourself? Thank you Starbucks, take my $7 dollars for a simple cup of jo. Ok, you get it right? We live in a spend spend spend society because we want our lives to be easier and things to be more convenient. That’s really nice if you can afford all of that but when you can’t be spending that kind of money on little things that add up..DON’T! You have got to minimalize the extra expenditures and learn to say no. You can say yes every now and then, but mostly, learn to say no to those extra things you really don’t need.
2. No TV
We don’t own a TV. That saves us money in that we never had to buy a TV in the first place or pay anyone to hook it up. We don’t have to pay for cable. That right there saves a ton of money. Our laptop and ipad, and my phone totally do that job of a TV for us. Because my husband is a student we get HULU and Spotify for only $5.99 a month. And I’ve got to shout out to my amazing college roomie who still lets me use her Netflix, thanks my girl. You rock!
3. Share a car
Maybe this sounds impossible to you because life is busy and crazy but guess what- we have lived in 2 big cities together and now a small town and we have made owning only 1 car work for us for 5 years. And yes, we have a kid now and it still works. It is inconvenient sometimes for sure but it is worth it to save on the giant expense of owning a second car and maintaining a second car. My husband utilized public transportation when we lived in San Antonio and that was super affordable and last year in Denton and now in the little town we live in he rides his bike or walks or we play it by ear and I arrange days where he can have the car or I can give him rides. Like I said, it isn’t always convenient but haven’t a tight budget isn’t really convenient either so you have to be willing to do hard things to stay afloat.
4. Be on top of your food budget
I wrote a whole blog post about eating well on a shoestring budget. Head to the post to read it, there are some really great tips that people have shared with me they have started using. Moral of the story-you can eat well on a tiny budget, it just takes some more thought into your meal planning each week.
5. Budget meetings
My husband and I sit down every month or so and review together what we spent the previous month. How did we do well, do we need to tighten up in some areas? Did I drive through to get coffee more than I should have? All of those things. It is so important to be acutely aware, without stressing or obsessing, of your money and how you are spending it when you don’t have a lot of it.
6. Side hustle
Hustle baby, hustle. That is why I started my Etsy shop, I needed to bring in some extra cash each month. It was a low cost start up that I was able to see a profit from immediately. Other ideas of side hustles could be just selling things you don’t need or use on Facebook or having a garage sale. There are so many articles online that give some really great side hustle ideas that anyone could do. Get to googling, my friend!
7. Thrifting and Facebook marketplace
Without trying to sound arrogant, I feel like I have nice taste in things…Home décor, food, date ideas, clothes, etc. It’s hard when I have that taste but not the money to spend on it. Well thank goodness for thrift stores and facebook marketplace because I have been able to find some really cute stuff that I couldn’t have afforded new in the store. For instance, our dining room table was $260 new at Target, I found the same table at a thrift store for SIXTEEN DOLLARS. Yes, you read that right, $16. I still can’t shut up about it.
8. Accept help when offered
This can be really hard for people. It is embarrassing sometimes when you are an adult and have a family but have a hard time making ends meet. My husband is actively pursuing getting us out of having such a strict budget but it takes time. Our friends and family have been so thoughtful to us and sometimes it is hard to accept their help but it would be silly of us not to accept it. For instance we haven’t bought diapers in a year and a half. My old college roommates gifted us with a year of diapers for our daughter’s first birthday (amazing, I know!) and my parents picked it up when she turned two. It has been a huge blessing. I am sure no matter what your situation is there are people in your corner wanting to help in little or big ways.
9. Sometimes you have to put certain dreams on hold
Being on a tight budget is restricting but it doesn’t have to be forever. We have so many hopes and dreams and things that we want to do one day that we just can’t afford to do right now and that is ok. We are working hard to have better paying jobs once my husband is done with school. This is just a season. One day we will be able to afford to travel and see the world. One day we will be able to afford to start that non-profit that we dream about. One day we be able to go out and enjoy an amazing meal without choosing if we want to spend the extra money on a glass of wine or an appetizer, we will be able to afford both! We aren’t saying no to our dreams forever, just postponing them for now.
10. Focus on what you can do with your money vs what you can’t do
Lastly, it can be disheartening to see other’s living their dream lives when you feel like you are just living in the dust behind them. But I challenge you to stop focusing on what you don’t have and instead what you do have. I see my friends traveling around the world and I definitely feel jealous sometimes but then I look around and see how hard my husband is working in school, I see us making it work each month without going into debt and it has helped us really develop resiliency. It isn’t much but we still tithe and donate money to a couple of organizations that are important to us. We can still feed ourselves, shelter ourselves, dress ourselves, and enjoy ourselves everyday even on our little budget. I am really proud of us and thankful for all the things that living on a small budget has taught me. I really hope these things help you if you are in a similar situation.
Ta-ta for now my friends!