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Being on a low income can be frustrating and leave you feeling insecure. You might be worried about paying the rent each month, or coping with a medical bill – we’ve all been there. And the best thing you can do (apart from looking for ways to increase your income) is to check out budgeting tips for low-income families online. 

We know that these are the issues of the common man, so we’ve put an effort to find ways to increase your budget and lower your worries. Most of the tips below are practical and can be implemented right away. You’ve got nothing to lose, but you can gain more financially healthy habits. So, give it a read and try.

1. Determine the budget at your disposal

You can’t manage your budget properly if you don’t know how much the budget is. So, let’s begin with the foundation here, don’t worry, we’ll guide you.

Grab a pen and paper (or your laptop) and write down your monthly income, and add all the extra money you get (if any) as well. Make sure you list down all the ways you’re getting paid as it impacts the budget plan you’re about to make. Do you receive child support, a stipend, or have some passive source of income? Write it all down.

The reason you’re listing your entire income is to have a clear idea of how much money you’re able to spend and stay on your budget.


2. Start tracking your expenses

You need to be aware of where your money goes each month, so you can be in control of your cash flow. A lot of times we spend money on all sorts of things that are draining our budget but are so minor we don’t even count them in. This has to change.

It’s best to take bank statements for previous months and check your spending accurately. Set aside your fixed and primary expenses such as a mortgage, rent, bills, and other necessities. Shopping for food and clothes, subscriptions, eating, and drinking out, should all go to a separate basket. It would be useful to save your receipts for a month at least so you can check for things you’re paying with cash.

3. Prioritize your spending

You might still feel insecure about making a budget plan and sticking to it, however, having a spending plan will help you stay on track each month. A lot of budgeting tips for low-income families begin with this one for a reason.

To avoid mindless buying and end-of-the-month cash crises, you need to make a list of things that are your top priority. And always set aside money for those things first. These include all the vital expenses such as medical bills, insurance, rent, bills, installments, and other things. And this is where the money goes first from your budget. There’s no bargaining here.

After you pay your priorities, you can distribute a portion of the money you’re left for other things. These can be groceries, clothes, and small pleasures to keep you from giving up your savings plan. We said a portion of that money, not everything that’s left. 


4. Cut down on unnecessary expenses

A rule of thumb here is to think twice before you purchase something. Do you really need a streaming service subscription, everything from that food cart, or a manicure every two weeks? You’re going to be just fine with a lower-priced cell phone plan unless you really need those minutes for work.

We’re not saying you should never go to a saloon or have a coffee with your friend downtown, just don’t make it a habit. Spend your money mindfully, and treat yourself from time to time when there is (realistically) room for that. Keeping a track of your budget will help you with this.

5. Prepare your meals at home

Preparing meals at home is one of our budgeting tips for low-income families that will make a difference immediately. Buying, and preparing food in advance and freezing it means you’ll make fewer trips to local restaurants and save a lot of cash. And yes, it’s possible to save money on groceries and still eat well.

According to this website, restaurants charge nearly 300% more for meals. This means that the food you pay for $15 at the restaurant can be made for $5 at home. Add a glass of juice or a cake to it and look how the bill skyrockets, especially if there’s more than one of you in the household. Think about it.

6. Complete price analysis before shopping

You’d be surprised how the price for the same item can vary depending on the store. If you wish to save more money on clothes, or groceries, make sure to complete a price analysis at home first. 


Go through a couple of websites and check the price for the items you want to buy. There are even websites specialized in price comparison across different stores. Don’t be lazy, track those websites and take some time in the day to find the best deals in your town.

A pink piggy bank and coins around it.

7. Set aside an emergency fund

Having your list of budget priorities is essential, however, life happens. Your payment priorities can switch up in an instant due to unexpected events that are, ironically, expected to happen in life. You have a toothache, a flat tire, or your stove got broken, you name it. That’s where your emergency fund comes in so you can stay out of debt and distribute your budget as usual.

It’s best to set aside 20% of your income each month to your emergency fund if possible. If not, try to pinch in a few bucks every week and set them aside. Do not touch this money unless honestly needed. This might be one of the most important budgeting tips for low-income families you should start applying as of today,

8. Sell items you’re no longer using

A great way to earn money easily is to sell all those items that are collecting dust in your apartment. It will help you declutter your space and earn extra money.

Here is a list of ideas for items you can sell:

  • Unused (and unwanted) gifts
  • Sports equipment
  • Second-hand books
  • Clothes you’re not wearing
  • Jewelry
  • Old appliances
  • Computer equipment

9. Shop smart

In the spirit of being mindful of your spending, there are a few tricks you can use when shopping. You can check out local newspapers, websites, or store flyers for coupons. Also, you can check online websites with great offers and discounts that can save you a lot of money when shopping.

There are some directions on saving money while grocery shopping without coupons that you can find here. These budgeting tips for low-income families should not be skipped if you want to make the most out of money management.

10. Find free ways to entertain yourself

Going to movies is fun, and the popcorn there tastes 10 times better – we know. But, your wallet might disagree. And the same goes for many other paid fun activities that are usually overcharged. However, at least until you start earning more money, you should give an effort and find alternative and free ways to have fun for $0.

We suggest throwing a movie night at your house or inviting friends for a game night at your place. You can also check for local free events or concerts, read a book, or just go for a walk to that park you’ve been postponing for a while.

11. Control your electricity spending

There are a few practical ways to save electricity and lower your bills.


You can switch to low-energy light bulbs, and take shorter and a bit colder showers. Also, unplug all of your devices when they’re not in use and turn the (unnecessary) lights off. Try washing your clothes at lower temperatures and wait for the clothes to pile up. You must be consistent with these changes if you wish to see the bill go down.

12. Increase your income

Depending on the time you have available, you can increase your income online. You can do so with a part-time job, a freelancing gig, or by completing paid online surveys.

If you’ve got a bit more time at your disposal, you can find a part-time job or a freelancing one and earn more cash. However, if you’re running short on time and basically want to make money on the go, we suggest you sign up for free and start doing paid surveys. You won’t earn a fortune, but you will increase your income with little effort.

Final thoughts

On top of these 12 budgeting tips for low-income families that we’ve listed, we suggest you read these creative ways to save money fast in 2023 as well. We know that budgeting is not always fun and sometimes feels limiting. But, you can make some budget improvements from the list, and look for ways to increase your income. This will help lift your spirit and lower stress.