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How To Balance Your Budget Like a Pro

Living on a minimum budget can be very tricky when you live on disability benefits. The amount people get varies a lot per person. It all depends on the length and amount of contributions. It also depends on how much that person made a month when he/she was employed.

Either way, whether it’s a big budget or a smaller budget there are things you can do to make your expenses fit in that budget. You may find that you will need to cut some extras here and there. Some may not be what you want to hear. Fair warning!

Keeping a budget when it barely covers the basics can be a challenge

The first time people sit down to do their budget after getting their first benefit can be heartbreaking at times. It may reveal that you cannot afford that old lifestyle anymore. Or that nice house you worked so hard to get. I hate that part of my job.

But I once was a bankruptcy attorney and it was not uncommon for me to deliver these types of bad news. It was never fun. It will never be fun. But the reality is this:

Things change. Very often. Let’s try to make the best of it: “Roof over your head, food on the table, a warm bed to sleep in”.

You may be thinking: “easy for you to say sitting there on your cushy job“. Yes….and no.

budget planning

I was not born and raised in a cushy setting. We never starved but it was tight. I’m the oldest of 5 kids. Anyone who has more than one kid knows: Imagine 5! So I learned very early how to budget. And even now that things are a little more stable financially I still follow the same basic budget rules we lived by.

Those budget rules are:

  1. Don’t buy any big ticket items unless you really REALLY need it!

Does the old TV or car work? Is the couch old but still firm? If it’s not permanently broken, you don’t need a new one! If you got tired of the item find ways to exchange, barter, upcycle, recycle, remodel.

I still own my 13-year-old couch! It’s firm and the frame is still good. When the fabric got a little tired-looking a few years ago, I had it washed.  Then I made a slip cover for it (paid $150 in fabric) and voila! “New” couch with bragging rights! I just saw a similar couch like mine with a similar slip cover worth $8000! Who doesn’t like a bargain!?

I’m not saying my couch is worth that much. But it goes to show how much money we waste just because we want something new. And if you have the money, by all means, buy it!! But we are talking about creative ways to live on a tight budget.  And I want to show you that it can be done!

2. If you don’t have the money to pay cash: Don’t buy it!

Unless you are planning to pay off that card at the end of the month!

Credit cards are for “super” emergencies only (eg. Someone died and you need to fly somewhere last minute and you didn’t get paid your salary yet). Credit cards should also facilitate your life (buy things online or rental reservations) but it doesn’t mean it’s for splurges or “I-will-buy-today-and-pay-someday” expenses.

living on a budget

No! That’s how things get out of control. You buy today with your card, you pay off that bill when it comes!

Use it, pay it off! Use it, pay it off!

This is major: By not spending on “unneeded extras” you don’t increase that credit card balance! It’s that simple!

By following this simple rule, you will be able to bring that balance down within your budget, even if you had a big last-minute expense. You can even start paying down your old cards by following this rule too. By not using the card, your balance will only increase by that interest rate but not by an unnecessary expense (I see another post about that coming soon!).

Old habits die hard

The reason I follow these rules is because I was brought up with a very budget-conscious mother. She made it possible to pay all the bills despite a tight budget. She was still able to find money here and there for a new outfit for the kids every 3 months or so. And as an adult, I still remember looking under the couch to find coins for the bus fare to go to school. But I managed and still found ways to go to school and graduate.

I know my story may not be so important but I want to express that I know your struggle.

That’s why I want you to make it! And I want you to know that it is possible to live on a tight budget.

While I have been lucky so far, things can change for me too. Just like it did with you. I know it doesn’t solve your budget problem here. But here is something important:

Life is full of ups and downs

I still remember when my father was “downsized” a couple of times during my childhood and teenage years. I was completely broke during law school. And the first few years after I moved back to the U.S. were pretty tight. The only reason I survived was because of my budgeting skills I learned early on.

So I have been there and know how hard it is!

If you are not prepared, life can kick your butt in ways never imagined

That’s why I want to prepare you for this. And if you are already on a tight budget (on benefits) let’s find a way you can live comfortably (the best way we can, of course).

Now, this budget will bring certain realities to light. Some not as happy as you and I would like. But at least you will now what the reality is. From there you will be able to make informed decisions on what to do next. You may need to sell some extra things, downsize your home, downsize expenses, etc.

I wrote an article on my sister site  (←click link here or the image below) regarding budgeting without starving and I decided to link it to this blog so you can take advantage of that information. I want you to click on that link and read that entire post.

How to Create a Budget and Maintain it without Starving

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure this blog is available to help you in your claim journey

Oh! That post also contains a cheat sheet you can print and use to create your own budget. Who doesn’t love freebies!?

Also feel free to check that entire site (amigas4all.com) too since it has things like DIY projects for around the house, easy to do remodeling tips and thrifty ideas so you can live within your budget and still have “new” things. Do it now and tell me all about it!  

Downsizing

If you wish to start the process of downsizing, I have a great friend who writes about minimalist living. She talks about how to downsize and how to live within your means. Check her latest post where you actually get a free ebook to get started downsizing.

There are also many books out there about budgeting. It’s worth taking a look. Below see my picks:


Now that you have the tools to start budgeting and living within your means, let me know how things changed once you got into a new budget routine.

Please share this post with anyone you think could benefit from it.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email updates (below) to get valuable information for your claim. You can also follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for the lasted news and posts.

Let me know if you have any questions

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7 comments

  1. Tracie says:

    These are excellent tips for any budget. I tell my family all the time, live within your means that way if something happens, you won’t be left with no recourse. Great article!

    • Tatiana says:

      Thank you! We have to start them early because things can get ugly when they reach college and never knew how to save. Glad you liked the post!

  2. Vicki says:

    Budgeting can be tough at any income level, but especially when you have a fixed income without the ability to earn more. The greatest budget trick I ever learned was mastering the art of meal planning. I recently read a statistic that 40% of the food we buy goes to waste. I hope I’m not that bad, but it was an eye-opener!

    • Tatiana says:

      So true! I myself try to be careful when shopping for food so I don’t end up having to throw food away. The one trick I use is to never go grocery shopping while hungry. It never ends up well. After dinner is the best time, plus less people at the store.

  3. Fantastic post, with genuinely good information. Neither my husband nor I are disabled, but we also live with a cash economy. Thanks very much for the info; I’ll be sure to share!

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