How to Budget When There Isn’t Enough Money To Go Around


How to Budget When There Isn’t Enough Money To Go Around


Budgeting when there isn’t enough money to pay everything is a real struggle for a lot of families. Whether it’s because of a job loss, medical bills, or too much debt, not having enough money to go around is a real stressor for many people.

I have written a general post on budgeting and how to stick to it. The principles are still the same but when there isn’t enough money to go around, I have found people don’t think there is a point to making a budget.

If you don’t have enough money to go around, you especially need a budget.

Step 1: Write it down

Just like any budget, you still have to write it down. The difference will be how you prioritize the budget. When you don’t have enough money or have an irregular income, you have to decide what will be paid first. So on paper it will be laid out a little different from if you have a set steady income stream.

When you write down your budget, you spend less because you can see where your money is going. When you have a tight budget, you should be following your budget more than anyone else.

Step 2: Prioritize Spending

Now, if you do have a steady set income, just not enough to pay everything, you still prioritize the month and prioritize each paycheck.

What I want you to do is make a list in order what needs to be paid first. It should look something like this:

Food, water, power, rent/mortgage, car insurance, car payment, other insurances, then non-priority things like, cell phone, credit card or loan payments, TV ect.

You should always pay for food first. There are many ways to save money on groceries even without coupons. For more ways to save on groceries, check out my post here. I shared how we cut our food budget in half.

Then you layout what will be paid out of each paycheck. I have found this works best for our family. I have a budget for each paycheck. This helps stay on budget for food and gas.

So, you have a general priority list and a priority list for each paycheck.

Step 3: Stick to the Budget

This should go without saying but writing it down and prioritizing the budget means nothing if you don’t actually follow it. I have heard people say things like “I don’t make any money anyway so what does a budget matter” and things like that.

A budget is simply telling your money where to go. If you don’t make enough you still have to tell what little you have where to go. This doesn’t change if you make a little or a lot.

You maybe thinking: This is all well and good Ashley but I don’t have enough to pay my bills, what should I do now? 

I’m still going to tell you to write a budget so that when money does come in, you know where it should go. If you don’t, it will go to things it shouldn’t. I know this from personal experience. Pay what you can, when you can. The rest can wait.

Second thing I will tell you is to try to find ways to make extra money. Whether that is selling anything and everything you possibly can in addition to looking for a new job. You may even need to look into government assistance or other assistance programs to help you temporarily.

Your long-term goal should always be to increase your income. That may mean going back to school, even community college, or taking a risk and starting a new job or your own business.

There are many ways to bring in some income, even as a stay at home mom. There are sites that pay for surveys and many other things. You just have to be careful that it’s not a scam. Things like reshipping products from home is a scam. Use some common sense and you should be fine.

You can even start a blog. Now starting a blog is not a get rich quick scheme by any means. You may not even make any money for months. It is a gamble just like starting any other business. However in the long run, if you run it like a business it could pay off. I know many bloggers that make a full-time income “just” blogging. It is a lot of work but once you get a good schedule going, it gets easier.

You can start a blog through BlueHost using my link and get hosting as low as $3.95/month.

You may even have to move in with family while you save and get on your feet. This can strain relationships but it can also be a blessing. It just depends on the family dynamic but it can help pay off debt, save, or just survive while you make a life transition.

For some quick ideas for paying off debt, check out my post here.

How to make a budget and stick to it

How to get your spouse on board with a budget

10 tips to Save On Groceries

5 Steps to Control Your Spending

Let me know what are some ways that you budget or save money when you feel like there isn’t enough money to go around.

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!

budgeting on low income



30 comments on “How to Budget When There Isn’t Enough Money To Go Around

  1. As a broke college student, this advice is crucial to me. Thanks for sharing your wonderful knowledge!

    Much love,
    Ashley |

  2. Great job! Definitely agree with getting priorities in order. Credit card payments / car notes should never come first, but rather the “four walls” more specifically, food and shelter when your finances aren’t quite in order.


  3. these are all great and fabulous tips. I need to get better and start following a lot of these. my weakness is food. as I love trying new things and whole foods.

  4. Very encouraging. Budgeting is hard but necessary. The cash system really makes a difference- if you don’t have it you can’t spend it

  5. Good tips. I am great at prioritizing. But no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to stick to a budget. That’s the hardest part for me.

  6. I still remember the days when I studied.. each month there was so many days still left of the month but no money haha. Nowadays I try to save every month (though sometimes I just take that saved money and spend it on fashion, jewellery and trips…).

    1. Food should be first because you need food to survive. Doesn’t mean you need to be eating steaks and shrimp but you should buy food first.

  7. Actually sticking to the budget is so important. My husband and I have great budget planning and communication, but inevitably we struggle to stick to it by the end of the month! We are in the process of paying off student loans right now too, and I will be heading over to your 5 Tips to Pay Off Debt post next…

  8. This is a great post. Last year we were getting shorted almost $500 a month on my husband’s pay and it took over a year to get it fixed. It was hard. We had to do a lot of what you mention here, among other things, in order to stay afloat. Your blog is really great! Thank you!

Leave a Reply