Five Quick Tips for Tight Budgets

Written by: Bob Cook, Senior Consumer Credit Counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma (


I started learning how to manage money early in my life. My dad had his own business and if we were out of school we went to work with him from the age of 7. We were paid $1.00 a day and given lunch, then when we got paid we would have to put half of the money in our savings account.  Every once in a while we would go partners on a cow with dad and we would have to do the math on profit and loss and split that with Dad.

Having these lessons early on helped me learn to manage money carefully. I learned planning and seeing the results of hard work. Most of us just get by pay check to pay check, but trying to plan ahead will help you to have more peace of mind, reduce stress and make your life work better overall even on a tight budget.

Here are 5 quick tips to help get the most out of tight budget:


1)      Use a calendar to plot out your month and year. Mark down your paydays and how much income you should receive. Mark down bills and when they are due. Then mark down your periodic expenses (insurance, oil changes, kids’ school clothes and supplies, and Christmas, birthdays, etc.) and estimates of what they will cost. You can then use the calendar to plan out what bills to pay from each paycheck and use the periodic expenses to plan for savings so that you have fewer unexpected emergency expenses.

2)      Pay yourself first and try to have enough slack in your budget to put some savings into your plan.  Start small, maybe $20 a payday, and try to increase the amount as you get more control of your money.  You want to try to build emergency fund of 3 months of living expenses.

3)      Using your calendar and try tracking your living expenses. Write down what you spend in each category like gas, groceries, eating out and use the expenses to see where you can make any cuts.

Click here to view great forms and budget builders from

And now some more creative ideas:


4)      Come up with a way to increase income. Do you have some items you could sell? My wife has been selling on eBay and it is surprising what people will need to buy. She has been selling old sewing patterns and I have started selling old tools I pick up cheap at garage sales. I have thought to myself, “Who would think someone would want that?” Chances are, someone will, so I would bet there is something you could sell. With the recent storms in Oklahoma, I have been cutting up the downed limbs around the neighborhood for some extra money.  Do you have a skill or service you could make some money with?

5)      Try a week without spending any money at all! Make a family challenge to go for a week without spending any money just to see what your family can do for low and no costs use the groceries you already have for meals, no eating out, do free things with the family walks, parks, library play a game with the kids etc.  You may find its more fun to spend time instead of money with those you love.

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