All About Budgets | From the Readers

Budgeting Tips For Low-Income Families

budgeting tips low-income

Budgets Do Not Discriminate Which Means They Are For Everyone

Just recently I had an email sent to me from a fan looking for tips on low-income budgeting for people who struggle financially.

There are lots of people in the same boat so I hope I can offer some budgeting tips that will help motivate those people who want to give up before you begin.

This is one of those touchy topics so please bear with me as I realize many people are struggling through tough times.

Debt is debt, money is money, a budget is a budget.

I know financial situations are unique and I can’t possibly targe them all however with some work a budget can work for anyone.

Low-Income Budgeting Help

Dear Mr. CBB,

I’ve been reading your blog for a while as I was searching for some family budget information and a sample family budget so I can start budgeting.

We come from a low-income Canadian family which we feel is at the poverty level in Ontario.  

I grew up living in poverty but poverty today seems much more difficult as an adult than when I was a child living with my family.

We rent an apartment since we can’t afford to own a home as our credit is not good enough and we don’t have the money for a down-payment.

We have a low-income for a family of 3 which includes our son who is 6 years old.

I work part-time as I struggle to find work as I need more skills and my husband works full-time in a retail capacity.

He also has no further education after grade 12.

We take the bus to work since we can’t afford vehicles and walk everywhere else we need to go.

My question is what is a typical family budget and how do I start to budget with a low-income in Canada when we make just enough to cover the bills?

Thanks for any budgeting tips.

Signed,

KW

In a country as prosperous as Canada, everyone should have a real and fair chance to succeed.

The Government of Canada is focused on growth that benefits all Canadians, investing $22 billion since 2015 in efforts to help grow the middle class and reduce poverty.

The poverty rate of 9.5 percent in 2017 represents the lowest rate of poverty ever based on Canada’s Official Poverty Line (formerly known as the Market Basket Measure).

This historic low poverty rate represents an important step towards the Government of Canada’s goal to cut poverty in half by 2030. – Source

The current unemployment rate in Canada as of January 2019 was 5.3% which has decreased over the years but it still doesn’t solve the problem.

People in Canada are struggling to find meaningful work with a wage that will cover their bills.

In Ontario, the number of people employed rose by 41,000 in January, the result of an increase in full-time work. At the same time, more people looked for work (+31,000), pushing the unemployment rate up 0.3 percentage points to 5.7%. In the 12 months to January, employment in the province grew by 2.4% or 170,000.- Source

When exhausting all means and having to rely on employment insurance which we graciously pay into and the social assistance/welfare system just to survive it becomes fight or flight.

We all need to survive and falling oun tough times can happen to anyone, even those people with 6 figure incomes.

When I moved to Canada from the UK finding a job was just as tough back home as it is was in Canada.

Everywhere you looked people were graduating with degrees but weren’t finding jobs so they ended up working in factories or anywhere they could make money to pay the bills.

It’s no different in Canada but I believe we have more opportunities here than we do back home in England.

Like many others who move to Canada we are led to believe that there is opportunity everywhere and there is, IF you qualify.

I struggled for a long while before I gave up and went back to school to upgrade my education to help build my resume.

No matter what your income level there are two things that are important when it comes to budgeting.

  1. Financial Education
  2. Motivation

Before you embark on a budgeting journey you need to know what you are getting yourself into.

By this I mean have you learned as much as you can about the budgeting process so you don’t tumble before you stand.

There are many people who think budgeting is simple and it isn’t hard but it’s important to follow a process.

A budget is a tool for everyone to educate themselves about how they are spending and saving the money they earn.

People in lone-parent families recorded among the largest decreases in poverty in 2017—the proportion of people in these families living below the Official Poverty Line fell from 29.2% in 2016 to 22.7% in 2017.

The poverty rate for persons in lone-parent families has been declining steadily over the previous five years, associated with increases in child benefits.

Minimum Wage Ontario

What is the minimum wage in Ontario?

Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee.

Most employees are eligible for minimum wage, whether they are full-time, part-time, casual employees, or are paid an hourly rate, commission, piece rate, flat rate or salary.

Minimum wage in Ontario for 2018 is $14.00 an hour where student minimum wage is $13.15 an hour but after working 40 hours you still have taxes deducted. 

Minimum wage rates

Minimum wage rate Rates from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017 Rates from October 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 Rates from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2020
General minimum wage $11.40 per hour $11.60 per hour $14.00 per hour
Student minimum wage $10.70 per hour $10.90 per hour $13.15 per hour
Liquor servers minimum wage $9.90 per hour $10.10 per hour $12.20 per hour
Hunting and fishing guides minimum wage $56.95
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day$113.95
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
$58.00
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day$116.00
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
$70.00
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day$140.00
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
Homeworkers wage $12.55 $12.80 $15.40 per hour
Wilderness guides minimum wage N/A N/A Rates from June 3, 2019:

$70.00
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

$140.00
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive

What does a typical budget look like?

To answer this question is difficult as I believe everyone has their own way of setting up a budget according to their income and debts but typically does include some basics.

Fixed Expenses

The general basics of budgeting include fixed expenses which are expenses that are almost the same every time you need to pay them (ie. rent or a mortage payment.

Variable Expenses

There are also variable expenses that you can expect to fluctuate month after month or when the bill is due (clothing, water bill, gas, cell phone, etc).

Sample Budget

Every month on Canadian Budget Binder I post our actual budget for 2 people which is more than a sample it’s all our actual figures which you can look at to see how we manage our money.

You can read back over the past 6 years of our monthly budget posts to get an idea of how our family budgets our money.

Low-Income Budgeting Tips

How to budget if you are on low-income?

Well, if you are not making lots of money or enough to cover the bills then you have to ask yourself if any of your variable expenses you can let go of or cut back on?

That means no more eating out, no cell phone or try pay as you go, no cable or a cheaper package (negotiate with your provider), no holidays or maybe enjoy a stay-cation or limit to surrounding area etc.

The hardest part about being on a budget is living through the budget itself.

You can’t keep making excuses every time you make a purchase because the budget will not be kind to you nor will the bill collectors who want their money.

We tend to put all of our purchases on credit cards as we know our budget inside out and pay the bill at the end off the month.

If you don’t own a credit card or you are not confident in paying one in full, use cash/debit only.

You can put together a cash envelope budgeting system that works for you.

No guessing, no monthly credit card bills just plain old cash budgeting.

Just because someone is low-income doesn’t mean they can’t use a credit card or they are irresponsible with money, it has nothing to do with that.

Consumer debt is another story and if you want to live a simple life, you’ll knock it on the head and fast.

Couples Budgeting Tips

One thing I like to point out from the start is that if you are married or in a relationship you must learn to budget as a couple.

It doesn’t matter who does the work but you both need to be on the same page, or it will fail.

  • Why are you both going to work hard at budgeting your finances for the family?
  • So what are your goals and objectives?

I’ve also designed an excel budget spreadsheet that you can use if you like, that is if you feel it is what would work for your family.

There are so many articles on CBB about budgeting but the most important one is our 10 Step Mini Budgeting Series.

If you are new to budgeting I would suggest that you start there as it will educate you on the basics of budgeting.

When it comes to budgeting you have options;

Stop Eating Your Budget

In October 2012 I participated in The Welfare Food Challenge where I had $26 to spend for the week on groceries.

Although it was tough, I made it through and I did budget my grocery shop for that week.

I often think that starting with the grocery budget is a great way to get your feet wet in the budgeting world since food is a necessity in our lives and the budget.

Some families spend more on their food expenses each month than they do on their rent or mortgage, which is outrageous.

I had one CBB reader share her story of spending $1100 a month to $600 a month in a short period just by using tips found at Canadian Budget Binder and other popular websites.

Preparing a budget no matter what your income level is can give you peace of mind as it gives you a greater understanding of your finances. 

Budgeting allows you to appoint budget categories that fit your lifestyle which becomes a monitoring system for your money.

Not Earning Enough Money

When you’re not earning enough money to balance your budget the financial emergency becomes real and needs critical attention.

You might even wonder why it took so long to start budgeting once you see how much money you need to survive in comparison to what you net each month.

If you aren’t making enough money to cover your debt and basic living needs then your options become your life-line.

  1. Earn Extra Money
  2. Get a Second Job
  3. Spend Less Money
  4. Consolidate Debt
  5. Update Your Skills

Back To School

Alternatively, you could always take on some part-time courses at your local college or university to build your resume to reflect current needs in the employment market. 

Going back to school means you may find a higher paying job and become sought-after by employers.

This is what happened to me and although it was a struggle financially it paid off BIG TIME in the end.

Years later I’m working in a full-time capacity for what I graduated in and earning a 6-figure income with a defined benefits plan.

Earn More Money

I know making extra money for some is not an option but if you have time and the physical ability the extra cash will come in handy.

The lovely Katrina who writes for me here at CBB, she’s a single mom on a mission to cash in on the extra cash she earns.

She has been doing whatever it takes to look after herself and her 2 children as a single parent with one-income.

She earns extra money using her landscape and gardening skills which helps balance her monthly budget so she can do more with her kids.

Another fan turned her life around after drugs, alcohol, divorce, and debt and now she makes jewellery on the side for extra cash.

Don’t give up, don’t think negatively and push until you have no more go in you or you find another viable option.

If you do give up then you have only yourself to answer to and really that’s what it all boils down to.

How to make extra money

Job hunting for a second income source may be depressing but think about how much that extra money will mean to your budget.

Some ways you can make extra money may be working over-time, a second job, baby-sitting, lawn maintnenace, shovelling or using skills that you may have in a skilled trade such as a mechanic, hair dresser or plumber.

How Seniors Can Earn Extra Money

If your kids are old enough teach them money lessons by starting a paper route which will give them a kick-start in money management.

Let them be responsible for earning their own spending money and the responsibility of paying bills.

It was my first job growing up and what really got me interested in money in the first place.

To be honest I was kind-of hooked on earning money because I knew I could buy stuff with it.

In the end, I ended up saving it all and buying my first car when I was able to drive.

Spend Less Money

When it comes to a budget for families the final numbers are going to be up to you although not everyone has the luxury to go out and earn extra money especially if health issues are a set-back.

Consolidate Debt

If you are finding that you are spending too much on credit and unable to pay it back one option is a credit card balance transfer.

Taking advantage of a balance transfer could save you enough money to put towards other debts depending on which credit card you set up the balance transfer with.

You can also consider taking out a bank loan where the bank consolidates your debts into one so you have one payment each month.

For many people, this type of consolidation helps them get back on their feet and working towards debt freedom.

Credit counselling is an option where someone helps you with debt solutions and assists with financial planning strategies. 

Understanding Budget Percentages

Our breakdown of budget expenses below gives you a general idea of what percentage of our budget we put our money into.

So you start with 100% and parts of your budget categories will fit nicely into each of these sections except for projected expenses unless you save for them which I believe everyone should who budgets.

The money has to come from somewhere for those bills that come every so often but we tend to forget about it.

We call these projected expenses in our budget and is step 10 in my budgeting series.

If you tell me you can’t budget in the projected expenses that means you are spending too much money.

If you use projected expenses you need to decide what percentage value you will give to that category.

The bill may not be here yet, but it will be so it’s not invisible.

If you don’t save a portion of that bill every month you WILL have to find the money to pay for it when it comes in.

Perhaps you find your percentages are higher than what is suggested below which should set off alarm bells.

This could potentially mean you are spending more than you earn.

The numbers will give you your answers once you track your expenses for a minimum of 3 months.

No budget will EVER work if you spend more than you earn.

I’ve had fans whose net income is $3000 a month yet they set up a budget with potential expenses of $4000.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

Your budget must balance where you spend less than you earn or all of the money is allocated to your budget categories, full-stop.

There’s no magic that will make debt or expenses go away unless you earn more money or spend less each month.

household-budget-percentages-july

Grocery Expenses

Track your grocery expenses for one month and from there you can start to cut back and have a better understanding of your spending habits. 

While doing this you can also start meal planning, using flyers, coupons if you can any way you can cut back without compromising your health and well-being.

I’ve got a free recipe index of delicious frugal recipes that you have full access to so check it out and try some of the recipes.

If you are on a restricted diet then search the web as there are millions of blogs and lots of information for you at your fingertips.

My wife was on a low-gi diet but has since changed to a Keto diet which hasn’t impacted our grocery budget too much. 

If you want to print out meal plans, shopping lists, pantry inventory lists, and so much more take advantage of the free money-saving tools I’ve put together for you as well.

No one says you have to eat all convenience type food, I didn’t when I did the one week challenge so if you really want this, you can do it.

If you are not sure how much your grocery budget should be the easiest way is to fill out the budget spreadsheet once you know your net income and have all the bills and debts you owe in front of you.

At that point, you can then transfer the numbers into the budget but you will learn all of this by reading our 10 Step Budgeting Series.

Once your numbers all fall into place and you will clearly see where you need to make changes.

Low-Income Community Assistance

There should be financial help for low-income families in your community and if you find there is none then surf the web, read books from the library and network with others who may be in the same financial situation.

In Ontario, there are Credits, Benefits, and Incentives for low-income families or single people that can help.

Effective January 1, 2019, the non-refundable Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit provides up to $850 in Ontario Personal Income Tax relief to low-income Ontario taxpayers who have employment income, including those earning minimum wage.

Do whatever it takes to get yourself back on track working towards a safe place that you want to be in financially.

 Most of all, never give up hope.

Post Updated: June 2019

Discussion: What other tips do you have for low-income earners who want to budget?

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39 Comments

  1. I find with the price of food being so high, I am able to stretch my disability benefits farther by making sure I always shop with coupons. If I always make sure to stock up on my dry goods, cleaning supply basics, health and beauty needs when they are on sale, and use coupons – the savings goes into fresh produce and meat on sale of course, or my savings if not a good meat or produce sale that week. There are some great coupon sites with lots of Free Product Coupon’s – Buy 1 Get 2 Free – Buy 1 Get 1 Free – as well as high value and just plain great value coupon sites available online you just have to find them and request the coupons or print them out. If you start by saving just $10 a week with coupons that’s $520 at the end of the year, not bad for not even giving anything up! Just saying.

    1. Hi Jane,
      I think many people who are against coupons seem to forget that those savings on everyday items that coupons are for can go towards meat, produce, dairy etc. So yes very smart of you. We do the same. I love that for a post idea~~ $10 a week with coupons is $520 savings at the end of the year! It all adds up! Well done Jane. I’d love to read your grocery shops every month. Won’t you please join us in the Grocery Game Challenge every Tuesday? There’s a team of CBB fans who post their shops every week to track their grocery budget. I’d be more than happy to get you started.
      MR.CBB

    2. P.S I never save the $520, only about $280 of it as I like to keep my freezer and pantry fully stocked. It took a bit of time to build my pantry and fill my freezer, and now I keep it stocked to share with a few friends that struggle a little from time to time. Couponing allows me to share and that is what I think my blessings are for. CBB has helped me and my friends learn to live well and live large, while living light of unneeded crap on little income, and we are all that much the healthier and happier for it. Also check with your local farmers if you have any in your area as some still do gleaning in their fields as each crop is harvested. Excellent opportunity to get fresh fruit and vegetables free, you get to take home all you can pick from the areas the farmers allow you to pick. In my area the farmers set aside a section of each crops field for the YWCA to bring single mothers and low income families out for a morning or afternoon of picking. We have access to tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, corn, apples, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and peas/beans. Peace out.

      1. We used to use coupons quite a bit back in 2010-2012 but have since cut back. 1- we have tonnes of stuff which we got free or near free. Jugs of laundry soap for under $0.50 with coupons, free toothpaste with coupons from the dentist and so on. Coupons are NOT as lucrative as they once were. Zellers was also a great store for us to get deals but that has since gone. As you can see from my Grocery Game Challenge write-ups we don’t use many coupons. We save more with in-store deals such as reduced product. Great idea with the farmers. Smart!! Thanks Jane for being such a loyal fan! Mr.CBB

  2. Great article and tips Mr. CBB!! Kudos to the family asking the questions… They already understand that they can’t afford some things like vehicles…..Good for them! I hope they find the article helpful.

    1. I love fan questions. It’s nice to hear what is happening in my fans lives so we can all help or add our personal experiences. Thanks Pat!!

  3. Great post. As a financial planner I always try to explain that budget are for every with money – even people who don’t have a lot of money. The truth is that if you budget right people with low income may end up having more disposable income than people with higher incomes.

  4. I Wish I had all your information years ago. Now days young people have so much information at their finger tips. There’s no reason for them to go blindly though life. People before them have made the mistakes. They can learn from them. I love the free help tools you offer. Anything a person needs to know is at the touch of the buttons. My life could’ve have Been sooooo different had I had this knowledge years ago. Even though I’m soon to be 60 I don’t thing it’s to late to make a difference in my life for the better. Thanks to you an old woman is a lot wiser ! LOL. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks . LOL. I have less money Now then any time in My life but feel more content. I’ve learned the difference between wants & needs. Two small words but pack a big change in your life If you teach yourself the true meaning of each . There is a way out of debt & getting ahead. Deal with your needs till you get in control of your money cituation . Then ask if this is a want is it important enough ,will this make my life better, two months from Now will it still be important in my life ,& is it worth Just a few moments of feeling good to Just feel guilty later ? Look at your past . How many things have you bought something that later you wished you hadn’t . If we’d be honest we ALL have. I know I have & while we arΓ© being honest I’m still guilty !! I’m human . It’s an Every day thing we have to work at. If you slip Just get back on track. That’s why blogs arΓ© so great. You get information to help you . The best part is you get to talk to people having money problem like you . No one judges anyone. Every one is there to lean . Hope more find help from your blog & all the other blogs like yours. Thanks for all you do to help others .

    1. Hey Donna,
      Thank you for the lovely comment. We all have to learn from our mistakes in life and pray we don’t make them again. The most important things I’ve learned is never to fear asking for help, never stop educating and never give up. We are human and sometimes when we give up hope we let everything fall apart. We need to be strong and we will all get through our trials in life. Cheers mate!

  5. First off, I commend your reader for wanting to take control of her finances (and her husband too). I think it’s one of those things that can just feel really frustrating – especially if you don’t have a lot coming in. You offer some nice clear direction on how they can take their next steps for building a budget and save some money. The beauty is these can be done on any budget. I think that it might be overwhelming at first, but if your readers start to develop different habits, it will only get better!

  6. I think it’s great the KW is reading and trying to think of ways to help her financial situation. Whether you have a lot of money or not much, you should track everything you spend to see where it’s going. It sounds like they are not spending on silly things, so I think the answer would be to find a way to earn money. I think Katrina would be a very good resource for how to find jobs using your skills while still raising a child. Best of luck to KW. I hope she will give an update down the road.

  7. We’re in much the same boat as the person with the question, income wise. Beth had some very good points to help with the grocery amounts as did others. A budget is so important to let you know how much you do have. There is help available from places like the local churches, the Salvation Army Church runs the food bank here in my town, there is a community dinner once a month I believe the churches have. This time of the year there is so much fresh produce to be had at great prices!! You could put potting soil in a 6-8 inch pot and grow some salad greens in the apt window. I have a core from a celery head growing in a little dish in water right now, it’s even getting roots! The 6 yr old might get a kick out of seeing that, also carrot tops will grow in a bit of water.
    If there is a series that you watch on tv, try checking the library as so many shows now have dvd’s of each season you can borrow as well as movies galore. They have books for all ages and interests.There are cookbooks that can help out with meals and teach you the basics if need be. Most libraries also have book sales on a regular basis where you can buy books, magazines, vhs tapes, dvd’s and such very cheap. I have seen courses available as a dvd package at our local library too. They are a great resource for what kind of help might be available in the community. There are kids programs there.
    I post my shops every week here in the Grocery Game Challenge, I coupon and I try to stockpile sale items to help the budget. Knowing your prices really helps with stockpiling, even all you can get is one or two items. If you know your prices you can tell how good the deal is and this holds true for groceries and anything else you need to get including clothes for the youngsters. Signing up online with stores can let you know when the best deals are on. Coupon sites like GoCoupons, Websaver, Save.ca, P&G Brandsaver can get you some nice coupons to combine with sales prices for the best money saving deal. P&G and Sample source also send out samples… free, to those that are registered with them. Sites like Coupon Christine, Mrs January and Save Big Live Better send out emails to let your know when these offers are released so you can get your goodies sent to you…..
    These are all ideas I have used to help save as much as I can

  8. The hard truth is that when you are living on a very low income, the guidelines proposed by Mr. CBB are a lovely thing to shoot for but may not be attainable. You are far more likely to exceed the housing guidelines on a low income because even the most basic family shelter can take up more than 35% of a low earner’s income. Typically shortfalls in low income families come at the expense of savings so, while it is a worthy goal to put 10% of your income aside, those living on or near minimum wage rarely attain it.

    Here are some things that can help you stretch your budget and, perhaps, increase your income:

    – Find out if there is a Good Food Box program in your community. These programs pool the purchasing power of their users to get wholesale pricing on produce and then volunteers package it for distribution. You don’t get to choose what’s in your GFB but the quality and quantity are usually far better than you might get for the same amount of money at the grocery store. There is no restriction on who can participate in the GFB program or on the number of boxes you can buy. Boxes in our area are priced at $10/each and delivered once-monthly. We usually buy two for the two of us, using up the most perishable goods – like lettuce – first and then moving on to the stuff that lasts longer. We estimate that our $20 purchase saves us something in the neighbourhood of $50/month over regular retail cost.

    -Find out if there’s a community kitchen in your area. Typically these programs require some volunteer work from the participants, either helping to maintain a garden or pitching in where needed in community programs. In return, kitchen members work together to cook large batches of affordable, nutritious food which is shared between them at minimal cost.

    -Ask for help with community programs. There are low income subsidies for things like community pools, sports activities, and extra curricular classes for both kids and adults. Getting these things free or at a reduced cost can benefit your budget and your health. They can also provide affordable entertainment that will help you resist the temptation to blow the budget on things like pizza and a movie.

    -Check to see if there are clothing swaps in your area, or sporting goods swaps. If there are, you can take your clothing or sporting goods (provided they are clean and in good repair) to exchange for other goods more suited to your needs. It’s a great way to clothe growing children more affordably.

    -Ditch your cable and learn to love your local public library. Libraries have so much more than books these days. (Not that I don’t love books. πŸ™‚ ) You can borrow games and movies at the library too and, provided you return them on time, they’re free.

    -If you’re pressed for money, ditch your internet connection. Set up a Gmail or hotmail account so that you can access your email wherever you are and then make use of free Wi-Fi at your local library and other places in the community. Many businesses offer free internet and you don’t actually have to go in the store or restaurant to use it, you just have to be within range of their wireless hub. When I couldn’t afford internet, you’d find me at least twice a day sitting on a bench outside our local Safeway store, making use of the Wi-Fi connection they so kindly provided.

    -Access as much free education as you can. Most school districts offer free adult education classes to those seeking a high school diploma or looking for refresher courses in high school level courses like English, math, and the sciences. Some adult education courses require a text book rental, and some charge an exam fee but they are usually minimal. If you ask, some help may be available to cover even these small expenses. Also inquire about job training/skills upgrading programs available to low income earners in your area. These vary from province to province but skills training assistance is available throughout Canada.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your input Beth,
      I think the guidelines I put forward are just that. There are so many ways to save and categories in the budget are personal… I know I can’t put myself in someone else’s shoes and I never would try but I do my best to motivate people so they know there is hope out there.

      1. Thanks for the valuable information Beth Anne! I am going to check and see if we have a Good Food Box program in our community. I had never heard of it. πŸ™‚

      2. I know they’re just guidelines Mr. CBB, and i wasn’t intending to criticize, just observing that on a very limited budget they can be a challenge however careful a person might be.

        You’re right. There is always hope. We had nearly a year where we had no income at all and huge health related expenses. We couldn’t even afford to buy food or to heat our house. (The library was our good friend then because we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted during daily opening hours in its comfortable, heated space.) We’re back on our feet now. It was hard, and we are still doing without things in order to provide against future emergencies, but we’re proof that it can be done.

        1. Yes my dear, I know. πŸ™‚ The best thing about blogging is learning from others and their situations. I try to be open to everyone so they can share what they’ve been through and tips to help others. I don’t think we will ever have a standardized world and we’ll never have a budget where one size fits all. What we can have is hope that if even with some changes or ways that others have tried and helped them will also help others. The library idea is brilliant and perfect to relax and educate.

  9. I think budgeting is important whether you have a big or small budget, but it probably becomes even more critical when you have one with little wiggle room. Most people have a little fat that can be trimmed from their budget so definitely go over all your expenses with an eagle eye. Anything you can think negotiate a lower price, ask. The worst thing is they will say no and you will continue paying the same price. At best, you can save a few extra dollars. And look for extra ways to earn money. Perhaps your son has a friend, you can babysit after school and help with his homework, etc.

  10. Great advice and breakdown Mr. CBB! I think it obviously can be done, it just might require a little more thinking and creativity. At the end of the day, a budget is a budget and having less to work with just might mean working a little harder to make it work out in the long run.

  11. CBB!!! This is such a good and well reasoned post. The ratios apply no matter what we make. Ya just cannot spend more than you make and adhering to those ratios will keep you outta trouble no matter what you make. When Tammy and I made $18k a year up in NY, our budget looked a lot different from today, but we still could not spend more than we made. Have a honey bee Thursday!!!

  12. My biggest savings week to week are that we eat what is on sale!

    I have had weeks where all the meat and fish in the flyers is more than I want to pay… so be it. It’s a vegetarian week using eggs, cheese, beans, lentils and dairy products as the center of the meal plans. That’s actually easier than it sounds… spaghetti, macaroni, homemade soup, vegetarian chili, omelette, baked beans or even a stir fry with rice. There you go… a week’s worth of supper and it’s not yucky or weird vegetarian stuff either. Lunches could be peanut butter and jam or cheese sandwiches or a dish of cottage cheese/yogurt with sliced hard boiled eggs & fruit/vegetables. Eggs are such a cheap protein! The Canada food guide has reduce the amount of protein required in a day so don’t be afraid to reduce the amount you are putting on a plate. πŸ™‚

    If you are running a really tight budget, learn how to cook dried beans and pulses. They are so much less expensive than their canned counterparts!! If you read What’s For Dinner, you will get lots of yummy ideas on what to do with them from reading Mr CBB’s meals and Mr CBB cooks his chickpeas up using his crockpot. Easy peasy!

    When we were on vacation in Oregon, I spotted 14 oz cans of Aylmer diced tomatoes at Walmart for 47 cents a can + Oregon has no sales tax. I NEVER see them at home for less than 98 cents a can, so we stocked up and hauled a case home with us.

    I can use those tomatoes for a pasta topping, in a soup or stew and so many other possibilities. All I could think was 47 cents for my spaghetti sauce is a whole lot cheaper, not to mention healthier, than a $3 jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce. I can sprinkle a little basil and oregano from the bulk bins into it and it tastes like an Italian sauce & I could thicken the juice with a little flour but sometimes I save the juice to add to a soup and just use the tomato pulp on my pasta. πŸ˜€

    My Mom had a cash envelope in her purse that she had for groceries on deep, deep discount. If she saved 50 cents on the weekly groceries using a coupon or by getting a sale – that 50 cents went in her cash envelope. Not only did she manage to tuck some emergency money away buying Canada Savings bonds every fall, that little envelope saved her family on more than one occasion from a financial disaster, and she also had cash when she spotted a “too good to be true” sale like I just did.

    To spot a sale, you have to know your prices… start a list of the products your family uses. (Mr CBB has a free download list) Mark down the regular price so you recognize sales and if they are a just a little sale or a downright HUGE one. Don’t be afraid to try the No Name brands… we use many of them because they are so much cheaper and not that much different MOST of the time. In fact, we have some items where we actually prefer the no name version! There are a few things that we are diehards about getting the name brand, but really not many.

    I have been posting in the grocery game challenge this last year and reading the posts of the other folks – to pick up tips and tricks as to how I can get the best meals out of the funds I have to work with for my family. It’s helped me a lot. We are still eating very well in 2013 using the budget I had in 2012… even though groceries are a lot more expensive this year.

    I stockpile some items that we use every week like: toilet paper, antiperspirant, all our soaps, tomatoes, beans, hubby’s popcorn for popping, bread products I throw in the freezer, tea, lemon juice and broth. I keep enough on hand to get from one big sale to another without having to pay full price ever. I won’t do it… full price is just not on my list of available options. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  13. My comment is directed at the e-book, The A – Z of saving money. On the home page it shows the e-book as being .99 cents. When I click the book to go to the purchase page, it shows the book as being $4.99. Which price is correct?

  14. OMG I can’t believe I forgot to add budget!!! Make sure you use Mr CBB’s budget! It has made a tremendous difference in my family’s finances! We were drowning in debt a year and a half ago, living pay cheque to pay cheque and still not making ends meet. With Mr CBB’s budget and guidance we have been regularly paying our debt off, easily paying our bills, and SAVING MONEY! πŸ™‚ It can be a lot of work in the beginning but is so worth it!

  15. You make a lot of great points Mr CBB – seeing where you can make cuts or negotiate with your service providers. Doing that saved me tons. We cut out the 407 ETR on our daily commute, and negotiated with Bell and lowered our home phone, cell phones, Internet and satellite bills.
    Also doing what you can to earn extra money. I get laid off every summer. This summer I’ve made extra cash by babysitting my cousins daughter for 5 weeks out of the 9 weeks I’m off ($750 cash) and I’ve gone through the basement and I’ve been selling items I no longer need or use on a Facebook auction group that’s in my city. I’ve made about $200 that way so far and still have a bunch if stuff up for auction. It has actually made me more money than if I had out those items in a garage sale as people expect even cheaper prices at a garage sale.
    I also suggest joining a local “freecycle” group which can be found through Yahoo. You can request any needed items on there for free. This has also helped me save a great deal of money.
    Yard sales are also a great way to save money. I know it may be more difficult when you don’t have a vehicle but perhaps you could take the bus to a large street or community sale or ask a friend that has a car if they’d like to have some fun and get some deals garage sailing Saturday morning πŸ™‚

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