My husband and I are on a tight budget and currently holding a balance on two credit cards. We came up with a no spend strategy to help us get out of his hole and wanted to share some budgeting tips with you in case you were on a shoestring budget as well.
Holding large credit card balances isn’t something we typically do as a family. We are firm believers that you should reset your balances to zero every month. Nothing owed to any credit card. If you charge something, you better have the money to pay for it when the bill comes through your door.
But, truth be told, we got a little crazy this quarter and threw our monthly budget right out the window. We booked a few vacations. We made a few impulse purchases. Hey, we are only human!
I turned 40 a few months back and we are still coming out from under ALL OF THAT. It’s just been rolling from Europe to Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day. And that’s how debt starts.
You Have No Right Spending Money On These 8 Things If You Are On A Tight Budget
We had a HUGE sit down this last weekend and created a tight budget to adhere to because we will NOT live our lives in the red. I don’t talk about this much, but my husband and I are currently in the process of buying our second commercial property.
We are investors. We are planners. We are overachievers. We constantly think about retirement – looking at the big picture. But sometimes… life happens. We had a really fun few years and with those memories comes a lot of digging. Nothing is impossible. We just had to acknowledge first what we did.
After several hours of figuring out everything that we owed, we created a very tight budget to adhere to. A weekly breakdown to keep us in check! Doing this is really helpful and something I highly suggest. In fact, you should do money check-ins often.
Once you create your own personal tight budget for your family, it’s time to start cutting things out of your life. Are you ready to hear my suggestions?
By the way, it has to sting when you get out of debt. You can’t go to all the social gatherings. You can’t have big parties at your house. You know that big trip you wanted to take to Canada? Yeah… maybe next year.
We want to give our children everything. We want to make every Saturday a great night out. We want to order in the latest Marvel movie as soon as it shows up on our TV. Well, guess what? Those $8.99 all add up. Those Ubers into the city all add up. Every bit counts. And we have to be conscious of our spending habits because the snowball effect is REAL.
So, here are 8 things you have to avoid when you are trying to get out of debt. Let’s go through all of my monthly budget tips – one at a time.
No Takeout Food
Ordering in food is so easy, right? Believe me. I am right there with you. After putting in a really long day at work, sometimes I don’t have the energy to whip up a meal in front of the stove. Well, ordering a pizza or Chinese food is not the solution.
In fact, for a family of five, it can cost you several hundred dollars a month! It’s just not worth it! Start stocking up on a few great crockpot recipes and call it a day.
No More Paid Movie Nights
You know and I know that there are 8,000 channels on your cable box and you can find SOMETHING to watch if you really tried hard enough. You do NOT need to rent a movie off your TV or head to the theatre. Not with that much debt looming over your head.
And let’s be honest… when a family goes to the theatre, after the soda and the popcorn and the candy… you are in the hole for $150! At least, that’s how it is in NY. Not today, Satan! Not today!
I am a movie FANATIC. It’s my favorite HOBBY. Yes, I tell people that watching movies is a hobby. It brings me absolute joy, but right now I have to get my life in order. So, the big screen can wait. My budget cannot.
No More Buying Books
Girl, stop. You know you have a library in your town – go and get a library card. Stop pretending like you forgot. You know it’s free. Life is hard. This planet is not for everyone… but I believe in you.
No More Subscription-Based Services
OOOOOOHHHHHH I’m not going to lie. You won’t pry Netflix out of my cold dead hands. Even if you tried. It’s not going to happen!!!!!
Amazon Prime neither! Those things are staying with me for L-I-F-E. However, everything else is up for grabs right now. Come on – the food boxes, the clothes boxes, the beauty boxes, the “boxes” boxes. Whatever you have going on – kill them. It’s all nonsense and your tight budget won’t allow for it.
No More $5 Coffee
This is another argument I am willing to have with you, but I am a realist and I can see very clearly how $5 a day adds up. Make the coffee at home. Brew a pot – it lasts all day.
You can even get snobby about how you make it. No water. Light whip. A sprinkle of cinnamon. I don’t care what you do. Get weird. But do it on your dime and save that money for the RED. Always think about that red.
No More In-App Purchases
My children are always running to me and begging me for $.99 to buy gems or gold or kryptonite. I don’t know what they are saying. And sometimes, if they catch me on a good day… I cave into them. But I have THREE KIDS and if I do for one … I have to do for all of them. It all adds up.
It’s stupid. These purchases are literally digital. They aren’t real. They aren’t tangible. My son now has a stronger barricade. What? How has that helped my family? I rather have used those few dollars on milk. Think about every dollar spent.
No More Impulse Purchases
I am the queen of impulse purchases. Actually, I am the queen of impulse decisions.
Don’t buy the random rug you see at Target while you are walking through because they have the oxygen pumping extra high and the colors are super bright and it’s the LAST thing you need to finish up your living room because you know you’re lying. You’re never going to finish up your living room.
Impulse purchases end marriages. Just bring a list and stick to it. Otherwise, your tight budget will suffer – big time!
No more summer camps / extracurricular activities / after school clubs that are outside of your monthly budget goals
I ended with this one because it is the hardest and most difficult one to hear. We want to give our children everything. EVERYTHING. Everything we didn’t have and everything that their friends do. When you are living on a budget, this is the hardest thing to adjust. I know. I KNOW.
This summer, we signed our children up for all types of camps. I would say that we spent around $10,000 doing so. You read that number correctly.
And you know what? We had no business doing that. It is actually disgusting to think that my husband and I spent that kind of money knowing that we owed what we owed. But the thought process was that we had to put them in camp with their friends.
It’s a hard call. I want them to be happy and engaged and surrounded by joy, but at the same time, I need to be responsible and show them that our family comes first. Personally, I think we made the wrong decision. We can’t go back and change what we’ve done. But I regret it and we will suffer for the new few years on a tight budget because of it.
I grew up in a different time. I know this. I grew up in a different neighborhood. I recognize that, too. NYC was so different. The streets were our camps and there was nothing wrong with that.
There was just as much “trouble” to get into back then. I don’t want to hear it. I mean… I hung out under a bridge. We came home when the lights came on. There were no phones to contact us. We did what we wanted.
I didn’t need $4,000 worth of entertainment. I didn’t need a day of pool, then crafts, then horseback riding, then soccer, then whatever else. It’s just so absurd. And yes – I am happy that my children get to experience this life, but I don’t believe they NEED to be handed all this entertainment. They can just do it all themselves if we let them. But we don’t let them.
BONUS – No More Cab Rides
I know Uber is easy. I know the yellow cabs seem inviting. But the train is cheap and it gets you there just fine. Once you get the hang of a tight budget, these decisions will get easier.
I was standing in the pouring rain yesterday in the middle of Manhattan and the surge prices were soaring for Uber. Everything in my body wanted me to hit the button and grab that $158 ride home. Yes, you read that correctly. But I didn’t because I knew that living in the red wasn’t worth it.
Instead, I made my way to Penn Station and took my $12 LIRR ride home instead. I was soaking wet. I was angry, but I was an adult doing adult things. The $136 I save will literally go straight to my credit card balance. One little digital chip at a time. That’s how it works.
Do you have any tight budget tips that you’d like to share? I would love to hear them! Share them below.