A wise person once said these words: “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” In plain terms, you are the very person responsible for your financial capabilities and in capabilities. Thus, with a couple of modifications here and there and a little inventiveness on your part, you can pay your bills, save money, and still live a good life. Be in charge of your budget and conquer financial burden. I’ll tell you how: BE DELIBERATE AND INTENSIONAL ABOUT YOUR FINANCES Dominate your finances and leave nothing to chance. Make notes, digital or in whatever form, of your daily income and expenditure. Find out the culprit taking your money the most and cut it off! Better still, cut out the excesses! Put down all your daily and monthly expenses. Decide on what you can you eliminate, change, or reduce, without sacrificing your quality of life. Acknowledge that, sticking with a budget on a low income doesn’t mean you have to live like a pauper – it just means that you have to be wise and creative. Moreso, it saves you the stress inherent in failing to plan. There are always areas where adjustments can be made, from which money can be saved, if only we are willing to find out and do the needful. Cut down on your data and airtime consumption. Fight off all unnecessary calls and chatting for the health of your finances. Prepare your meals at home instead of eating out and if you’re bored eating the same set of food always, need I remind you that the internet is your friend? Definitely lots of ideas on there! Walk some distance and finish up with public transportation to cut down your fuel costs, and get some free exercise! Don’t be a “bunkie!” You can own a library but not a junk yard of books! You don’t have to buy every book that smiles at you! Try to reduce your utility bills by using less electricity; put off bulbs when they don’t need to be on. The AC must not always be on. Use water in moderation. DIY Projects You can save a lot of money, feel empowered, and even have some fun by doing things yourself. Do you spend a lot on beauty products? Try making your own creams, cleansers, and bath products. What about cleaning supplies? With simple, inexpensive items like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils, you can make most of your necessary household cleaning items yourself. Another way to save is by growing some of your own food. Whether you have outdoor space for a vegetable garden or can only fit a few pots for fresh herbs and lettuces, home gardening will reduce your grocery budget and provide you with an abundance of delicious, fresh veggies. Restructure Your Bills Another way to lower your expenses and have more, even on a tight budget, is to restructure your bills. Things like cable, phone, and car insurance may be necessary, but are you overpaying? Check with your providers to make sure you are using the most cost-effective option for your needs. If you don’t watch a lot of TV and you are not a heavy home internet user, then consider cancelling these bills or managing them effectively. Conquer Debt Make getting out of debt a priority. The more you pay down your debt, the more money you will have to save for the future, to invest, or to use to enjoy your life. You can start by tackling your highest interest rate debts first. Then, as each loan is paid off, use the money that you were using to pay it off to tackle the debt with the next highest interest. Reduce Your Food, Clothing, and Entertainment Expenses. Did you know how to save money on groceries and still eat healthy, delicious food? I guess not. Use these three money saving tricks at the market or supermarket: Buy in bulk. Things like grains, legumes, fruits and beverages will cost significantly less when you buy in bulk. You can easily reduce your clothing and entertainment spending simply by cutting back. If you don’t need a new shirt, then don’t buy it. If you want to go out, then find out if there are any free or low cost community events that you could enjoy before springing for an expensive night out. Make a New Budget, Enjoy Your New Life To get started: Make a list of your expenses. Make a list of what you can do to save – DIY projects, money saving grocery shopping, prioritizing high-interest debts, cancelling or reducing services, and overall just simplifying your life. Write out a new budget – the one that allows you to have everything you need, put a little extra money away into savings, and enjoy your life. Knowing how to budget on a low income, by being creative, positive, and proactive, is the secret to enjoying your life, having plenty, and saying goodbye to financial stress!