Shoestring budgeting is the art of living on a very limited amount of money. Generally speaking, people have to resort to shoestring budgeting when things go wrong financially, such as in situations when they lose their jobs or have to file for bankruptcy.
Yet, some people choose to live on a limited amount of money. It is a habit they cultivated as part of their overall money management strategy. Living on a shoestring, as the saying goes, includes saving money conscientiously and at every opportunity.
One or more of the ideas listed below may seem drastic to some. Yet, if that is what you have to do or want to do to navigate your financial circumstances, then implementation can be a prudent, reassuring choice.
Cut eating out. If you have the habit of splurging on restaurant food, just doing away with this one thing will result in surprisingly more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
Cut cable television. Imagine your life without television programming. No ads. No temptation. No time wasted on the couch staring at the television screen. Best of all, no paying that monthly bill. Without television viewing, you'll have extra time to do other things you enjoy.
Cut the landline. If you have a cell phone, that's all you need. Don't continue paying for a landline phone, as well.
Cut the meat. This may seem undoable to some, but becoming a vegetarian can cost less on groceries and be just as satisfying. And it can be healthier with the right food choices.
Cut the junk food. That means no chips, no sodas, no candy bars, no ice cream and so on. Imagine the calories you'll save, as well as the money you'll keep. (No one ever shoestring budgeting is easy.)
Cut down on costly entertainment for the kids. This doesn't mean not to entertain them in anyway. Instead, look for ways to have fun with your children that doesn't cost money. Play family games, read stories, go for a hike, do puzzles, visit a park, start a garden together... there are plenty of ideas out there and they don't cost a dime.
Cut your own lawn. And, wash your own car. In other words, don't pay and employ someone for things you can do yourself.
Cut your air conditioning. Open some windows and use a fan to stay cool. Or, at least turn your room temperature up three to five degrees so it won't cost you so much to cool your home. In the winter, do the reverse and turn your heat down to save money. Then, stay warm with e\sweaters during the day and extra blankets and night.
Cut down on your purchases. There's an old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Here's a new twist on that: " f it ain't broke, don't buy a new one. If it broke, fix it... yourself" (if possible). If you do have to replace an item, be sure to comparison shop to get the best price. Also, look for a used item to buy. Always ask for a discount because you never know when you may just get it.
Cut your car expenses. Use a bike or walk to get where you need to go. You'll save money on gas and benefit from some great exercise.
At the end of the day (or week, or month), account for every penny that comes in, and every penny that goes out. This will help you track the progress of your shoestring budgeting as you move forward with your financial goals.