At one point or another, every household struggles with balancing a budget when finances are scarce. Pinching corners may seem impossible, since you have already done this so many times and still struggle to make ends meet. I hope to share some tips and encouragement that will empower you to shine during this hard time.

When Finances Are Scarce - Tight times are difficult, but finding ways to make it easier can make even the hardest budget better. |

When Finances are Scarce

Most homes have felt the strains that finances can bring, especially to a marriage. Pinching pennies, going without and even cutoff notices are depressing and overwhelming when you are doing all you can do to make your resources be enough for your needs.

We have been there several times in our own home and I have learned a lot during those difficult times. A few of these learning moments, were more about my own spending habits, beliefs that my ‘needs' were actually want's and that convenience wasn't necessary.

Learning these habits were not something that I wanted at the time and really took time for me to see, but looking back, I'm happy that our journey included some rough patches financially because it really taught us how to prioritize and work together as a couple on budgeting (although at times, we still don't see eye to eye… that is the real that I promised!) and our financial goals for our family.

I want to share some tips that I have implemented to help during the times when finances are scarce or when we are working toward a goal of paying down debt or saving for a high ticketed item, so you are empowered with the resources you have available to you.

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Women need a break in the kitchen.

Let's face it, going out to eat is all about getting mom out of the kitchen or for the convenience of not having to go home and wait for a meal to be ready. However, when our family goes out to eat, it is easy to spend $75 for our family of 6 (and we only drink water!).

Of course, we live in the country, so having a delivery isn't possible. This makes the idea of pizza not so attractive because it requires someone to go get it and these days, it is still $25 or more to feed our family the pizza we prefer from a restaurant.

Our budget friendly solution to this real need is to buy frozen pizza and have the kids make cook it. Our taste are so different with frozen pizza, so my husband and I get one that we like and our children choose two they like. Now, I can have a break and we can eat for about $18 or less for a convenient meal.

A few other convenient meals that we take advantage of to replace eating out are:

  • bagel and eggs for breakfast
  • toasted cheese with canned soup
  • hot dogs and mac & cheese

Family dates are important and necessary but hard on the budget.

We love to go to local parks that are free and play ball, walk, ride bikes or play at the park.

We also love renting a movie from a Redbox and calling it family movie night. We splurge on a dessert and hunker down in the family room, which beats the price at the theaters and the comfort as well. Oh, and don't get me started on being able to control the remote for scenes that we prefer not to watch or for bathroom breaks.

We love to do memberships to some of the places the children love because for the most part, they pay for themselves after two visits. Talk about a budget saving idea! We do this for birthday gifts, Mother or Father Day gifts, since gifts are already expected and they can be enjoyed for the whole year.

Save money on the wants that feel like ‘needs'.

Today electronics are everywhere and they really take a toll on our finances. If you go without them, you can really feel like you are missing out and depending on your family, you could be.

If everyone in your house has a cell phone, shut off the house phone can save you a lot of money each month.

If you have unlimited data, you may want to watch your favorite shows on the internet or through your Prime membership from Amazon (they even have movies included) or another provider and cancel your television service.

Save money on groceries can seem daunting.

This is where many people feel overwhelmed because you need to feed your family. In times when we were having financial problems, I would use beans and rice as fillers in our foods, like soups, salads or tacos. They were cheap and healthy, plus the perfect addition to making many of my recipes stretch further.

I saved a lot on meats doing the beans and rice as fillers and by adding the right seasonings, my family didn't mind it.

Coupons are obvious to everyone, right? Of course, some stores have great sales without the coupons. I always shopped the sales and then made my meals around the sales items, instead of going with a menu plan and buying what I needed. This has always been a great way to save money in the necessities of life.

Make home an amazing place to be so your family will be happy to spend time there.

The meaningful part of the times when finances were scarce was finding things that made us happy at home. Board games are the perfect way to fill an evening at home and save money on fuel and things that aren't necessary for your life at this time.

Making sure our children has things to fill their days with fun was important to us because we wanted them to feel happy even when spending most of their week at our home. We never put them in sports, but made sure they had sports equipment to do at home or at a nearby park with us. The memories we made doing this was priceless. The reward is that as our older children are in their early adult years, they love spending their free time with us.