Bare Bones Budgeting Tactics

contributed by Tracy
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Bare bones budgeting, when you just have no room left in the budget, can be hard. Use these tactics when you need to go one step further with trimming an already tight budget.

This is for the person who has recently been reduced to “bare bones” budgeting tactics.

“Bare bones” is always variable! Although having always been frugal, when my husband was first without work, we thought some frugal ideas were pretty extreme. A year down the line with still very little work, I’m really surprised at how much we’ve learned and how far we’ve come. We’ve never gotten to dumpster diving (yet?), but we’ve had to find ways to stretch cents in order to get by. We’ve also learned to never judge anyone or question their tactics no matter how bizarre they may seem, because we simply never know what lies ahead.

So, it can be pretty hard to define and offer my best “bare bones” ideas, but here are a few:

Save on Transportation

It’s great your car is paid off but still seek out ways to save on transportation. Public transport, sharing rides with other people or walking whenever possible are great savers.

Many people throw out old bicycles. Pick one up and ride your way to savings and fitness (and feel good about reducing all that fossil fuel pollution too!).

Share Accommodations

It can backfire if the person you choose to bunk with is irresponsible, so choose carefully. However, if you choose wisely, you can split rent and perhaps some other living expenses with someone else. Or, find someone with a spare room over the garage or even inside the house and ask to stay in return for working in the garden an afternoon a week, doing the laundry, babysitting, cooking, etc.

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Cut the Cable…

Cable’s always great (certainly if there is no other reception), but if you’re serious about cutting back, the cable should go! Join a library and read or take advantage of the free or reduced streaming services.

…and Make Some Extra Cash

Another option is to get an evening job at a movie theater to not only earn some extra cash but also see movies for free. Alternatively, use that time in the evenings that would otherwise be spent watching TV doing something that could earn some extra money.

If you’re good at something, try to find a way to make money out of it. Or offer a service like babysitting, pet grooming, dog walking, typing, tutoring, etc. All these will require is your time.

Is debt cramping your lifestyle?

Imagine how much simpler life could be if you were debt free. We can help you make a plan to get there.

Watch for Free and Cheap Food

If you see someone with a laden fruit tree in their yard, ask if you can have some of the fruit. Eat it, preserve it, freeze it, or jam it. There is a wealth of ways to make “excess” food last.

If you have the space, plant some veggies. It’s amazing how many tomatoes a single bush produces. Lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli grow well in pots on the windowsill with little effort from you.

Depending on how confident, or desperate, you are, you could ask local supermarkets, butchers and green grocers for any stuff they’re wanting to throw out. You may get some gross stuff but just discard it yourself. You stand a high chance of getting some stuff that’s still fine. It just may be on or slightly past the “Sell By” date.

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Watch Your Utility Bills

Water and electric bills can be vastly reduced with some thought and effort. Try some of these ideas to lower your utility costs.

Keep an Exhaustive Spending Journal for a Month

It sounds tiresome but do it. Write down every little thing you buy, even if it only costs 25 cents. At the end of the month, scrutinize that journal. Be honest with yourself and differentiate clearly between what you need and what you just want. You might find you’re spending extra money on coffee, lunches out, snacks and other such items that can be easily eliminated. It’s a healthy and surprising exercise. Try it!

Shop Around for the Best Insurance Rates

Even if it’s only $10 cheaper per month, that’s $120 extra per year! Compare auto insurance rates here and homeowners insurance rates here.

Reviewed November 2022

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