How to Manage on a Low Income

I have been there and done that. Isn’t that how the saying goes? A few years ago I resigned from my $40,000 a year job and moved 900 miles from home. Our family went through a lot. In fact, that first year my income dipped to just over $18,000. What a shock. I learned a few things about a low income that year.

One of the most important things I found out was that self-control is something you must cultivate, it doesn’t grow by accident. Choices are very important when you have a low income. The things you used to enjoy must be postponed or even canceled if you are to make it without having enormous debt. The big trap many low income families fall into is subsidizing income with credit cards. It seems harmless enough in the beginning. In the end, however, someone must pay it back or you lose all your credit rating. Often, bankruptcy and bad credit dash all hopes of ever coming out of the low income situation. This dooms many families to a lifetime of low income. There is hope, though.

A commitment to living below your means is the only way to emerge from that low income or to at least live without becoming a slave to someone because of your financial situation. This requires discipline.

Here are some ideas. First, make a budget that works. Second, stick to the budget. This can be hard, especially when the “outgo” is more than the “income.” Persevere even when it seems it will not work. Pay your necessities first. This is defined as your food, clothes and housing. Entertainment is not a need despite what American culture tells us. McDonald’s may be off your budget. The third thing is to stop going farther into debt. This is where you commit to live within your means, spend less than you make. Evaluate how and when you spend money and eliminate the wants until you are able to have extra. That means is you may have to defer some things until you have worked and saved for them. It may actually be more enjoyable and not taken for granted.

Throughout all this, you must develop a winning team mentality and persevere together.