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How to Budget on Minimum Wage: 5 Helpful Tips & Tricks

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If you’re receiving a minimum wage salary, you may think there’s no way to budget properly. With inflation on the rise, every penny has to count, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to sit down and hammer out a budget. But don’t worry—Power Finance Texas is here to help with some tips and tricks on how to budget on minimum wage.

A Minimum Wage Budget

The United States saw record inflation in 2022, especially regarding gas prices, and the minimum wage hasn’t matched the rise. With a typical 40-hour work week at the Texas (and federal) minimum wage of $7.25, you’re making $15,080 in a single year.

This income level can be daunting when you’re trying to plan a month-to-month budget, especially if you’re providing for a family. Only two people at that rate puts you below the federal poverty level in 2022. It’s times like this when budgeting really counts.

Our 5 Tips for Budgeting on Minimum Wage

Unfortunately, the minimum wage doesn’t give you much leeway when putting food on the table and paying off your bills. Use these tips to help you master your money and take control of your finances.

1. Don’t Be Afraid of Your Income

It might seem silly, but your income and spending is nothing to be intimidated by. If you’re budgeting on minimum wage, you don’t need to be scared or ashamed. Don’t be afraid to look your budget right in the eye and see it for what it is. Once you’re open and honest with yourself, you can properly look at what you need to do.

Write down your current monthly take-home income, and then look through all of your expenses. Pull up your receipts or online banking, and look at your average monthly expenditures. This step will not only give you a practical look at your spending habits, but it’ll also help you prepare for future expenses.

Putting everything in front of you will help you discover where your money is currently going.

2. Make a List

When you’re figuring out how to budget with a minimum wage, it’s important to know what you’re actually budgeting for. Sit down and make a list—write down every important spending category. Here are some starting ideas.

Groceries

This one might feel obvious, but your food needs take a substantial portion of your budget, and you need to account for them. It’s important not to look the other way when it comes to taking care of your nutritional needs.

Housing

Don’t forget to list your monthly rent or mortgage payments. Be aware of the future potential for rising costs, too. Prices are on the rise, and the last thing you need is to be suddenly caught unawares when your rent goes up.

Transportation

Transportation is a mixed bag for budgeting; keeping that in mind is important. If you drive a car, remember that the cost of gas fluctuates daily.

Not to mention, vehicles need work from time to time—it’s a certainty, so it’s much better to be prepared than to be surprised and scrambling. Factor in regular maintenance like oil changes, and don’t forget transportation alternatives if your vehicle breaks down.

You’ll need to budget for the bus ticket if you take the bus. However, don’t neglect a plan B in case the buses are down for some reason. Look into the costs of an Uber or Lyft ahead of time in order to properly budget.

Medical Costs

This category is critical if you live with children. Plenty of things can go wrong, and the last thing someone needs is to be caught off guard without the money to put towards emergency costs.

If you live alone as an adult, it’s still smart to have money set aside for unexpected medical expenses.

woman making a budget plan3. Organize Your List

Once you have your list in place, figure out what you need to prioritize. Whether you put numbers next to each one or list them from most to least important—determine what needs to come first and go from there.

Organizing your list will help you sit down and take an analytical look at your expenses. Don’t be afraid to put thought into where you place each item. Deciding the importance of each item will help you deduce how to divide your funds properly.

4. Properly Divide Your Funds

Once you’ve organized your list based on importance, it’ll be easier to figure out where to put your money first. Start by determining where your money goes on a day-to-day basis.

After paying your bills, determine how much money you have left for savings and recreation. If you’re not careful, it can be easy to neglect your savings entirely and spend too much on leisure—but both are important in different ways.

Holidays, birthdays, and vacations will become much less stressful if you plan for them in advance and aren’t scrambling to provide at the last minute. It’s important to be aware of your spending habits and expectations to avoid going overboard and feeling like you’re struggling.

Empower your budgeting journey now. Apply for a loan to gain the ability to manage your money.

5. Take Food Preparation Seriously

It’s easy to give in to the temptation to eat out and splurge on meals. Good food can be comforting, so you want to be careful not to slip into a cycle of getting anxious about finances and overspending on dinner as a coping mechanism. Plus, you don’t need to spend a lot in order to have a good meal.

Freezer Meals/TV Dinners

There’s no need to be ashamed about eating TV dinners each night. Not only are these dishes affordable, but they are easy to make quickly, and healthy options are usually available. It’s easy to find frozen meals at local supermarkets, and they’ll often have deals.

Canned Food

If money is tight, it might be smart to stock up on canned food for a while, as it’s cheap and easy to cook. You can alleviate some of the pressure in other areas by benefiting from a canned food drive or food bank in your area.

Prep Ahead of Time

If you don’t mind reheating meals, pick a few favorites, prepare them, and then freeze them in individual containers to save time and money. This sort of planning enables you to make the most of every ingredient you purchase as well as minimize food waste and the “I have nothing to eat,” mindset.

Let Power Finance Texas Help

Everybody needs a little extra help from time to time. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t cover everything you need, let us help. Power Finance Texas can provide on-the-spot loans—all you need is:

  • A Texas driver’s license
  • A phone number
  • A checking account
  • A job

You don’t need to take out a large loan to stabilize your financial situation. However, a small one might be incredibly helpful, and Power Finance Texas is here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us now!