How to Budget Money on a Low Income [Guide for College Students and Fresh Grads]

Let’s be honest. Sticking to a budget is NOT easy or fun – especially if you’re a college student or fresh graduate on a low income. But having a budget is one of the best ways to pull yourself out of a poor financial situation and set yourself up for financial security down the line. 

Well… it can be. But only if you know how to develop a realistic budget for yourself. Do you know how to do that? If you’re currently shaking your head thinking “NO”, don’t worry. We got you!

In this blog post, we’re gonna teach you how to budget money on a low income by sharing our favorite budgeting strategies that go beyond the common advice you may be used to (e.g. “just start eating at home”). 

But before we get into those budgeting strategies, let’s have a quick chat about why you and most people tend to find sticking to a budget to be incredibly hard.  

Why Is Budgeting Hard (Even for People With High Income)?

You’re not alone. Even people with high income can sometimes find it difficult to stay on top of their finances and make ends meet. According to a recent survey, 36% of people making over $100,000 a year live paycheck to paycheck.  

How is that even possible? Well, there are definitely external factors, like rising costs due to inflation. But, for many people, things like a lack of financial literacy and a poor money mindset play a role. And those two things can make budgeting hard no matter how much money you make. 

On top of that, most budgeting advice sets you up to fail. 

The problem with most budgeting advice 

Most of the budgeting advice out there tends to focus too much on things like cutting back on coffee or eating out. But small changes like that are not going to make a big enough difference overall. 

Most budgeting advice also doesn’t take into account the emotional component of money. For example, if you’re used to using shopping as a way to cope with stress, simply telling yourself to stop spending isn’t going to work.

So, you need a budget that works for your lifestyle AND doesn’t make you feel like you’re constantly depriving yourself AND helps you get out of the low-income bracket.

To help you get started, we’ve put together 7 of the best low-income budgeting strategies.

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