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5 Budgeting Hacks for Lower-Income Families

By Diane Amato

Published July 10, 2023 • 3 Min Read

When money is tight, the little things you do can make a big difference. These hacks can help you save some cash and ease the strain on your finances.

1. Build a (realistic) budget

Creating a budget can feel tedious, but it’s a crucial way to manage your money. When you create your budget, it’s essential to track expenses (ideally over a month) to see where your money is going. It can be an eye-opening experience and reveal quick wins to help save cash.

2. Make your own meals

The prevalence of food delivery services means it’s easy to order whatever food you’re craving without even leaving the house. But take-out costs can really add up, especially when you factor in driver tips and the markups many restaurants apply to their dine-out prices.

If you’re considering ordering in or dining out, first look through your fridge, freezer and pantry to make something from what you have on hand. Will the meal be restaurant-quality? Maybe not. But it may be significantly cheaper.

3. Embrace DIY projects

You don’t need to be super handy to do more household tasks yourself. Online tutorials can show you how to make your own cleaners, for instance, which may save you a lot of cash. Changing your car’s oil and washing it at home are also simple tasks cheaper than paying someone else to do them. Feeling a little more ambitious? Cleaning out your gutters, staining your deck or re-caulking your tub are great DIY projects to help keep more money in your bank account.

4. Review your transportation costs

Catching a ride share or a taxi to get across town is convenient, but it’s also one of the most expensive ways to get around. Taking public transit, walking or biking from point A to point B can save you significant cash. If you do need a lift, consider sharing a ride with others so you can split the costs instead of paying the full fare.

5. Find free or cheap family entertainment

If you’re a parent, you’re responsible for the entertainment, growth and education of your children. While you might find it easier to cut back on your own extras, it’s tough to make that decision on behalf of your children.

One key is finding free or low-cost ways to keep your family entertained. Consider matinee motives instead of prime-time showings. Host home-based birthday parties with DIY games, and lean into your creativity instead of your credit card. There are also free or low-cost attractions in most towns and cities across Canada — whether it’s a museum, park, fair or farmer’s market, it’s easy to find cheap fun!

Living on a less can be challenging, particularly during high inflation. But by being organized, creative and resourceful, you can live a full life while living within your means.

Looking for an easy way to build a budget? Check out Nomi Budget in your RBC online banking.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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