How to Manage Your Money on a Slim Income

There are thousands of reasons you could be living on a really slim income. Maybe you and your spouse are both attending school and you each have part-time jobs. Or perhaps you chose to follow your dream of being a writer, but your income is nothing to brag about. It’s really okay if you don’t make a lot of money. If you want to be better than poor, though, you have to be serious about managing your finances so one day you can worry less about money.

If you live on a low income, managing your finances well becomes more important than ever. Take these steps to be sure you are keeping as much money as possible and moving towards a better life.© chayathon2000 / Dollar Photo Club

My husband quit his job a year ago. What a year it’s been. When he quit his job, he actually didn’t have the intention of starting his own business, but a few months later he was filling out the business registration application and pretty soon he was working for himself.

All while this was happening, I was working hard on my blog, to build it up as a business and always improve my writing and content.

Our budget has been incredibly tight as we’ve pursued our dream jobs. When starting a business of your own, you should really have all your ducks in a row beforehand. That just wasn’t the case with us. We started our businesses with little to nothing to our names, and we still have little to nothing to our names. But, that’s okay, because it has made us work harder and be more grateful for what little we do have.

How to Manage Your Finances on a Slim Income

For whatever reason you are living on a low income, you need to know how to manage that money. If you deal with your money willy-nilly, it will be much harder for you to get ahead and ultimately find a way out of your situation. These are the steps you need to take to manage your money when you are living on a slim income:

Prioritize Expenses

Take out a piece of paper and write down all your expenses. Once you have them written out, go through and put the most important one first and write down others to follow. Cross out expenses that are not necessary.

The only expenses we currently have are our mortgage, utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, phones, internet, and trash), food, and gas. Nearly everything else is treated as a luxury, except for something the girls might need like diapers.

Stop Spending Money

You must go on a spending freeze if money is tight. Spending money will only jeopardize your ability to pay the bills that you just prioritized above.

We have been doing a pretty strict spending freeze over the past year. While it’s been extremely hard, it is one of the main reasons we still have some savings left.

Lower Your Expenses

Getting your high priority expenses as low as they can go will be a challenge, but you have to do it so you can save that money and pay for your other bills.

Most utilities can go lower if you work hard at it. For example, your electric bill might be low, but maybe you always forget to unplug unused chargers or turn off your computer when you aren’t working on it. Those things can save you some real cash over time.

Be sure to do this step after implementing a spending freeze. It doesn’t make any sense to lower your expenses but then continue to spend money.

Insure Yourself

You can’t afford to live without insurance. Home, auto, and health are probably the three that you need to have no matter how much money you make. If you were to have a terrible auto accident and you were without both auto and health insurance, your financial picture would only get much worse. Be sure when you are going through your expenses that insurance is listed as a priority.

Pay Off Debt

If you are drowning in debt, you will want to put this expense as a priority in the first step. Otherwise, pay the minimum each month on your loans and/or credit card debt. If you can afford to pay more, do it. It can be even harder to pay off debt when interest has been adding up all along.

We had some debt on a shed that we bought before my husband quit his job. The shed was on a no-interest financing plan for 12 months, so we had until April of this year to pay it off. Let me tell you, even though we weren’t paying interest on it, the shed was really hard to pay for each month. Any money we had to pay towards it meant that we had to spend less elsewhere.


Saving a certain amount of your paycheck should become second nature if you are not making much money. You will continue to live paycheck to paycheck until you can build up your savings. You should start by putting money into an emergency fund and then move onto saving for future purchases, such as a home or a car.

Make Extra Money

Making more money will help tremendously when you are not making much. If you have time, do a side hustle or get a part time job to help increase your income until you can reach a point where you are no longer struggling to pay bills.

If you’re on a slim budget because of a business, you might think that you can take money from the business to pay for what you need. But most businesses take time to reach a point where you should take a salary. It is smarter to continue to invest in the business than to take money for your bills.


Investing is an important tool to building wealth. You make the call how much you invest, but the sooner you start the better. Even if it is just a few cents here and there, it could add up in the long run. Check out this review of the Acorns App to see if this kind of investing makes sense in your situation. You should also take advantage of a company 401(k) match. It’s free money.

Find Ways to Give without Money

It might be easy to say, “I’m not making enough money to give or donate right now, but as soon as I am I will give a lot.” Don’t ever say that! Do what you can with what you have and always try to find a way to give back.

You don’t have to give in monetary ways to make a difference. You could volunteer or give a helping hand to a neighbor. If you are only thinking of yourself and your situation, it can make things so much harder. By reaching out to others less fortunate or in need of some company, you will see just how blessed you are.

Living on a slim income can feel like you are in a tunnel with no light in sight. But as soon as you decide to manage your money according to the above steps, you will see the light at the end. There is a better way to live, you just have to be diligent to get there.

I am not a financial professional so this should not be considered financial advice. It is for your information only.

Linked to: Frugal Friday

If you liked this post, please subscribe to my weekly newsletter or like my Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by!

Join the Humble in a Heartbeat Community!

When you join, you’ll learn how to get healthy meals on the table without compromising time, taste, or your food budget.

I will never share your information or spam you. Unsubscribe whenever you want. Powered by ConvertKit


I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. I love the encouragement of this post, Charlee! As a result of the economic decline, our family has seen our income consistently and drastically decrease over the past few years. But following advice like this has helped us not only survive but overcome our challenging situation. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I especially love your advice on giving. Too often, we focus on how difficult things are for us that we forget there are many others who have it much worse. Reaching out to them helps us remember how blessed we are and how much we do have.

    Thanks for the encouragement! Blessings to you and yours!

    • I’m so happy to hear that you and your family beat the odds and are thriving on the small income you make. Just from reading your blog, I know that you not only manage your money very well, but you also manage your resources extremely well. That’s the important thing when you cannot rely on money to get what you need. You have to depend on your creativity and your skills to get you through. Thank you for reading and for sharing your own experience, Heather!

  2. Mocksoup says:

    What in the heck is a side hustle? Hustle seems like it’s taking someone in. Maybe it’s a regional thing but to me a hustle is to earn one’s living by unethical or illegal means.

    • Haha. That’s definitely NOT what I was going for, but I can see what you mean. It’s a term that I didn’t hear until I started blogging, and it’s used by personal finance bloggers to mean a side job that you do on your own terms. You choose the hours, if you’ll work or not, and it’s just to help you earn more so you can pay off debt, invest, or increase your income. A lot of personal finance bloggers side hustle by freelance writing and many consider their blogs a side hustle. Sorry about the confusion! :/

  3. In my opinion the “making more money” side of the equation should be talked about a lot more. You can only be so frugal, at some point you run out of things to cut back in your budget. The only other thing to do is make more money, and this post is a great resource to help people to do just that.


  1. […] and have plenty of disposable income every month. I don’t care if you earn $8 per hour and have trouble paying your bills. A budget can keep anybody with an income and/or expenses in line. It is important to boss your […]

  2. […] Managing Your Money on a Slim Income […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge