How to Budget When You Have No Money

Being strapped for cash can seem like the end of the world. First off, it means that you probably don’t have a whole lot of money to use for fun, for your own personal enjoyment, and that’s never a good thing. Much worse, you might find yourself swimming in credit card debt with a ruined credit score as an added black eye.

But it’s not too late to turn things around. In fact, it’s never too late to get your financial life under control.

Sure, it’s hard work, especially if your debts are piling up, but it is possible – even if you’re really struggling, even if you’re broke. Yep, that’s right: you can learn to budget effectively and efficiently even if you’re broke.

And that’s why we put together the little list below. Struggling with debt? Suffering from a lack of cash? Then start budgeting (and stick to it!) with the ten steps that we discuss in greater detail below.


Do these things and you can achieve your financial goals.

1. Focus On Immediate Expenses First

When you are struggling with money, it is essential that you put your most important expenses first and foremost in your budget. For instance, if your biggest and most important expense is your rent, then you should take care of that first. Most of the time you can pay your other bills (such as phone, cable, electric, and gas) a little late without being charged a late fee.

The point here is to take care of your absolutely essential expenses first and then worry about your other ones afterwards.

2. Review Your Credit Card Payments

Making only minimum payments on your credit cards can have disastrous effects, especially on your credit score. At the same time, not making your payments at all is even worse. It hits your credit score even harder while adding late penalties and increased interest to the overall amount that you need to pay back.

Making at least your minimum credit card payments should be a priority. Even though it’s not as ideal as paying them off more quickly, it will protect you from late fees acquired from missed payments.

3. Prioritize Your Bills

As mentioned above, prioritizing your bills is an essential step to budgeting when you don’t have any money. Review all of your bills and find out the order in which they must be paid. Use this information to set up a monthly bill payment schedule.

Be honest with yourself when you’re prioritizing your bills. If there is a payment that you know in your heart you won’t be able to make on time, call the company and discuss this. Ask if there is any way that you can make partial payments on the bill until you have better control of your finances. Though it won’t always have positive results, honesty certainly does go a long way.

4. Put Your Savings on Hold

Having a solid savings account (most people recommend stashing ten percent of your income into savings) is undeniably important. However, it just doesn’t make sense to put this ten percent away if you are living paycheck to paycheck.

If there are bills and expenses that you just don’t have the money to take care of, use the ten percent that would otherwise go into savings for them instead.

5. Review Your Spending

An essential part of budgeting is understanding how you are spending your money. This can be tricky. A great way to do it is by using an online budgeting resource like

Such a resource will help you categorize your spending, so that you know which expenses your money is going towards, thus allowing you to make adjustments as needed.

6. Negotiate Credit Card Interest Rates

Those with relatively good credit can oftentimes contact their credit card companies and negotiate a lower interest rate. This is an excellent plan of attack if you’re struggling to make your monthly payments.

Not all companies are going to give you a lowered interest rate. But, heck, if you don’t ask, you won’t know for sure. Some are willing to.

7. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

This is perhaps one of the most widely related budgeting tips of all. Eliminating your unnecessary expenses is essential when you don’t have any money. Cut back on the things that you don’t need: Starbucks lattes, trips to the movie theater, or nights out at the bar. Anything that isn’t necessary can be cut.

8. Keep Track of Your Budget

Along with using an online budgeting resource, it can also be helpful to keep track of the money that you are spending by hand. In a budget journal, record each of your purchases. Separate these into different categories.

After a month, you will know where your money needs to go (and where it doesn’t), and you’ll be able to set up a solid budget plan to stick to in the months ahead.

9. Adjust Your Spending as Needed

Budgeting is a never-ending process. It’s not something that should be set in stone. You should constantly be tweaking your budget as needed. Simply put, be prepared to make changes as necessary.

Look at your budget each month and find the places where you can save more money. Or take note of places where you are skimping and where more money could be better spent.

10. Make More Money

Of course, the simple answer to money problems is always to make more money. Yet it is also one of the most difficult things to do. However, when you’re just not earning enough to cover your budget, then there is little else to do.

Try to see if you can find work that pays more. Ask your boss if you can work overtime. Think about getting an extra part-time job. Do whatever you can to make the extra cash that you need to continue scraping by.


Being short on cash sucks. There is no way to describe it. Scraping by is one of the least pleasurable things in life but it needs to be done when you’re broke.

The above tips will help you scrape by with the least amount of negative consequences. If you work hard and really stick to a solid budget plan, you can get your financial life back on track even if your cash supply is tight.

Solid money management skills are essential to financial stability.

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