It’s no secret that when you choose food stamps, you’re still going to live on a tight budget. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program doesn’t provide all of the aid that is necessary to live on more than a $3 a day in some cases. A budget provides a way to control family spending and also maintains money for paying bills, saving for bigger expenses, and taking care of life’s unexpected events. This guide gives a step-by-step look at the ways that family budgets come together. Just by taking 30 minutes to fix your own budget can save you a lot of money and help you watch your spending.
1. Getting Started
The first thing you need to look at is your pay stubs. You need to know how much money is coming in. Find at least two to three months of pay stubs and determine what your average monthly income is. Write this down as “Money In:” and list your average income. Then, gather three months of bills and add up the numbers, then divide by three to get your average monthly fixed expenses that include rent, electric, phone, and insurance, etc. Write down this number as “Money Out (Bills):” and list the average expense amount. These are necessities.
2. Adding the Extras
Other expenses such as groceries, gas, education supplies, clothing, medical bills, credit card payments and other bills are other expenses but there are ways around these if worse comes to worse, you can’t pay. Gather any bills, receipts and other information to get a three-month average of what you spend on the extras. Write down this number as “Money Out (Other):” and list the average amount.
3. Cutting Down
You should be able to clearly see how close you are to your “Money In” number. You want to have at least $200 to save each month. In order to do that, you have to look for ways to save more or make more money. As for groceries, going on food stamps will cut down your budget some. You may want to look at ways to cut down your electricity bill and remove services from your phone to make it cheaper. There are also cheaper insurance plans, so consider how to make these bills cost you less. As for making more money, get your family involved in this. Older children, about the age of 15, can actually have part time after school jobs. If you don’t want to work more away from home, try finding ways to make things at home and sell online or find a night job that allows you to work from home such as online customer service jobs.
4. Set Your Limits
Write out a plan that is based on your budget for spending. What should you spend on entertainment and gas each month? How can you stretch food stamps a bit further? There are several recipe ideas and tips located on the FoodStamps.org blog, including ways to make sure that you get the most food stamps and use it wisely over the course of each month to extend your benefits a bit longer.
5. What Your Family Spends
You also have to keep a close eye on what either people in your family are spending. In some cases, you may just need to talk to family members about the new budget and asking for help in saving money. Explaining the situation to kids is important as well, as many don’t understand what food stamps are and it’s important to clear up these issues as you move into a new phase of saving instead of spending.