One of the misconceptions about living on tight finances is that you have to cut your family’s lifestyle to just the basics only.

It’s fair to say there are times when actual spending needs to be cut to bare minimum. I particularly noticed that during my single parent years. Those who are living on tight finances often feel like they are constantly chasing paychecks or unemployment checks against incoming bills, groceries and kids’ expenses with no relief in sight.

But limited access to funds does not necessarily mean your family’s lifestyle has to be limited to bare essentials. The approach I work with is to be resourceful on how your family pays for everything.

You can often find ways to afford things that you really want to do, or that every other family does. The tactics include scale your expectations down, save up for bigger expenses, seek financial assistance for needs that can be helped in that way, direct birthday and Christmas gift ideas toward things you otherwise would spend cash on, and do things in a way that don’t cost as much money.

For example, there’s nothing wrong with spending some money on candy at Easter to keep the kids (or perhaps yourself) happy.

I could say the same thing about spending money on prom dresses, birthday parties, travel, or even my pretty kitchen dishes. While the picture at right shows a birthday party table setting, we really do use these dishes every day. I started buying the pattern when it was active, but it is now retired and the second-hand prices are on the increase.

The problem results when you don’t pay attention to how much overall money you are spending as compared to your total income and other available resources. There is little room for financial error on a tight budget, and overspending will compound the problem when the next round of bills are due.

That’s why I discuss how to add extras to family life with as little cash spent as possible.

I don’t live on “basics only,” and I don’t expect my readers too, either.

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