Living On A Tight Budget – Debt Free Living- Part 3

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Most people have to deal with a tight budget at times. Here are some ideas about how to make living on a tight budget easier from part 3 of the Debt Free Living interview about Living On A Tight Budget.
Living On A Tight Budget - Debt Free Living

Debt Free Living – Living On A Tight Budget

Hello everyone! If you’ve read Debt Free Living and Debt Free Living-God Provides, you know that I was recently interviewed about debt free living and how living without debt relates to my faith. Here is the final part, my answer to the top lessons I would give anyone who is dealing with a tight budget.


Interviewer: What are the top lessons you would give a family or even a single person who is living on a tight budget?

    • Stop spending.
    • Don’t think that using a credit card or getting a loan will make it better. Going into more debt will not help you get out of debt.
    • Get rid of your pride. You may have to shop at garage sales for a while. You may not be able to have your kids in sports and you might have to say no to friends when they want you to go to an expensive restaurant. Pride is a sin. God didn’t kick the angels out of heaven because they murdered someone or were doing drugs, drinking or smoking but for pride.
    • Stop worrying about what others think or whether or not you are making a good impression. We constantly tell our kids not to give in to peer pressure but we do it all the time. We Christians can be especially bad about worrying what other Christians are going to think of us. That is the same as when your kids worrying about their peers.

  • Cut back on everything. You can save 50% on your grocery bill before you even go to the grocery store by simply exercising good portion control with your food. It is better for you, too. Go from a 30 minute shower to a 5 minute shower. Not only will you save on utilities, but your skin will thank you. I know people who have lost their jobs and are sponging off of relatives but yet they still get their kids cell phones. This is not cutting back on spending.
  • This should be number one: tithe. When others are panicking about their 401k’s or about what their stocks are doing, I don’t have a worry in the world. I have invested my money in Someone who has promised that no matter what happens in the world, including with finances, I and my children will be fed and taken care of. He has demonstrated His faithfulness over and over. To me, my tithe is the best savings a person can have.
  • The real test of a person’s character occurs during hard times. Keep your integrity, be responsible, be trustworthy and honorable whether your situation is your fault or not, whether it is fair or unfair. Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

    I once received a notice of foreclosure on my house. I had 2 weeks to come up with $35,000 and I couldn’t sell my house. I didn’t have $35. I wasn’t sure what to do. If I lost my house, my kids and I would literally be out on the streets. After a few moments of panic, I prayed and God told me what to do. One of the first things I did was to call the banker and tell him I wanted to start up our old business, which I knew nothing about and had no money for supplies, no customers and a limited market.

    What loan officer do you think would say, “That’s great– forget the foreclosure and you don’t even need to make a payment until your business is up and running well”? None that I know of, but that is exactly what he said. We had banked there for a while and, because of that, he knew I always paid my bills (the foreclosure was because of my husband’s debts he incurred when we were separated). The loan officer said “Jill, I know you and trust you to pay so I’m not worried.”

    Everything God tells us to do is for a good reason and it is usually for our good. He wants us to have a good name because He knows at times when things hang in the balance, a person’s good name can tip the scale in the right direction.

  • Don’t decide you are going to change your ways and then expect God to suddenly produce a miracle and make all of your debt go away. God loves you, but He is also a just God. He expects you to pull your weight and if you spent 5 years carelessly spending, you may have to work extra long and hard for 5 years to get yourself out of your mess.

    It would be like telling my teenage son to clean his room. After a month goes by, he is out of clean clothes, can’t find anything and has been grounded by me for failing to do what I told him to do. He tells me how sorry he is, insists he’ll never do it again and repents all over the place, but he still has to clean his room, which is such a big mess it is going to take twice as much work.

    I forgive, but he is perfectly capable of cleaning it himself, so he has to clean up his own mess.


Here’s something to think about:

In Matthew 6:24, the Bible says “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” We always think that this verse relates to having lots or money, that it only concerns the wealthy or those seeking wealth, but it can pertain to the poor and those in debt, too.

Be careful. What controls your waking thoughts? God or money? What do you seek after more? God or a way to pay your debts? What do you talk about more with your family? God or how the bills are piling up “in these hard economic times“? Do you spend all of your money eating out, playing a game of golf, buying your kids sports uniforms and dance lessons and having your nails done or do you first tithe?

I have found most people give their money to whoever or whatever has their heart and soul. I don’t say these things to condemn you but to get you thinking, “Do I have things mixed up? Can I do something differently? Do I need to change something, even if it is something small?”

We guard our families in so many areas. Don’t let Satan sneak in the back door with this and destroy you, your family and your testimony.

Read Part 1 – Debt Free Living

Read part 2- Debt Free Living-God Provides


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Click here to get the Dining On A Dime Cookbook, with tasty recipes and great tips to make your life easier and save you money!



  1. Kim Shavatt says

    This is exactly what I needed to hear at this moment in time. It appears that God is speaking through you directly to me. I appreciate the tough love approach. Thanks so much!

  2. says

    I’m home sick and I have deleleted all your emails for the last 6 months but today I opened it up. I’m a bible based Christian and fighting my flesh in this battle to get out of dedt. I read all 3 parts of your letter and it really made me take notice again!! It’s not in me but in him that we can do all things. Thank you and God bless your ministry!

    • says

      Ken you sound like you are on the right track. I always say when you get to the point of seeing there is a problem you are 50% there. It may not be easy all the way but trust me God will pull you up by the boot straps if you are serious and it sounds like you are. Interesting how He sometimes has to get us flat on our back (you said you were sick today) before we will hear what He is trying to tell us and help us with.

      I got tickled at the part about deleting our emails. I don’t consider any thing a coincidence, that the one e mail you opened happened to be the one you needed. Let’s face it it could have been on what kind of diapers to use instead. :) :) Anyway just holler if you have any questions and you might (you don’t have to) check out more of the web site because we do have a lot on how to get out of debt and are adding more each day.

  3. Mrs.B says

    I haven’t “deleted all your emails” instead I have spend time reading your emails. It seems when I look back at my life, my God has been there every step of the way. I wonder why we sometimes forget that? When things are going great it seems we have the feelings that we are in more control of our life, and we can do all things. Until something happens. I became suddenly single in 1992, when my husband passed away, with one son just starting college and an eight year old son still at home. We always rented the farm that we lived on, and that also left me with more bills and not only myself to now care for, but my sons. Jobs were few and far between, but there always seemed to be money to keep bills paid. I could not have done it alone, I could not have lived in the childhood that I had, I could not have gone through open heart surgery, and the many surgeries that were to follow, nor the recovery, if it were not for a “Higher Power”……My God has stood by for all my years that I have been on this earth and HE will NO DOUBT stand with me for those years that I have left on this earth. I am still single and the money and job I have isn’t the greatest, yet it has always gotten me through the worst of times, and I could help my kids if need be. For what is money, more than most could ever dream of having or ever seeing, in a life-time. Will it help when we pass from this earth, will it “buy” us a way into to Heaven? When one looks at the Tabloid headlines, we can well see what money does.
    It seems when I become disappointed, and depressed, that is when I have an uncanny feeling that I need to seek my GOD. Many things still go wrong, I still get depressed and still am disappointed with the job that I have, still disappointed where I am living and the amount that I have to pay each month plus all the other bills that go with life. But when it gets really bad and I get very down, when I pick up HIS Bible and read all the words that I have read for all these years… seems like maybe, I can make it one more month.

  4. Lahnaya says

    Your site is great ! We are really enjoying it. We have a large family, 8 kids( 5 still home), and we live by the principles you teach. We don`t have cable, we buy used cars, we shop at thrift stores and garage sales, and we buy in bulk. I can count my trips to a regular supermarket over the year on one hand. We have two large gardens, and everyone helps. We hang our clothes, use a wringer washer(less water, and electricity), and don`t think our kids need to keep up with the latest style or toy fad. Our kids do not think they are deprived, in acuality they recognise the wisdom in how we live and have a great work ethic and are responsible with there money(that they earn)It is wonderful to see there are other like minded people out there. We also live on one income, I stay home. It can be done.

  5. wanda says

    How could I have been so blind..your words I think could not have come to me at a better time..The scripture you chose spoke volumes to me today. I have been struggling with our finances for probably 20 years…I get frugal then I loose track of it..and I think it is every time we get an increase in $ we think we should spend it..which has kept us in dept and struggling all our married life..but the part you say God is a just God and that you don’t just get out of debt because you decide one day to serve God, that it is over time..he proved this to me a long time ago and reading your posts on here today made me remember something..When I was 17 I got pregnant with my first daughter..her dad and I got married trying to do the right thing..that ended after 1.5 years..I was a divorced girl at the age of 19 and a single mother..but my child was my priority..I had a great support system but I wanted to make it on my own. I managed to get into an apartment that was for low income but they could only give a certain amount of residents the low based rent rate and i was not one of them. I was paying 272.00 a month and my income was only $480 a month.. About a year after we moved in there things were getting really tough money wise. I just kept thinking I need to get another job to help pay the bills and support my daughter but I already didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to with her..about that same time we started going to church, after a while I gave my heart to Jesus worries seemed to just be lighter and I managed to stay afloat so I didn’t take on a 2nd job..then after about 3 months from the time I gave my heart to Jesus I had come home from work and there was a note on my door..It was from my apartment complex manager..inside it said your monthly rent had been reduced from 272.00 to 72.00 a month..I thought this had to be wrong so I called her and she assured me it was right..typically to get this someone in the complex had to move out so someone else could be eligible..nobody had moved I ask how this could be true..she said she didn’t know but it came down from headquarters…well I knew right then who it was from..God..I thanked him right then and there..he did always provide for me and my daughter..and you know over the years he has always taken care of us through the worst times and I thank him for every time. I haven’t been as dedicated as I should be..and for that reason we have seen some very hard times.. I am at a point in my life where I have been seeking knowledge and meaning..I am married now to the same man for 20 years and in total we have 6 kids.. he is the love of my life and my best friend..I know God made him for me..we are total opposites but couldn’t be better for one another..we have weaknesses though and I can see now that this is one of them..we seem to have trouble staying committed to things in our life and one of them is time..if we have to give of our time we struggle to keep committed to it.. Shame on us.. Your words have really awakened me..I know God was working through you to touch us all here today..I hope God can work through me or someone or just speaks to my husband to see this too!!! Thank you!

  6. Carol Maclean says

    I just discovered your website and it’s very inspiring.
    I have always believed in God, but when my husband lost
    his job and then developed a very bad illness I was terrified. I woke up each day terrified wondering if he was going to make it. This went on for a week. Finally I asked Jesus to help me though this time. The next day I woke up and I felt fine. My husband was still sick, but I knew everything would be O.K. The lord is there for us. My husband has recovered and I thank God every day.

  7. Elizabeth says

    I love your website, I’m not really sure how I came upon it, (yes I do). Tithing has been weighing heavy on my mind today. I listened to Chip Ingram about tithing on the way to work and that made me do some serious thinking. Thanks

    • says

      You are welcome Elizabeth. Loved it when you said you didn’t know how you came upon it and then said “yes I do”. God has a way of gently pushing us in the right direction which sometimes I am in awe of and other times I will say “Oh please no – do I have too?”. Just like our kids do us sometimes but there is always one thing I know and that is God loves me so much and only asks me to do things that are for my best.
      Be sure to holler if you have any questions.

  8. Jenny Oram-Weaver says

    Hello Jill and Tawra and all your lovely readers. I have been with “Living on a Dime” for the past four years and wouldn’t miss any of your emails – I look forward to every one. I have to say I have learned so much from you – even me, a nearly 65 year old grandma! Shows you are never too old to learn. I have been through very hard times during my 46 years of marriage – with three sons so I have always had to be “thrifty”. We have been through ups and downs in our life – as everyone else of course. For ten years we ran a very successful business and all was well until 2010 when the banks called in lots of mortgages and loans due to the terrible financial state of the United Kingdom and sadly we were victims of this and we lost a lot of money – and our house eventually. BUT as soon as this happened I logged on to this wonderful site and as I say have been an keen and loyal fan and just knowing I was not alone was a great comfort to me, even far across the pond! IF ONLY I could have lived as frugally through the good years as we do now, but it was a steep learning curve, some headaches, lots of frights but we are still here and doing well. Jill can I please share a little tip I have found to be super duper effective in trying to keep track of housekeeping money? Believe me this really works! PLEASE ditch as soon as possible credit cards. These can be used effectively if you pay back before the end of the month and you don’t have any interest but if you can do that you don’t really need my lifesaver of a tip, so this is for anyone who wants to keep a sharp hold on their money as see where it really goes. I get my housekeeping money out of the bank every Monday IN CASH. I have a small cashbox and I put my allowance for food, detergents, etc. everything indeed, except petrol, or as you call it “gas”. Once you spend CASH you get to understand money. When you pass over a credit card this never seems “real money” – you are never quite sure how much is left in the bank and the extra pounds – dollars – don’t really seem “real”. BUT WHEN YOU hand over cash you think twice. I make a note, keeping receipts of everything I buy so that when I get home I can jot down how much I spend each time I go to the shops. Believe me when you have cash in your pocket and you know if has to last to the end of the week you are far less liable to put those extra biscuits or crackers into the basket. I don’t see “bargain” packs of meat that “will come in handy for a meal sometime” – you become aware that that those notes and coins HAVE TO LAST to the end of the week so you automatically economise. This new way of paying only by cash takes a bit of practice but please try it and see how you will not overspend – and maybe even save a bit of money. At the end of the week, the night before I go to the bank for my next cash allowance I add up the money I have left and this goes into a little box – extra savings that have only taken a little effort to accrue. The more you practice this cash only system the better you will get believe me and the more money you will save because you are using “real money”. Last week I watched as a young girl in front of me paid £119 – about $100 dollars for a pair of boots in the sale. As the girl handed over her credit card her friend said “I bet you don’t wear them you have loads at home already” HAD this shopper handed over six crisp £20 notes – real folding stuff – I am sure she wouldn’t have been so reckless – after all no “money” changed hands and this way it just does not seem real at all. Clearly she didn’t NEED the boots, she has some at home, and anyway we are lucky to have an Indian Summer here in England. I would really love to hear how other Living on a Dime fans get on trying this way – just give it a go. Over only two weeks I have “saved” £35!! and this is going towards unexpected expenses – and we all know about them! Thank you Living on a Dime for inspiring and supporting your readers – you really are wonderfully helful. Please keep up all your good and very useful advice. Kindest wishes from here in England! Jenny Oram.

    • says

      Thanks for the great post Jenny. I do love hearing from our readers from either side of the pond. :) I totally agree with all that you said and have practiced it myself for years. Just allow yourself a certain amount of cash to carry each day or week and once it is gone it is gone. I know what you are saying about people not realizing what they are spending when they use credit cards. If I do use my credit card I pay mine off and once years ago I used it to buy several things. I swiped my card the gal handed me my receipt and out the door I went. Got home, unloaded everything and it wasn’t until awhile later I realized I didn’t even know how much I had spent that day. I had enough control over my money it didn’t matter much for me but it made me understand more how so many people get themselves in debt before they even realize it and what is even worse they have no clue how much in debt they are until it is almost too late. You are so right.
      Years ago people only paid cash for almost everything and they knew exactly where every penny went. What I don’t understand is why even chance it and use a credit card. If you have the cash to buy something then buy it. If you don’t have the cash to buy something you shouldn’t be buying it so a credit card should not even fit in the equation. Thanks again for a great tip and reminder.

  9. Sheila McDaniel says

    I so appreciate your Christian way of thinking & applying it to your lifestyle. As a Christian also, many times I’ve worried over a financial problem, then realized that with a simple prayer and turning it over to God, He will solve it. The older I get, the more I remember how many times He has provided abundtly for us. Please keep up the good work.

  10. Mary Jane says

    Years ago, when our debt was high, and our savings low, tithing seemed out of reach. We are a one income family and Christians, so there was always discomfort when we got to the place where there was little or no tithing. I prayed about the situation, because my husband was less trusting about giving when we had so much debt, and money was so tight. I didn’t want to disobey or stress him, but I always wanted to be obedient to the New Testament admonition to give cheerfully. The Lord emphasized the “giving cheerfully” to me, as I prayed. I discussed with my husband if we could give an amount that was less than tithe, but would be a regular commitment. He agreed. I decided that once we gave regularly, and with trust, that I would gradually (over months, or even years) increase the amount of our giving by increments, until the full tithe was in. I asked God to provide for our needs, and to work on my husband’s attitude. God blessed this approach, changed my husband’s attitude, grew our faith, and worked with us to get out of debt, and fully tithe. He also helped us to have the means to give in many other areas of Christian work. There were times when we were tempted to hold back a little, but when we trusted God first, He multiplied our resources. I was also able to honor my husband’s wishes and avoid strife, and still obey God. It is so true when you say, Jill, that the best savings account you ever had was to tithe.

    • says

      What you say is so true Mary Jane. Bottom line the exact amount that we give is not as important as the attitude that we give it in. We are suppose to give cheerfully and generously. You may as well not give if you don’t do it with the right attitude. The generously is what I had trouble with. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give generously but I just didn’t have it to give. I would hear about a need in the church or something or a need someone had but I couldn’t fulfill it. I then learned to start praying that if I was suppose to give to help in this area or that would God give me extra for it. It has been almost (for lack of better word) creepy how the exact amount I was to use would show up. If it doesn’t then I know I wasn’t responsible to give in that situation. What is exciting is once you are debt free and start handling your money properly and God can trust you, it is so much fun to see God sending more money your way to use for certain things for others and the church.

    • patty says

      The Bible says we are to pay God the FIRST 10% of our earnings. As long as we do that, He is faithful and our money has NEVER run out before the month. I challenge everyone to try this. God is faithful, and so must we be.

  11. Bette says

    Love your website, I just came upon it today. Even though I’m a Christian, sometimes money has a hold on me, not so much debt, but retirement, which is about 10 years away. The money experts say you need $$$$$, but I don’t think so, anyway as you say, God will do His part if we do our part. God is control, I’m not.

    It’s funny, I know people who make so much more money than I do, yet I save most of my paycheck, while they’re in debt trying to impress all the “they’s”. The few investments I have are very conservative. I have no debt and live a very frugal lifestyle. I try to stretch my paycheque in a way that makes everyone a winner.

    For example, I don’t drive, but I’ll pay someone gas money if they’re going to the same place. We’re not lonely on the trip, it’s usually shorter than by bus, and it’s cheaper for both of us. I provide for either a coffee stop, or I’ll pack a lunch for us. It’s wonderful.

    I have a very tough attitude towards debt, even “good” debt. It’s still debt, pay it off! I don’t want the bank or other lender to have money that could be used in better ways — helping other people.


  12. K says

    I just can’t fathom giving money away and not using that money to pay down the debt?!?! I understand giving time/volunteering but not wasting money.

    • says

      Hummm K. Don’t know why you couldn’t do both. I paid off all my debt including my mortgage in 5 years and my income most of the time was less then someone working for minimum wage. Granted I had to give up a few things I maybe “wanted” but even doing that I still had more than the people I was giving my money to. I never consider helping others wasting my money. Wasting money is when I buy coffee, pop or special juices, have a phone that I use only for me to talk, text, facebook or play games on, owning a house or car that is way more then I really need which is what most people do. I even have people say I can’t find one more thing to give up – hummm how about the computer and internet you are using to email me on. They don’t pay down their debt most of the time because they don’t want to give up buying what they want or what gives them pleasure not because they are giving money to those in need.
      All I can say is I would not have survived at some points in my life if people hadn’t been willing to share with me even if it meant taking a little longer to pay off their debt. I didn’t need their time I needed money for food.

  13. Vickie says

    Barely opened your site and know you are God sent and so needed as a reminder that God has provided! Hubby retired 2 months ago and have HUGE concerns, debt is a hanging over my head and weighing me down, problem, having other material things is making me a bit anxious and keeping up with the Jones has been on my heart. I find this site that reminds me debt free is free indeed, to stop worrying about making a good impression on folks around me, God’s opinion is the only one I need to concern myself with, realizing that also makes me free indeed. God has provided and it is good, oh so good! So my pay as you go cell phone that cost me less than $10 per month and while not an Iphone that does whatever, it is totally adequate and keeps me in touch when I am away from home. My oh so in need of a remodel 1982 kitchen is still putting out 3 meals per day and keeping my food cold and stored for future use, my 9 year old car doesn’t miss a beat, I am clothed nicely, live in a climate controlled house, pay my bills but best of all surrounded by the blessing of a Father that loves His children, 3 birthed children, 3 God given “in loves”, and 5 grandchildren. One of those sweet “in-loves” made, yep, made with his own hands, a dining room table as a gift to me for Christmas! We are blessed beyond measure! We may be pinching pennies but we are living the life as one of HIS children and it just doesn’t get better than that! Can’t wait to search your site to help us on this journey! Thanks so much!

  14. Mary Jane says

    I was re-reading this post again this morning, and thought about the lady who is tempted to be concerned about retirement. We are 6 years out from that and debt free, but there is a lot of pressure from people who tell us that we won’t have enough to survive on. We have some savings, a small company pension, a paid off house, and 2 garden spots. Normally, retirement doesn’t bother me, but the pressure (even from Christian friends) has been enormous. One day recently, the Lord brought to our attention, the opportunity to give to a charity (on a monthly basis) that meets the needs of the truly poor rural senior citizens of Russia. These are Jewish country folk, and live on the equivalent of $15.00 per month as their gov’t pension. No, it isn’t even close to being sufficient, as most have to choose between heating fuel or a meager meal, and medicine is pretty much out of the question. It was like the Lord was saying, “Are you looking for a real investment for your retirement? Here is a place to put a bit of cash every month. I will multiply it from here.” Funny, how the vague anxiety of our own retirement has largely vanished since we chose to do this.

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