Create a Bare Bones Budget

Learn how to live more frugally.

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Many people get into debt because of their lifestyle choices. As a rule of thumb, living within your means can mean a lot for your financial health. If you find yourself struggling with overwhelming credit card debt, don't ignore your debts, hoping they will magically disappear (unfortunately, they won’t.) Instead, develop a strategy to dig yourself out of debt. Start by doing what you can to cut down on your expenses.


A bare bones budget is simply a budget plan which covers only the most essential and basic necessities.

If you’re ready to accept the challenge of living a simple and debt free life, here’s how you can create your own barebones budget:

  • Sit down, and list all your current expenses
  • Determine which items are ‘needs’ and which ones are simply ‘wants’
  • Cross out the items on your ‘wants’ list. You may also consider how you can get them for less or at no cost
  • List all your necessary expenses on your budget worksheet
  • Calculate your total essential expenses. The total is the minimum budget you’ll need to survive and keep up with living expenses
  • Commit to your budget, at least until you are out of debt

Creating a bare bones budget is all about discipline. Challenge yourself to live a frugal lifestyle, and you will be surprised by how much you’ll be able to save by simply adjusting your lifestyle.

It is important to note that even when you are on a tight budget, you should be sure to set aside money for your emergency fund. Emergency savings funds can be the difference between financial stability and financial disaster. Having an emergency fund helps you avoid borrowing in case of an unexpected expense.


Below are 10 tips on how you can cut down on your expenses:

  1. Stop dining out. Pack your own lunch, and eat healthy, home-cooked meals for dinner
  2. Make your own coffee. Buying coffee every morning adds up over time. If you make your coffee at home, you might be surprised at how much you can save over a month or two
  3. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and stick to your grocery list. You can also take this one step further by growing your own food whenever possible
  4. Take advantage of coupons. There are plenty of coupons that you can find online or in your mailbox. These coupons can save you money on household supplies
  5. Cut the cable. With so many streaming services available at a lower cost, you’ll save money by switching to a less costly way to stream your favorite shows
  6. Lower your utility costs. Unplug unused appliances, and turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Wash clothes in cold water, and hang clothes on a clothesline instead of using the dryer
  7. Carpool, share a ride. Ride a bike, or walk whenever possible. This will save you money on gas, and you will get your much-needed exercise
  8. Whether it's auto insurance, house insurance, or life insurance - shop around for lower insurance plans, Many times you can get the same coverage at a lower price from a different insurance agency
  9. Take on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. Making things yourself could save you hundreds versus buying a finished product
  10. Recycle. Whether you’re recycling by hosting a garage sale or you’re turning in recyclable waste for a few extra bucks – the money can really start to add up

Falling into credit card debt can happen in the blink of an eye. However, finding a way out can take some time. Avoiding unnecessary debt is the best way to save yourself from the financially crippling impact of debt and to maintain good personal finances.

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