Man patting the back of his baby after coping with financial stress with the money app.

Why You Need A Budget Especially When Money is Tight

by Kenneth Medford

There is no worse feeling than not having what you need. It becomes more and more difficult to look any further than your next meal. 

This may not be what you want to hear, because I know I didn’t in those days, but THIS is exactly when you want to start looking at your money differently.

When things are tight, budgeting is how you claw your way out and get back on solid ground. So, even when you don’t have money, you need to budget. I’m going to give you some tips as to how.


I’ve gone into this a bit in a previous article, but it bears repeating: you have to divide your needs from your wants. Take true stock in the things that you need to take care of then go even deeper. 

Monthly Services

In 2021, the internet is a necessity. That is not up for debate and I don’t think anyone has time for hearing anything different. Those 6 streaming services you have. . .not so much. I love music as much as the next person, but having Spotify premium, Pandora premium, and YouTube Music premium is doing too much. It’s all about self-discipline. Developing better money habits now will put you on the right track in the future. 


We all have to eat and we all deserve the most delicious of foods, but we have to include our wallet in those convos. Buying fruits and veggies that just sit in the fridge or on the counter just going bad. Though we have the best intentions, we have to do better. 

Next time you go to throw something away, make note of how much that cost and realize you are quite literally throwing money away. I started getting to the point where I don’t buy more of something until whatever I have is completely gone. It seems like such a minor thing, but you’ll notice the difference in your money and savings (which we’ll touch on later) sooner rather than later.


We all know it only takes a few seconds to scroll and check out online. You might need a new jacket or pair of jeans, but don’t get caught up in turning it into a digital shopping spree. There will be time for that later if you stick to the game plan. For now, you need to focus on resuscitating your money so you can look forward and grow. That LV belt and those 3 pairs of Uptowns isn’t going to get you there.

These are all things you need, but there’s levels to this. The goal is to get out of the place where you can only think about your next meal. NO ONE should be there. You don’t deserve to be there. Cut back now, stack your money, get at some of these credit card bills and get your life to where it should be. 


 Budgeting when you don’t have money doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t get to have anything nice. Here’s a hard truth though: the more wants you want, the longer it will take you to get to where you want to go. Just like you need to be real with your needs and what they REALLY are, you need to decide where to draw the line with your wants. 

Money Mindfulness

Determining how to narrow down your wants isn’t very fun, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Taking time to practice money mindfulness can help you identify which purchases are bringing you joy and which ones you’re okay with cutting. Paying attention to your thoughts around non-necessity purchases can help you be more money mindful with your budget.


If you want the newest Blu-rays when they drop, the newest games on day one, and the newest fire released by your favorite artist, you have to set aside the funds for it. Like everything else we’re going to touch on in this section, it will be on you and your discipline to decide if you can maintain your path towards financial wellness and get a PS5. We all need to relax and unwind and I’m with that 100%, but you can’t let that stand between you and your greater goals. 


I have several headbands from Naruto in various colors to match my clothes. Trust me, I get it. Now, consider the colored laces for your sneakers, the Beats headphones, that 5th ring (and yes, the cost is going up)/ How much do you need them? 

If they’re that important to you, you have to make sure that your money is right. Budget to make sure that your debts get the proper attention, your bills are addressed, and your refrigerator is stocked.


 This is basically a combination of all the above points and one of the biggest threats to any good budget. I blew $275 on food for two weeks, outright decimating my normal $175 budget. Now, I could have shrugged and said “ah well” and continued to spend as my budget would normally dictate. Instead, I thought “do you want to be broke? Because that’s how you end up broke. I readjusted everything else. No new games, no anime hoodies, no extra bottles of soju. I had to rebalance my budget to make sure I was still on track to get where I want to be. We all make mistakes and we all fall to the temptation of retail therapy, but it’s how you recover in those moments that will make the difference between being stuck with poor financial wellness or being one step closer to financial FREEdom*.

(*Financially resilient, empowered early)


This is easily the most difficult part of budgeting when you don’t have money. I mean, how do you save when your budget is so tight every penny is accounted for? If you go through the previous two steps, in earnest, you’ll find that your pockets are a little looser. You get that $8 back from Disney+, stick to that $175 food budget, buy two pairs of jeans instead of five and you’ll see your numbers looking real different. My personal trick for this: 

Improve your financial health with the money tracking app.
Track your financial wellness


 I check my bank account when I wake up and before I go to sleep. I have an Acorns account that acts as my savings/investing account and I try to throw at least $5 in every week ($5/week X 52 weeks = $260. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start). 

My Nav.It app let’s me keep it all together and see how well I’m doing sticking to my game plan and what my financial wellness really is. Don’t avoid looking in the darkness of money. That’s how a lot of us end up in bad situations we could have avoided.

Money Habits improved

When I was younger, the only time I checked my account was when I was spending money. It can’t be that way. Whether we like it or not, money makes the world go ‘round.

Fear and ignorance of how it works and how it can work FOR you will only keep you from being the dope-ass person you know you can be. After following the tips I’ve given here and increasing your knowledge with other Nav.It posts, you deserve to have your money work just as hard as you have. Keep an eye on it and make sure it is. If you aren’t practicing money mindfulness, it’s easy to lose track of what your money is actually doing for you.

So, why do you need a budget when you don’t have money?

Because that’s how you get money. It’s how you take control of your financial future. It’s how you begin the journey to financial freedom. It’s how you get closer to building generational wealth. It’s not going to be easy, but you deserve it, so let’s put that work in.

Related Reads:

10 Money Habits to Implement Today

Getting Consistent with Money

Start Saving


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Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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