50 Resources for Coping on a Lower Income


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of working families in America belong to the low-income category. Changing times and economic downturns will only increase this number. It is imperative that they get help to survive, find out how to make money, and meet their basic needs. More people learning to cope with lower incomes can only be possible with help. There are many resources available to aid low-income families and individuals. These include grants, loans, and guides for then navigate the various systems and get the right help.

In this article, we have compiled a list of resources for people who are struggling to cope with a lower income. We have categorized them into sections to help you find the right information faster.

Education Resources for Students

#50 Federal Student Aid

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Federal Student Aid is a part of the U.S. Department of Education. It offers a step-by-step guide to applying for aid, receiving aid, and paying back student loans. They’re here to help you along each step of the journey. It details the various types of financial assistance available for low-income students, including grants, scholarships, work-study jobs, and loans.

#49 QuestBridge

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QuestBridge is a robust platform that provides information on resources for high-achieving low-income students offering them information on the nation’s leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities. It aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best universities and national leadership ranks.

#48 The Education Trust

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The Education Trust is a passionate advocate for students with high academic achievement, particularly those of color or living in poverty. The goal of the organization is to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students from low-income families and offer them the tools and opportunities to increase college access and completion.

#47 Bloomberg Philanthropies

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Bloomberg Philanthropies is focused on comprehensive K-12 education reform. It works to increase high school graduation and college enrollment rates as well as achievement across the country. It includes an initiative to aid high-achieving students from low- and moderate-income families and empower them to advocate for themselves.

#46 FinAid

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FinAid is one of the most comprehensive sources of student financial aid information, advice, and tools. These include information on scholarships. Educational loans and military aid, along with functional tuition and loan calculators. There are also several resources to help students choose the right college – campus as well as online. Tips on applications, jobs, and internships, and all kinds of financial aid tips.

#45 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF)

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JKCF is focused on advancing the education of exceptionally promising students from low-income families. The Foundation has awarded over $200 million in scholarships to over 2,700 students who have a financial need from 8th grade through graduate school. It also offers comprehensive educational advising and other support services.

#44 Center for First-generation Student Success

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An initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, First Generation Student, aims to drive higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success. Through a series of programs and resources, the site offers comprehensive information and help for finding the right college, choosing the right degree and paying for college at a reduced cost.

#43 GoCollege

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GoCollege is a website that offers comprehensive information on grants for low-income students. The tips and guides provided cover not only tuition but also housing, books, and general living expenses. Financial aid, available in the form of scholarships, loans, and grants, can make college life easier to afford. High-achieving students from low-income families may qualify for these aids, and the site guides them through the process.

Adult Education Resources

#42 Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)

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CAEL offers extensive resources to support low-income adults who are unemployed with job training and education. A Strada Education Network affiliate, it collaborates with postsecondary organizations, employers, and funders, to promote lifelong learning in the United States. It offers comprehensive resources that link learning and work and enables adults to prosper in a rapidly changing economy.

#41 Adult Education and Literacy

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The U.S. Department of Education’s Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) administers several programs that help adults get the necessary skills they need to be productive workers. Among these, the Adult Education–Basic Grants to States provides grants to states to fund local programs for adult education and literacy programs, including workplace and family literacy services. Adults and out-of-school youths age 16 and older from low-income families can participate in these programs.

Employment Resources

#40 The Office of Community Services (OCS)

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OCS partners with states, communities, and agencies to provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities and serve the economic and social needs of individuals and families with low-incomes. The organization partners with states, communities, and agencies to reduce poverty, increase the opportunity and financial security of individuals and families, and works in a variety of ways to improve the lives of many.

#39 Annie E. Casey Foundation

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates grants that help federal agencies, states, and cities create more innovative, cost-effective solutions for reducing poverty. The organization seeks to help millions of at-risk people reach better educational, economic, social, and health outcomes. Individuals who are stuck in low-wage positions with little chance for advancement can get help in achieving new skills or training they need to get jobs that pay a family-supporting income.

#38 Federal Grants Wire

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Federal Grants Wire’s JOLI program is focused on creating new jobs to be filled by low-income individuals. It assists in creating new employment and business opportunities for individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals. The user-friendly website offers the most current information on federal grants, government grants, and loans.

#37 Walmart Foundation

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Walmart and the Walmart Foundation create opportunities to help low-income workers live better every day. The Foundation focuses on accelerating upward job mobility, addressing hunger, and promoting career readiness. It provides more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind to support programs to create opportunities for people to live better every day and delivers a more significant societal impact.

#36 MDRC

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MDRC is focused on reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improve public education and college graduation rates. They work as an intermediary to improve the lives of low-income individuals, families, and children. They design promising new interventions and help build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale to improve the lives of low-income individuals, families, and children.

#35 Family Financial Assistance of America (FFA)

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FFA’s Jobs for Low Income Families Program is designed to help individuals of limited economic means find a stable job that meets their capabilities and pays fair wages. They tackle all issues like disabilities or limitations on the type of work an individual is capable of doing, limited job availability, limited experience, or skills. Their goal is to help individuals financially struggling to overcome red-tape and get assistance by offering valuable insight, instructions, tools, and information to guide them.

Food Resources

#34 USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)

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The Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) branch of the USDA offers several food assistance programs to help reduce hunger and increase food security. Along with resources and programs, they also guide individuals and children from low-income to get access to a healthy diet and nutrition food education. The 15 nutrition assistance programs ensure that no eligible American goes hungry and includes resources for everyone from infants to the elderly. Most of these nutrition assistance programs are administered at the state and local levels.

#33 Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)

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The Food Research and Action Center has been working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States for 50 years. The organization conducts research, leads efforts, and provides coordination, training, technical assistance, and support on nutrition and anti-poverty issues to a nationwide network of advocates, service providers, food banks, program administrators and participants, and policymakers. It also seeks stronger federal, state, and local public policies to reduce hunger, undernutrition, and obesity.

Health Resources

#32 Affordable Care Act

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The Affordable Care Act or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a federal statute that has three primary goals. It seeks to make affordable health insurance available to more people, expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138% of the federal poverty level and support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care. Also called Obamacare, it has made health insurance coverage possible for millions of uninsured Americans. It also allows lower-income families to qualify for extra savings on health insurance plans through premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

#31 Medicaid

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The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) is responsible for the various components of policy development and operations for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Basic Health Program (BHP). It is organized into seven groups to offer comprehensive support services for all health-related programs. Of these, the Financial Management Group (FMG) works with states on new financing initiatives such as payment and delivery system reform and efforts to improve access to care while lowering costs.

#30 HealthCare.gov Subsidy

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The HealthCare.gov site offers comprehensive information on lowered health insurance policies and rates. Individuals and families can get an idea of their eligibility through the income range table and other calculators. Since some of the programs are administered at the state level, individuals have to provide their residence information and their income details and family member information to qualify for the right program.

#29 American Association for Retired Persons (AARP)

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The AARP Healthcare site provides info for low-income healthcare resources such as ECA (Eye Care America), SHIP (State Health Insurance Program), HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration). The Medicare Resource Center offers comprehensive information on benefits, eligibility for Medicare, and Medicaid. The Health Insurance section offers resourceful guides to navigate through the policies, claims, and how to leverage benefits best.

#28 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)

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The KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION is an endowed, nonprofit organization that offers trusted, detailed, and independent information on national health issues. The three core components of KFF, policy analysis, polling and survey research, and journalism, focus on public programs such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. The website offers information and support to individuals struggling to pay their Medicare or Medicaid health care bills and the uninsured, who are hit the hardest with financial and access problems.

Benefits Information

#27 Need Help Paying Bills

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Need Help Paying Bills is a user-friendly website that offers a gamut of resources to help people pay their bills or debts. There are links to thousands of financial assistance programs to help struggling families get access to free food and groceries, clothes, or other supplies for their household. They can also get debt help, free healthcare, medical bill, and mortgage assistance, along with grants to help pay rent or utility bills. The site also provides links to state and local assistance programs, charity assistance, debt counseling, health care, and tips on how to save money.

#26 Benefits.gov

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Benefits.gov is one of the earliest “E-Government” initiatives that is operated, managed, and supported by a Federal agency Partnership. The- user-friendly website is a single source of benefits information to help citizens understand various benefit programs and their eligibility for them. It offers information on benefits available at state and local levels through multiple Federal agencies for millions of citizens who need the most help. Their goal is to increase citizen access to benefits information while reducing the expense and difficulty of interacting with the government.

#25 USA.gov

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USA.gov offers comprehensive information on various government programs that help millions of low-income families pay for food, housing, health care, and other necessary living expenses. It provides a list of assistance programs with categories including health and nutrition (SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare), education (loans, school meals) and job and unemployment (EITC, S.S., U.I., Training) along with the eligibility requirements for each and how to apply for them.

Senior Information

#24 Seniors Resource Guide

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The Seniors Resource Guide for low to moderate-income seniors to help them locate and apply for various assistance programs. These programs are available from local counties, cities, and states where a senior resides, federal programs administered through states, through various faith-based and nonprofit organizations. The gamut of programs includes subsidized and affordable housing, health Services, food Resources like Food Banks, Meals at Home and Congregate Meals, job opportunities, and social Security information.

#23 National Council on Aging (NCOA)

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The goal of the NCOA is to improve the health and economic security of 40 million low-income older adults by 2030. Through various programs, they help financially vulnerable seniors and adults with disabilities with their daily needs and costs. They assist financially struggling older adults who qualify for but are not yet enrolled in benefits to navigate and enroll in the right program. These go a long way to help them pay for prescription drugs, medical care, food, or heat for their homes.

Low Income Insurance Information

#22 Low-Income Credit Union (LICU)

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Low-Income Credit Union (LICU) is a section of mycreditunion.gov that serves low-income members or those who earn 80 percent or less than the median family income. These figures may differ between states and metropolitan areas. They offer valuable access to financial services for people of all income levels, including those underserved or unserved by traditional financial institutions but predominantly persons qualifying as “low-income members” or have “low-income designation” who are afforded certain benefits provided for by law.

#21 IRS-Earned Income Tax Credit

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The IRS’ Earned Income Tax Credit program offers a financial boost for families with low- or moderate- incomes. It is a refundable tax credit, which means workers may get money back, even if they owe no tax. Millions of workers may qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their marital, parental, or financial status. Eligible low-income workers can work for someone else and those who have their own business or farm. To qualify, workers must have earned income within certain limits and meet specific basic rules.

General Resources

#20 Working Poor Families Project (WPFP)

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WPFP reports on the annual analysis of U.S. Census data to identify the number and conditions of low-income working families in the country and highlights the challenges faced by them. It focuses on state workforce development policies involving economic development, education, and skills training for adults and income and work supports. It supports state nonprofit groups to conduct in-depth assessments of the economic conditions and state policies affecting working families and followed by actions to strengthen those conditions and policies.

#19 Ascend

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Ascend at The Aspen Institute is a resourceful hub that promotes children and the adults in their lives to educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. The global nonprofit organization includes path breaking projects like the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative, and Aspen Forum on Women and Girls. They bring a gender, age, and racial equity lens to their analysis to help solve the most critical challenges facing the United States and the world and create a free, just, and equitable society.

#18 Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

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The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) focuses on advancing policy solutions for low-income people. The national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization works to develop and implement federal, state, and local policies to reduce poverty, improve low-income people’s lives, and create economic security. They also address the barriers people face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status. For years, the organization has successfully equipped advocates and organizers with policy ideas that work and help public officials put good ideas into practice.

#17 FCC.gov Lifeline

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FCC’s Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers offers information about affordable telephone service options for low-income subscribers. Individuals or families that qualify as low-income consumers get a discounted rate for phone service. The goal of the program is to afford every American the opportunities and security that phone service brings. It helps them stay connected to their families, jobs, and emergency services. Administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), it involves data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the low-income program.

#16 American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

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Among many of AARP’s programs, the Low-Income Assistance program is one of the most popular ones. It is an exhaustive resource about tax help, income assistance, and other ways to expenses for the elderly. It helps older adults better control their finances, develop smart money habits, and take charge of their financial future. The program covers the basics of finances like goal setting and budget planning, asset building and protection, Debt reduction, and credit repair. It offers training and printed guides for everyone who seeks help.

#15 Taxpayer Advocate Service

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IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service offers Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITC) to assist low-income individuals with a tax dispute with the IRS. One has to earn below a certain threshold to be qualified for this service, and the amount in dispute is usually less than $50,000. The LITC provides outreach and education to individuals and represents them legally on audits, appeals, tax collection matters, and other tax disputes. Services are provided for free or for a small fee.

Frugal Living Resources

#14 Frugaling.org

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Frugaling.org is a content-rich and user-friendly website that offers resources for people of all backgrounds and guides them in maximizing budget and minimizing costs. There are several articles and guides primarily meant for people from low-income backgrounds that help individuals right their financial course and see a better future. It offers tips on pursuing a more subtle financial path now for greater rewards over time, becoming protective of one’s money, and being more conscious of spending.

#13 Wisebread

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Wisebread offers numerous resources on frugal living, personal finance, and money management. The top 100 frugality blogs are an exhaustive list of useful resources that provide valuable tips on stretching the dollar, saving money, and building wealth. They have tips for all kinds of low-income needs based on multiple calculated factors. Some of the top sites are Money Saving Mom, Money Crashers, Money Talks News, Get Rich Slowly, Christian Personal Finance, Modest Money, Daily Worth, Bargain Babe, and Saving Advice among others.

Low Income Housing Information

#12 National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

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NLIHC (National Low Income Housing Coalition) is focused on helping people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. The organization’s goal is to preserve existing federally assisted homes and housing resources, expand the supply of low-income housing, and establish affordable housing. Resource Library offers tools, research, publications, and reports on advocacy work related to housing programs for low-income families.

#11 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

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HUD is a cabinet-level agency that oversees federal programs designed to help Americans meet their housing needs. It seeks to support community development, increase homeownership, and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. The Rental Assistance program helps apartment owners offer reduced rents to low-income tenants, provide affordable apartments for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. It also provides information on rights and responsibilities for tenants and helps low-income individuals find their place and use the voucher to pay for all or part of the rent.

#10 ShelterListings.org

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ShelterListings.org is dedicated to serving the homeless and low-income. It offers information and resources categorized by state and region to help individuals and families find free or low-cost housing. The list consists of over 3,000 listings and includes emergency shelters, homeless shelters, day shelters, transitional housing, residential drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs, supportive housing, and permanent affordable housing.

#9 LowIncomeHousing.us

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LowIncomeHousing.us is a great resource to find affordable and low-income housing information. It offers a map-based interface to find affordable rentals and housing options for low-income families and individuals. People can search by their state for affordable housing options or list their own affordable properties here. There are three main sections – One offers information on HUD, low-income, and income-based affordable apartments across the country. The other based on income-based properties where landlords offer properties at rents proportional to tenant’s income in exchange for tax credits. Then there is subsidized housing where local governments pay private landlords (sometimes nonprofit) in exchange for affordable rents for low and moderately low-income people.

#8 Affordable Rental Housing

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Affordable Rental Housing information offered by the USA.gov site helps low-income people find affordable rental housing. It covers many government programs like subsidized housing, public housing, and housing choice vouchers. The nature and eligibility of these programs are different, so applicants need to research and find out if they qualify for help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to get affordable rental housing. While the HUD doesn’t directly own property or assign, it gives money to states and building owners, who, in turn, provide low-income housing opportunities.

#7 Lowincomeapartments.us

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Lowincomeapartments.us provides a nationwide directory of Low-Income Apartments. It includes an updated Public Housing Department, HUD Apartment lists, and Section 8 lists. While the list is not all-inclusive, it is quite exhaustive. The listings include family low-income apartments, senior apartments, and low-income apartments for the disabled. There are thousands of low-income apartments in the United States, but access to the information is not always easy. This website’s goal is to provide updated information to assist individuals and families in their search for an affordable home.

#6 Low Income Home Energy Assistance(LIHEAP)

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The Office of Community Services’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program is dedicated to helping keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. It provides federally funded assistance in managing costs associated with home energy bills, weatherization, and energy-related minor home repairs and energy crises. It covers state and community programs to assist low-income families and about programs that reduce the risk of health and safety problems that arise from unsafe heating and cooling practices.

Resources for Women

#5 Single Mother Guide

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Single Mother Guide provides information on options for financial assistance in the form of grants for single mothers. It lists many resources about what benefits one might be entitled to and how to apply. The purpose of this site is purely educational; it is not affiliated with, nor endorsed or operated by any government agency. However, it offers exhaustive resources and information that has helped millions of single moms “beat the odds” and survive the rough road of single motherhood. There are a plethora of grants for single mothers like the Pell Grant, TANF cash assistance, WIC, CCAP, and food stamps, among others. While it does not directly offer grants of any kind of financial aid, it provides ample guides on how to find them. These grants play an important role in supporting single-mother families in times of economic challenge.

#4 National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

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The National Women’s Law Center are advocates, experts, and lawyers who fight for gender justice. They drive change in the courts, in public policy, and our society. They take on issues that are central to the lives of women and girls. The resourceful website has a Poverty and Income Support section that contains articles and reports about available family support programs, family tax credits, and more. They monitor and analyze laws and policies favoring women and families, especially for women facing multiple forms of discrimination.

#3 Women Employed

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Women Employed strives to improve the economic status of women and remove barriers to economic equity. They pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces so that all women, families, and communities thrive. Along with increasing opportunities and respect in the workplace for working women, they are also focused on expanding access to educational opportunities. From securing grants and mobilizing advocates, they also affect change by brainstorming with business leaders and persuading legislators to act in favor of women.

#2 Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)

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The Institute for Women’s Policy Research advances women’s status through social science research, policy analysis, and public education. They conduct and communicate research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds. Their work helps to change minds and improve the practices of institutions. They are passionate about developing new policy ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, and promote sound policy and program development.

#1 The Mom Project

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The Mom Project is committed to helping women remain active in the workforce in every stage of their journey. The organization’s mission is to create incredible opportunities for talented women where they no longer have to choose between parenthood and their careers. They can now engage on their own terms with companies that need their talent and expertise. In this way, it also helps businesses attract and retain talent, a challenge for sure. The Mom Project bridges this talent gap, helps businesses retain talented employees as they navigate through motherhood and parenting. Companies and professionals can grow and thrive together.

Tips on How to Survive on a Low Income

Tip #1 Prioritize.
Step back from what you want. Take a deep breath and focus on what you need. Only the things that you cannot survive with should be your priority.

Tip #2 Save and spend ratio.
Take a good look at your bank statement and your spending habit. Is it exceeding your earnings? Remember, it should be an 80:20 ratio, with 80% being your savings.

Tip #3 Save first, spend later.
Now that you know about the 80:20 rule stick to it. The right way to do it is to save first and not last. The moment you get your paycheck set aside the maximum amount you can spare and then spend. If you can’t do 20, save at least 10%.

Tip #4 Budget
Make a budget for your family and stick to it. Write down all your necessities, make a list of expenses and see if you can cut down on any to stay within your budget goals.

Tip #5 Shop Discount
Look for discounts and discount stores. The latter will always give you plenty of options at low prices and help stretch your budget. However, other stores often have great sales and discounts, so keep a lookout for them. That way, you can indulge once in a while without breaking the bank.

Tip #6 Eat in
There is a vast difference between eating out and dining at home. It’s not just about the fun, taste, and variety but the amount you can save by eating in. Even if you are not passionate about cooking, try, and explore dishes that are easy to make, and you will not believe how much you can end up saving.

Tip #7 DIYville
Try and make as much as you can yourself. We all have skills, so try and find out what you can do around the house that you don’t have to buy or hire people to handle. If you can save money on repairs, sew your clothes, make your soaps and detergents, you can save a lot of money!