Give Me Back My Five Bucks

A new bare-bones budget

I like to create a bare-bones budget whenever I get a new job or my living situation changes. It helps me understand how much I’ll need to live off of should I ever lose my job (which happened in 2014 when the company I worked for laid off almost half its staff). Since I’ve had my job (and my new home) for almost two months now, I figured it was the perfect time to re-evaluate my financial situation – especially since the last time I created a bare-bones budget was back in February 2014.

So over the weekend, I took a look at my current financial situation. And after calculating how much it would cost me per month, I’m extremely happy to see that Employment Insurance (about $524/week) would be enough to cover all of my bare-bones budget expenses – without having to touch my Emergency Fund.

Related: Can you feed yourself for $100/month?


You can see I was able to eliminate over $500 from my monthly budget without much effort, and I know that if needed, I could cut that number down even further. Plus, if for some unfortunate circumstance, I had tapped out my EI resources and Emergency Fund, I could rely on RD to help out if absolutely necessary.

Anyway, at some point in 2016, I’ll be testing out this new bare-bones budget for a month – just to make sure I can still do it. I’m confident that I can, but the food budget will be a tough one. It’s been about 4 years since I last tried (and succeeded) at a $100/month grocery budget, but it’s a really good exercise to do every couple of years. :)

Related: 2016 is the year of the Emergency Fund

Is your bare-bones budget up-to-date?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. This is an amazing idea, Krystal!!

  2. R says:


    May I ask what you would eat for food in one month on only $100 with the cost of food increasing? I just went grocery shopping last night and noticed the prices were up!


    • Krystal Yee says:

      Now that I think about it, the $100 budget might be too high as the last time I did this experiment I was living on my own. Now, I’m living with RD and combined our monthly bare-bones grocery budget would be $200. Hmm. I’ll have to think about that before I try this for a month. :)

      I have all of the staples at home (rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, etc), so as for what I’d eat, it’d be really simple, healthy meals. Steamed veggies and quinoa, veggie pasta bake, homemade pizza, hummus and pita with cucumber, chili/stews – anything I can throw in the slow cooker to make a ton of meals, etc. I’d also pack my lunch for work every day (which is usually leftovers from the previous night’s dinner).

      Lots of produce is going up in price, but when I went shopping a couple days ago, there were still things reasonable/regular price. Perhaps this means trying veggies/fruits I wouldn’t normally eat, or shopping at the farmers market to see if those prices are cheaper…

      This experiment won’t be easy, but it’s not meant to be easy and it’s not meant to be a regular thing. This is just to prove to myself that I can live on an extremely reduced budget to help get through whatever financial crisis might come my way. :)

  3. Catwoman73 says:

    I definitely think it would be possible to eat for one month on approximately $100 (with the assumption that you have a decent stock of staples at home). You just have to be creative with your meals, and resourceful with where you buy your produce. There are great community programs out there that allow you to purchase fresh, local produce at dirt cheap prices. You just have to do the legwork to find them.

    I look forward to reading about your test drive of this budget Krystal! Good luck! :)

  4. I’m a fan of working out a bare bones budget, but I’ve never put parts of it to the test like you are. I feel like it would be a good exercise if I could get Jordan on board.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I just basically asked RD if he was up for an experiment. He said yes before asking what it was, so I guess that means he’s on board, haha. Will be interesting to see how he does with it considering we have been cooking fairly elaborate meals together since we moved in. It’s definitely a good thing to do every couple of years and hopefully Jordan can get on board too! :)

  5. RAnn says:

    Where so soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and haircuts come into that budget? Clothes and shoes? Underwear? I can see not having them there on a barebones budget but for normal use?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I don’t buy toiletries or spend on things like personal care/clothing, etc. often. Because of that, my budget changes every month as I try to forecast my expenses.

      For example, I buy deodorant and get my hair cut about twice per year – so I wouldn’t put that into my budget until I plan on making that purchase. I like doing it this way because it doesn’t feel like I’m “padding” my budget or giving myself room to spend on things I don’t actually need.

  6. Lorena says:

    Hi Krystal,

    I been loving reading your blog! It’s making me more aware of my own financial situation. I was wondering if you could do a post about selling your home. I know you mentioned it in your previous posts but I was wondering if you could go into detail about the costs of selling home ie. realtor and notary fees. I am thinking about selling my home but not sure what I would end up with after all these costs.


  7. Even on a bare bones budget though… Everything is on a rise. Particularly produce right now. It’d be hard to keep at $100/month and eat healthy.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I think $100/month for my portion of the budget is pretty reasonable ($200/month for 2 people). But I’m not going to run this experiment just yet – I want to see how our normal grocery budgets are for a few months before committing to an actual budget for the month-long trial run. :)

  8. Richard says:

    Cool, the $100 budget is back. I remember that from a while back. People got all angry for reason.

  9. Jackie says:

    Hey! I may have missed it but how did you get your car insurance down to $95 a month? Is that a shared expense? Thanks for the post!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      $95 is for basic insurance, and that dropped in price because the distance I’m driving to work is a lot shorter than it used to be. My comprehensive and collision insurance I pay as one lump sum every year through a different insurance provider.

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