A shoestring budget refers to a very limited or small amount of money to spend on something. These budgets can relate to anything such as a budget for travel, an event or even a lifestyle. The exact origin of this phrase is widely debated.
The terms shoestring budget and living on a shoestring are thought to be related to shoestring gambler or a gambling game. The gambling references were recorded as being used as early as 1804. Another popular theory is that since shoestrings or shoelaces are low to the ground, this is why the term is used to describe a low budget. Shoestrings are also very inexpensive, so the idea of only having enough money to buy shoelaces may also be part of the name.
Those with limited finances are said to live on a shoestring. This means the amount of money to spend on areas such as food and housing is small. Low income earners could be considered to have a shoestring budget to work with.
Shoestring budgets can also apply to business. There are seminars and books about running a business on a shoestring. For example, keeping costs low by working from home is often considered one way to save money for a small business. The expense of renting office space is saved and sometimes income tax is saved as well. Keeping advertising costs low is another way to deal with minimal budgets for businesses.
A wedding is an event that some couples have only a shoestring budget with which to operate. The couple then has to find the best value possible for what they have to spend on the cake, reception and wedding clothes. For instance, a bride on an unlimited budget may not have a set amount to spend on a wedding dress, but a bride on a shoestring budget will definitely have a price limit to stay under.
Traveling on a shoestring budget is a popular topic. Everyone wants to save money on flights, hotels and attractions. Whether for travel, weddings, business or personal living, getting value for the money is important on shoestring budgets. For example, the amount of money spent on cheap things that fall apart just has to be increased to purchase the lasting items that should have been bought in the first place.