Shoestring Budget

Updated on January 5, 2024
Article byKosha Mehta
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Shoestring Budget Meaning

Shoestring Budget is a phrase used in context of a project or a job, that indicates that the endeavor is being done with a little budget or low capital resources, which is typically less the capacity being suggested for the project.

Shoestring Budget

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A shoestring budget is a budget that is generally considered to be inadequate for the project that it is intended for; however, there is an assumption that, if a shoestring budget is strained, the budget might be enough for the project. This is even though a shoestring budget is a budget that is generally considered to be scarce.

Key Takeaways

  • “Shoestring Budget” refers to a project or task with a little budget or minimal capital resources, usually scarce for the project’s capabilities.
  • This budget can be for anything, such as a small business’s finances, traveling expenses, an event, or even a way of life.
  • One can run a low-budget business from home, receive finance from friends, family, and crowdsourcing, and utilize social media for promotion.
  • As shoestring is near the ground, the word is used to signify a restricted budget. Also, shoestrings are inexpensive; therefore, the term may imply having barely enough money to buy them.

Shoestring Budget Explained

A shoestring budget refers to one that is extremely constrained in terms of the sum of money to spend on a project. These budgets can pertain to anything, such as a cost for travel, an occasion, or even a way of life. One example of this type of budget is an event budget. ‘Limited budget’ can be considered a shoestring budget synonym.

The shoestring budget origin is the subject of extensive discussion. The phrase and related expressions like ‘living on a shoestring budget’ are believed to connect to a shoestring gambler or a gambling game. Also, since bootlaces or straps are close to the ground, this is another main explanation for why the term is used to denote a limited budget. Shoestrings are also quite cheap; therefore, the concept of having only enough money to purchase strings may also be reflected in the name.

One who has minimal financial resources is thought to live on a shoestring. This implies there is little money to spend on necessities such as food and shelter. One could say that poor earners get a shoestring budget to deal with. A budget as tight as a shoestring is analogous to a shoelace that, when strained to its full length, is enough to keep shoes on the toe, but portions of it may hang out. The idea of “bootstrapping” is similar to but distinct from the previous one. It is a term used to describe persons who carry out a project with just the available resources.

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Saving Costs On Shoestring Budget

The term “shoestring budget” can also be used for business. Conferences and literature are devoted to managing a company on a meager budget. One common method of cutting costs that small business owners often recommend is working from home to maintain a minimal overhead. For example, it is possible to save the cost of renting office space. Another strategy that companies may use to make do with smaller budgets is to reduce the amount of money they spend on marketing.


Let us look at the following shoestring budget examples to understand the concept better:

Example #1 – Shoestring Vacation

Some couples have a tight wedding budget. The couple must pick the most economical cake, reception, and wedding clothing. A bride with a huge budget may not have a dress budget, but a bride on a shoestring would. Cost-effective vacation is a common discussion point. Everyone is looking for ways to save money regarding travel expenses like flights, stays, and visiting places.

Example #2 – Shoestring Home Improvement

Working on a tight budget isn’t limited to low-income families. Rich families may prefer separate dog houses. They want a $60,000 pool. Unfortunately, only $40,000 is available. The family informs the builder they require to lessen costs since they have a tight budget.

Shoestring Startups

Business budgets are tight. One may wish to establish a new business but lack the funds. In such cases, choosing to perform the business from a house rather than a storefront, acquiring financing from known acquaintances and crowdsourcing, and using social media for marketing would be advisable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a shoestring budget?

This phrase means having just enough dollars to devote to a certain objective and refers to a sum of money that is insufficient to pay the costs associated with the usage for which it was intended. Companies operating on a tight budget often find it difficult to secure extra finance.

How to live on a shoestring budget?

Review regular expenses. Check recurrent monthly costs and cut costs wherever possible. For example, refinance debt to reduce interest to be paid.

How to retire on a shoestring budget?

Paying close attention to spending is essential if one wants to live on a modest budget throughout retirement. Reserve savings for unforeseen expenses and plan expenses as much as possible. Inhabiting a low-cost environment, choosing used goods, investigating affordable travel choices, and maintaining the present family unit for support helps retire on a shoestring.

How to start a business on a shoestring budget?

The secret to launching a successful venture on a low budget is to combine a pastime with a well-defined market niche. Starting a Business On A Tight Budget can be done by running a home-based workplace, Making Individual Sacrifices, Shopping around for the best cost, minimal marketing, and borrowing cash.

This has been a guide to Shoestring Budget and its meaning. Here, we explain its origin and how to save costs on a shoestring budget with examples. You may also find some useful articles here –

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