13 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

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Finding ways to save money on a tight budget can be hard.

What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that a lot of your monthly expenditures can decrease in a second.

Since it seems like you have to spend money to actually make money, let’s look at some tips and tricks that can help you save what you have instead.

Why You Should be Saving Money

Sometimes, the difference between saving your money and spending it all can come down to mere knowledge.

Not everyone can get good financial education.

With that being sand, the information is out there. (Well, really here).

And I’m not trying to sound like your parents or anything, but there are so many reasons you should be saving what you can. I guess they might’ve known more than we thought, huh?

Even though it’s never too early to begin saving, it’s also never too late to start. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Financial freedom in your future
  • Less financial stressors
  • Good safety net
  • Easier ability to plan advanced trips 

I’m not going to go any further on that list. Since you are already here, I’m assuming you have your own reasons for trying to save. So, let’s just go ahead and get on with these tips.

13 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

  1. Track your spending.

Part of increasing your savings is knowing exactly how much you are currently spending. 

Even though you may think you aren’t spending much (you know- just a little here and there) you will probably be surprised once you actually see it on paper.

Now, this isn’t a ‘savings fix’ per se, but it’s a stellar start. Tracking where your money goes could decrease the amount of places you’re willing to spend it.

So, whether it’s a candy bar in the gas station or this month’s electricity bill, track every penny you spend.

  1. Shop with a list.

We all know Target has a hypnotizing logo. It’s not your fault you go in looking for milk and walk out with the entire store. It’s just because you were hypnotized without a list.

Stop going in stores blind! 

I suggest leaving a notepad in the kitchen. This way, you have something set out specifically to write down your shopping list on.

Every morning or evening, edit your list. Need more Hamburger Helper? Jot it down. Have to get paper towels? Make a note of it. Want to grab a purple t-shirt for your kid’s “favorite color” day? Write it on the notepad. 

Then, as you shop, take the list and mark off things as you go. You’ll have a steady flow of new additions and eliminations. But, you won’t have to walk around guessing what you need nor question what you already got.

Regardless of where you are going or what you need, write it down. Then, when you get to the store, pull it out and don’t stray from it.

  1. Buy your household basics from the dollar store.

I’m honestly not sure why shopping in dollar stores isn’t entirely more popular.

Between foods, detergents, clothes, and pet supplies, they generally have a good amount of your basics- and for a significantly cheaper price. (I mean come on, it’s the dollar store!)

If you haven’t shopped your local dollar store, let me enlighten you on a few items you can save on:

  • Dishes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Tshirts
  • School supplies
  • Batteries
  • First aid

Pro tip: when planning a party, ALWAYS start at the dollar store. They are nearly always stocked with decorations and favors.

  1. Automate your savings.

It’s easy to say you’re going to save ‘x’ amount of money, but it’s way easier to do if it’s just an automatic transfer.

Most banks allow you to set an automatic transfer between multiple accounts. (You should be able to do this on the computer, mobile, or in the bank itself.)

Depending on when you get paid, decide how much money you want to go into your savings each month. Then, set up your transfer. After that, you don’t have to worry about holding yourself accountable- your bank will do that for you.

  1. Use LED lightbulbs.

Although LED lights may be a little more money up front, it pulls less electricity. So, in the long run, you will end up saving money.

Since you probably use light bulbs quite frequently, this can be a very useful (and easy) transition.

  1. Live below your means.

Live below your means and start saving what’s leftover.

It’s so easy to open up a credit card and go into debt. What’s not easy is trying to come out of debt.

An easy way to eliminate this chance is to- say it with me- live below your means.

There are cheaper (even free) options to nearly everything in life. (Meaning, you can be happy and do what you want, without spending an extraordinary amount of your income.)

*This relates back to tip #1. If you track your spending, you can definitely see where you might be splurging.

  1. Pay in cash.

I used to despise carrying cash. But, then I realized how often I used my debit card.

Even if you know your bank account amount, it’s hard to be mindful of exactly how much you are regularly spending in a given amount of time.

By carrying cash, you know exactly how much you have to spend. Therefore, you can’t go over budget.

Pro tip: pay in cash for big ticket items too. Most businesses (and people) are incentivized on cutting deals when there is cold, hard cash involved.

  1. DIY your life.

Start making everything (and in bulk). 

If you are looking at buying something, there’s a 99% chance that there is a way to do it yourself.

Some common things that you can DIY are laundry detergents, cleaning sprays, shelves, and storage. 

This helps you save in 2 ways:

  • First, you will most likely always spend less on products to make the said thing rather than the price you would spend actually buying what you want.
  • Secondly, most of your daily items can easily be made in bulk when you make it yourself. By making things in bulk, you’ll spend less money regularly on products you use constantly.
  1. Become a coupon queen (or king).

Have you ever actually looked at coupons? Not everything is a win, but every now and then you can come across some pretty great deals.

Always check online (or your newspaper) for coupons before you head into a store.

You could also download a few apps like Honey or Ibotta to give you coupons based on your shopping list.

  1. Sell things you aren’t using.

We live in a glorious time of Facebook Marketplace. 

If you have stuff lying around that you aren’t using, sell it. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

This goes for notebooks, clothes, chairs, tables, decorations, and literally everything else.

Think about it- you bought it because you needed (or wanted) it. So, someone else most likely will too.

If you can throw it up on FB Marketplace, give a local pick up option (safely, of course), and do a “best offer” price, it’s bound to sell.

This is such a perfect way to declutter and have extra pocket (or savings) change.

  1. Cut back on your monthly services.

Did you know that most cable and internet companies will give you discounts if you call and talk to them about changing your service?

You’re probably paying for many add-ons that you aren’t even aware you have. Give them a call and ask to analyze your billing. Then, discuss things that you want removed.

If you don’t think you use cable enough period- drop it. Still a movie buff? Get Hulu or Netflix (or any of the other gazillion streaming apps) and pay a small $7-20 a month rather than $80+ on cable.

Also, shop around for phone plans. Different carriers offer discounts for multiple lines, pre-paid plans, and even phone upgrades. Needless to say, they also vary greatly in prices. While you may have the best option, you also may not. It’s never a bad idea to compare other places.

Car insurance is another necessity you should shop around for. You can do a lot of this research online, but it could help to call around.

*If you are military, make sure you make that known up front. Oftentimes, places will give amazing discounts to you, but only if you ask.

  1. Start budgeting effectively.

Even though budgeting is one of the top ways to save money (even on a tight budget), I wanted to save this tip for the end. 

Now that you have 11 other tips to start implementing, start your budget.

One of the most effective ways to budget is the 50, 30, 20 rule.

50% of your income goes towards your necessities. This includes monthly bills, house payments, food allowance, etc.

Then 30% of your income goes to your ‘wants’. For me, this includes going out to eat, date nights, movies, clothes, and everything else that I theoretically could live without.

After that, the last 20% of your income goes directly into savings. This is the amount that I would have regularly (and immediately) drafted into my savings account.

Budgeting can be pretty challenging when first starting, but soon it becomes second nature. There are also some great budgeting tools online to help you- like Dave Ramsey, You Need A Budget, and EveryDollar.

  1. Be patient with yourself.

Last, but absolutely not least, have patience.

You won’t wake up with millions of dollars in your savings account overnight.

You also probably won’t budget or track your spending perfectly in the beginning.

I think learning how to save money is a process that becomes a lifestyle. But, it’s one of the best lifestyles you can begin.

Final Thoughts on Saving Money

Some of the hardest things to start in life grant you the greatest outcomes. If you start saving your money now, it will only set you up for future successes. 

Just because you are on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to forgo saving some of your money.

Also, keep in mind that by adding in healthy financial habits now, you’ll be out of a tight budget and on the road to financial freedom in no time.

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