Do you often feel like your paycheck is already spent before you even receive it? If you’ve felt this way recently, you’re not alone. Between housing, food, and utility bills, it can feel overwhelming to financially keep up. Sometimes we can’t help but ask ourselves at the end of each month: where has all my money gone?
So, if you’re tired of watching money leave your account faster than it’s coming in, this is the article for you. Sit back, relax, and get ready to learn: 21 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget.
1. Track Spending
The best way to begin to save money on a tight budget? Know where you stand. Probably the biggest problem people new to budgeting suffer from is not knowing where their money goes.
While little “treat yourself” impulse buys may seem few and far between, your tracked spending may prove otherwise. In order to understand how much money you spend out of “want” as opposed to “need,” start tracking.
2. Try the “50- 30- 20” Method
This budgeting money method stands by a tried and true theory: 50% of your paycheck should go towards “needs.” What do we mean by needs? Housing, food, health, and utilities.
Once those are paid for, you can delegate 30% of your budget to “wants.” Things such as concert tickets, eating out, clothing, date nights, etc. And last but certainly not least, savings. Each month, perhaps at the beginning of every month so you don’t forget, put 20% of your income into savings.
3. Eat Less Outside.
Eating out costs at least three times more than eating in! So, if you’d like to keep your bank account big, cut this cost out. You can do this by packing lunch, or even accepting invitations to dine out, but don’t actually order food.
However, we do understand that at times eating out is inevitable. If for some reason you can’t avoid it, it’s ok. Just try to follow some simple money-saving rules:
A) Try to go out for lunch as opposed to dinner if possible, it’s cheaper.
B) If you can, apply a coupon or go during a “specials” time such as BOGO appetizers.
C) Don’t order a beverage, water can hold you over…and it’s FREE!
4. Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions
If you want to cut costs on your own, start to be honest with yourself. Recognize that you need to save money on a tight budget and ask yourself what costs are truly necessary.
Subscription box services or having accounts with multiple different streaming services might be excessive. Also, take a look at what services you use the most.
For example, if you tend to mostly watch TV and movies on Netflix, cancel all other streaming services. Especially your cable provider- which is three times (or more) expensive.
5. Negotiate Your Utility Bills
If you find yourself with some free time one weekday, dedicate it to this activity. Call up your utility providers (electricity, phone, and water) and ask if there are any money-saving options.
Explain that you’re a young person who needs to save money on a tight budget. Ask if they offer better rates or have a cheaper plan you can be put on. Some companies even offer discounts if you enroll in simple things like paperless billing and automatic pay.
Definitely take advantage of these offers if they come up. You just might save hundreds each month if you do.
6. Unplug Electronics When You’re Done
Have you ever heard of an energy vampire? It’s an item that’s plugged into the wall and continues to suck electricity, even though it’s turned off.
Things like lamps, televisions, or coffee makers which you might never unplug. And of course, these items do more than suck electricity- they increase your electricity bill too!
Therefore, unplug electronics when you’re done. This, and other electric bill saving hacks, found here, can save you quite a bit of money each month.
7. Pay off High Interest Debts
We all already know debt stinks. It’s not only a cost that looms over your head, but it also grows bigger and bigger. Because of this, put aside some time to take inventory of all your debts.
Figure out which one has the highest interest rate and focus all your financial attention on paying it off. If the rates are nearly identical, then choose the biggest debt (because that’s the one that accrues the most interest). Also, to pay it off faster, dedicate other savings you’ve gained from this list to pay the debt.
In addition, if after using this checklist to a budget you find an extra $250 per month, put it towards your debt until it’s paid off. It might hurt now, but you’ll definitely thank us later.
8. Investigate Unnecessary Monthly Fees
With the craziness of life, some unfair fees might slip by unnoticed. Unnecessary fees like bank or credit card maintenance fees. While these fees might seem small each month, they certainly can add up.
And, let’s be honest, there are banks and credit cards that don’t have monthly fees at all. Therefore, take a little time to check your monthly statements for fees that seem avoidable.
Call up your provider and ask about them. If the fees are there to stay, switch to a new bank or credit card company that waives them.
9. Start Saving on Groceries
A huge cost of living on your own is groceries. And of course, food is a necessity, so it can seem hard to cut down on this cost. Luckily though, we’ve already done all the research for you on how to do just that.
For example, an app like Ibotta gives you cashback rewards just for grocery shopping. And, having a pre-planned shopping list to stick to can cut down on costs too. For about a dozen more tips on how to save on groceries, click here.
10. Get Better Gas Prices
Another huge monthly, but mostly necessary cost, is gas for your car. And while we can’t tell you not to buy gas, we can tell you not to overpay for it. Many times, people don’t pre-plan their gas trips.
They simply gas up while they’re out- not realizing they could be filling up at an overpriced rate. To avoid this, use the GasBuddy App to find the best gas prices near you at any given moment. It’s completely free and totally worth the savings.
11. Plan Out Errands
While many young people enjoy a more carefree lifestyle, sometimes a little bit of planning goes a long way. Even when it comes to errands.
Although you might run errands whenever you have the time, this probably isn’t the most cost-effective approach. Instead, plan errands geographically.
Figure out what errands are closest to each other or other destinations you plan to go to. This can save gas and miles on your car, which are two great ways to save money on a tight budget.
12. Use Cash
While cash may seem outdated, sometimes it’s in your best interest…literally.
When you spend on your credit card you can rack up interest if you don’t pay off your monthly balance. That means a $50 grocery store trip can actually cost you $60+ in the long run.
With cash, you have to come to terms with exactly how much you spend at the moment. Not only does it avoid interest accruing, but it also limits your spending.
13. Find Places to Cut Big Costs
For this piece of advice, you have to think BIG! Consider all your biggest costs, such as housing and car payments, and ask yourself: “Is this cost necessary?”
Perhaps you can move in with a roommate or find a cheaper apartment. Or maybe you/your significant other can sell one of your vehicles and share a car and its monthly payments.
14. Don’t Spend Unexpected Cash
Sometimes in life, we’re lucky enough to get some unexpected money. Be it for a birthday, a bonus at work, or a side hustle. Whatever and however much it may be, don’t be too quick to spend it.
Instead, filter that money straight into a savings account. That way it’ll be there when you really need it.
15. Refinance Loans
We’ve already talked about the unfortunate effect of high-interest loans on your monthly income. Because of this, if you have multiple loans, it might be worth it to refinance or consolidate them.
Talk to your local bank and see if they can give you a better rate. You’ll be surprised how rate changes from time to time. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
16. Avoid Irresistible Online Ads
Think about how often you scroll through your social media or email inbox and see an irresistible deal. Whether it’s “Get this Product Free…Just Pay Shipping!” or “Savings Just for You!” We’ve all fallen into that trap before.
The bottom line is these types of ads just lead to unnecessary spending and impulse shopping. To avoid this, unsubscribe to retail emails and unfollow product pushers on social media. Your bank account will be glad that you did.
17. Reconsider Transportation
Of course, a personal car is the most comfortable way to get around, but it’s not always the cheapest. Public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking are all healthier on the environment and your wallet.
To save on gas, consider using these types of transportation options when possible. And who knows, by relying on these forms of transportation, perhaps you find you can sell your car.
Just think of all the monthly savings that would come with that! Gas, insurance, and car payments…goodbye!
18. Coupon Apps or Extensions
A little coupon never hurt anybody…especially someone who wants to save money on a tight budget! Odds are that many of your favorite businesses already have apps or email lists with exclusive deals and savings.
Check and see. You can even add onto your computer a money-saving browser extension like Honey too. Because, after all, if you are going to buy it anyway, you might as well pay less.
19. Use the 30-Day Rule
What’s the 30-Day Rule, you might ask? Well, this is a guideline that serial impulse shoppers should put in place for themselves.
This rule says that the next time you feel the urge to buy something you should stop themselves.
Instead, you should write down the item, and put it in your calendar for 30 days from then. If in 30 days you still want the item just as badly, you may purchase it. But, if the urge has dwindled away, then you don’t buy it. Odds are it was an impulse buy and waste of money in the long-term
20. Research Free Fun Events
With the internet, there are so many options to have fun for free! The next time you want to have fun, without spending money, search www.EventBrite.com, or the event section of Facebook.
Both of these websites have a “Free” filter. That means you can browse events near you in the coming days that don’t cost anything. Because who said that fun needed to cost money anyway?
21. Ask for Auto-Insurance Discount
As you might know, many factors contribute to your car insurance rate. And while some of these factors you can’t control, there are still ways to get a better premium.
Some auto insurance companies have special rates for “good students” and “ long-time customers”. And did you know that if you’re married, you get a better discount?
The bottom line, do your research and ask around. A few quick questions or minutes of research could save you hundreds of dollars each month.
Overall, we hope you found our 21 proven ways to save money on a tight budget very helpful.
Although it may seem like a lot of advice, we want you to think of it as a 21-day challenge. Each day, complete one task on the list above. Whether you have to download an app, do some research, or have a conversation, just do it! Because, if you’re consistent, by the end of 21 days you will become more financially conscientious and wealthy.
If you’ve already tried some of our tips above, let us know in the comments below! How much money did you save? What advice do you have for others who want to save money on a tight budget? We can’t wait to hear about it all!
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