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Want to save money but don’t think you can? Here are 21 easy ways to save money on a tight budget.
It can be difficult to find ways to save money on a tight budget, but it’s not impossible. I know because I was in your shoes not so long ago.
I was deep in debt and didn’t think I would ever be able to get out from under it because there just wasn’t enough money to make ends meet every week…
Much less save any to grow an emergency fund, save for a rainy day, or even buy things we actually needed.
In fact, according to CNBC, 41% of Americans don’t have enough money saved to can’t cover a $1000 emergency
But there are things you can do to start saving even if you think you can’t because you are living paycheck to paycheck.
The key to finding ways to save money is by being intentional about where your money is going and making small incremental changes that you can stick to.
So if you are ready to dive in and find ways to start saving more money, here are 21 things that just about anyone can do, even if you are on a tight budget.
1. Stop using credit
Using credit to pay for things can be very convenient when money is tight but if you can’t pay off the balance in full, your throwing money in the trash every month.
Just to give you an idea of how wasteful it is, imagine you have a major car repair that costs $1000 and you put it on credit and only paid the minimum payment every month.
If the interest rate on your card was 19.99% (which is very common) it would take two and a half years to pay off that debt and cost over $470 in interest alone.
Input your credit card balance into this simple debt payoff calculator to see how much money you’ll save by paying off balances.
2. Pay yourself first
If you want to start saving money, you have to be intentional about it which means paying yourself first by setting a specific amount of money aside to add to your savings.
Even if you can only commit to paying yourself $20 a week, it’ll add up to a little over $1000 a year. Then as you free up more money using the tips in this article you can start increasing your weekly contribution.
The key to doing this consistently is to have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into a high-interest savings account so you don’t get the opportunity to spend it or even need to think about it.
3. Find cheaper alternatives to save money
Finding cheaper alternatives for the things you need is one of my favorite ways to save money on a tight budget because it’s so easy to do.
This is what actually opened my eyes and made me realize that saving money isn’t as difficult as I made it out to be when I was struggling to pay off debt.
It could be small changes like buying bottled water by the case and paying just $2.99 for a case of 24 or $0.12 cents each instead of paying $1.00+ buying them individually.
Or making breakfast at home for less than $.50 instead of paying $5 minimum in the driver through lane.
4. Save money on groceries
Groceries are a huge monthly expense for most people, often time costing more than our mortgage or rent payments.
Luckily though, it’s also one of the easiest ways to save money when on a tight budget. Start by meal planning and always shop with a grocery list so you only buy what you need instead of randomly filling your cart.
Then you can up your game and add in a few other grocery saving strategies to save even more on food
If you aren’t sure what is a reasonable grocery budget, you can use this handy grocery budget calculator to determine what you should be spending based on your family size.
To learn how to easily save money on food, check out Grocery Budget Makeover. This helped me save so much money every month, I know it can help you too!
5. Save your extra paycheck
If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, you may not realize that 4 times a year, you actually get 5 paychecks a month instead of 4.
This means that if you are able to make ends meet with only 4 paychecks the other 8 months out of the year, those 4 extra paychecks can go right into your savings.
6. Save your spare change
I know saving your spare change might seem cliche and not worth the trouble but it could really add up over time. You can even take this a step further and save all your dollar bills or even 5 dollar bills.
You can even save your spare change if you use a debit card to pay for all your purchases with apps like Digit or Acorns that round up your purchases and add the spare change to your account which you can withdraw anytime you need to.
7. Sell stuff you don’t need
One of the easiest ways to find some cash to save for a rainy day is by selling stuff you don’t need or want anymore.
You can make money selling just about anything these days, it could be selling old or even broken electronics, clothing that no longer fits, old furniture, housewares, or even textbooks.
There are plenty of places to sell your stuff. You can have a yard or garage sale, at local consignment shops, or sell them online. You can check out cash in on clutter for a complete list of sites to sell just about anything.
8. Take advantage of work benefits
Employers often offer benefits to their employees which could come in the form of discounts, or programs that can help you save more money.
For example, many places allow you to start a 401K to save up for retirement which is a great benefit in itself, but some also help you earn even more by matching your contribution by a certain percentage. If you have this opportunity, take advantage of it since it’s free money!!
Other employers offer HSA’s or Health Savings Accounts which allows you to pay for medical expenses with pre-tax dollars to help you stretch your money further.
These are just a few examples but there may be much more available to you. If you don’t know what kind of benefits your company offers, you can find out if there are ways to save money by asking someone in HR.
Budgeting is one of the easiest things you can do to stretch your money so you don’t have to live on a tight budget. The budgeting made easy spreadsheet can help you track your finances in less time.
9. Learn to live on a budget
This should go without saying but if you’re struggling to save money, you need to learn how to live on a budget.
Budgeting your money is truly the only way for you to get in control of your money and is how you are going to save money for a rainy day, to build your emergency fund, and reach your financial goals in life.
If you don’t have a budget yet, you can grab these free budget printables to get started.
10. Take the no-spend challenge
One surefire way to save money fast on a tight budget is to do a no-spend challenge. If you’ve never heard of this money-saving challenge, it’s when you commit to not spend any money except to pay your bills for an entire month.
As you can imagine, this can help you save quite a bit of money in a month. If this sounds too difficult, another alternative is to do a pantry challenge where you eat what you have on hand for a month (or whatever timeframe you choose) saving you a bunch of money on groceries.
11. Earn more from your savings
Once you start growing your savings, it’s a good idea to keep your money in a bank account that pays a high-interest rate so you can grow your savings even faster.
If you are looking to earn the most from your money, you should consider opening a savings account at an online bank since they can pay higher rates because they have fewer overhead costs than a traditional brick and mortar bank.
And don’t worry, your money is just as safe as any other bank since it’s FDIC insured. I use CIT Bank for a few reasons, everytime I compare rates, they are usually the highest, they don’t charge any fees, and have a very low minimum deposit to start compared to other banks.
12. Negotiate your bills down
There are many expenses that we pay for on a regular monthly basis that can be lowered just by asking for a discount or promotional pricing.
One great example that comes to mind is insurance premiums. Many companies offer discounts if you bundle multiple insurance policies together.
I actually called my insurance company not very long ago and got a 17% discount just for bundling my homeowner’s policy with my car insurance which saves over $900 a year!
You can do the same with other bills such as bundling cable, phone, and internet services to save money. Or if you really want to save, give up cable altogether and opt for one of the many cable TV alternatives available.
Not ready to give up cable? Another option is to simply call and let the representative know that you are shopping around for better rates and ask if there is anything they can do. Many times they will offer you a promotional rate just to keep you as a customer.
If doing this intimidates you, there’s a great app called Trim that will do it for you but they do take a percentage of the savings as payment for their services.
13. Compare before you buy
When you’re in the market for a high-ticket item such as a car or new furniture, taking the extra time to shop around for the best prices can save you hundreds or even thousands depending on what you’re planning on purchasing.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck on major purchases but don’t discount the smaller everyday items too. It’s always a good idea to get into the habit of looking for the best prices for just about anything you buy.
14. Earn cash back
Earning cash back for buying things or doing stuff that you were going to do anyway is a no brainer when it comes to saving money.
For example, you could earn points using a rewards credit card to pay for your bills and everyday items and earn as much as 5% like with the card I use.
Just make sure to pay your balances in full every month or you’ll end up wasting more money than you save.
And it’s not just rewards cards, there are tons of ways to earn cashback using apps, loyalty programs, or through online shopping portals such as Rakuten.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, I have an article where I share over 20 ways to earn cashback.
15. Tackle high-interest rate debt
Just like not paying your credit card balances in full every month, having debt costs you so much money every month in interest.
Of course, this can be difficult when you are on a tight budget but there is something that you can do to reduce the amount of interest you pay every month that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over time like consolidating your debt into a lower interest rate loan.
Even if your credit score isn’t in the best shape there are companies like PayOff who will work with you to get you a reasonable interest rate.
Need more help paying off your debts? Check out “How to Get Out of Debt When You’re Broke as Hell“.
16. Reduce your energy consumption
Energy is another big expense that we pay for every single month, but you can reduce your energy bills to save money by being mindful not to waste electricity.
Simple things such as line drying clothes, only turning on your washer or dishwasher when you have to wash a full load, and not using the dry cycle or turning off TV’s, lights, or anything else when not in use can make a huge impact on your electric bill.
If you’d like to learn more about reducing your energy bills, you can read 13 Ways to reduce your energy bills for some helpful tips.
17. Avoid unnecessary fees
It seems like every time we turn around we are hit with all kinds of fees that drain our bank accounts. Funny enough, most fees are charged by our banks.
If you are being charged a monthly fee by your bank to maintain your accounts, you need to find a different bank to do business with.
You can avoid late fees by paying your bills on time every month by automating your payments, either by signing up for direct pay or using your bank’s bill pay feature.
And overdraft charges can be avoided by linking your savings to your checking so if you ever don’t have enough money in your checking, the money can come out of your savings avoiding a hefty $30 (or more) charge.
18. Track your spending
If you have no idea where your money is going every month, then tracking your spending will definitely help you save more money.
There are so many little (and big) expenses that we pay for every month that don’t seem like a big deal, but when you add it all up, you realize why you are struggling to make ends meet from month to month.
Tracking your spending will help you get a handle on it all and allow you to see what’s causing you to not be able to save money and adjust to keep more money in your bank account
19. Cancel subscription services
Have you even signed up for a free trial, only to realize 6 months later that you are being charged a monthly subscription fee or charge?
Or maybe you continually pay for a service that you barely use? It happens to the best of us but if you let it continue, you are just wasting money that could be saved for more important things.
Review your bank and credit card statements monthly to see if you are paying for services that you don’t use or need and cancel them.
You could also sign up for Trim which is a free app that will alert you of any monthly subscription fees you are paying for so you can decide if it’s worth the cost.
20. Do it yourself
There is nothing more irritating than hiring a professional to fix an appliance or unclog a drain only to find out it was a quick fix that you could have done yourself.
But the thing is, even if it takes them just 15 minutes to fix, most companies will charge you a full hour anyway. One way to avoid this and to save money is to see if it’s something you can DIY before calling someone.
You can search on Google or YouTube and learn how to do just about anything these days so it’s worth checking out to see if you can save.
21. Start a side hustle
If you’ve done everything you can to cut expenses and save money but just can’t seem to put money aside, starting a side hustle might be your best bet.
There are many things you can do to make money at home to help make ends meet when money is tight. If you’re looking for a side hustle, check out these posts to help you brainstorm ways to make money that you can do in your spare time
21 Ways to Save Money On A Tight Budget Conclusion
As you can see, there are many ways to save money on a tight budget. Not all these tips will apply to you but I’m sure you can find a hand full of ideas that you can start doing today to reduce your spending, eliminate from your budget, and start building up your savings account.
And if you’re looking for more ways to save check out some other money-saving ideas below.