When you’re on a tight budget and things are financially limited, it becomes very difficult to save money. Here are a 12 ways that you can save money on a tight budget.
Review Your Budget
One of the primary ways you can save money when you’re on a tight budget is to take a good hard look at your financial situation. Translation: review and reevaluate your budget (that is, if you’re using one). A budget should help provide a road map for your priorities, meaning that it should give you a line by line indication where money comes from (income) and where it goes (expenses). If you don’t have a budget, or haven’t used one in a while now would be a good time to revisit that idea. Putting things down in a visual format is much more effective than making guess-timates in your head when it comes to money. You cannot address what you can’t see. It is not only good practice, it will help you build discipline to make the necessary adjustments to help you save. You’d be surprised at the number of expenses—even the small ones—that could be eligible for big savings if you just spell them all out first.\
Saving Money On Fees
After reviewing your budget and making the necessary adjustments you can then review all your financial products and services such as bank accounts, credit card accounts that may be incurring fees. Fees such as ATM fees, bank service fees, late payment fees, overdraft fees and credit card fees can be significant. They should be minimized at all cost if not eliminated. In some cases, overdraft fees can be $35 per occurrence, and out-of-network ATM fees can be up to $5.00 per transaction. Some bank Managers do have discretion on fee reversals, so, if needed don’t hesitate to ask for leniency if you were hit with any such fees. It never hurts to ask. Every extra dollar matters when you’re on a tight budget and trying to save money. Easy rules to follow include skipping the back/forth at the ATM multiple times per week (especially if there may be fees involved). Get enough money to last for the week—or until your next payday—and make your money stretch. Psychologically, it is also more difficult to part with cold, hard cash than it is to whip out a plastic debit or credit card.
Being an educated consumer by comparing prices is one of the best savings strategies when you’re on a tight budget. Because of the competitive nature of the consumer market, you do have the ability to compare pricing on virtually every good and service you use. By utilizing your right as a consumer to compare pricing you can literally save thousands of dollars annually. The difference between designer brand clothing and store-brand clothing, for example, is not just a label, it could be anywhere from 60-300%. With that in mind, you should shop through any of your loyalty or membership accounts that may save you an extra buck or two. For example, if a retailer offers a discount for AAA members, or a student discount, take full advantage of it.
With the advancements of digital technology, home entertainment packages now include a variety of services, which can include cable TV, phone, internet and even alarm systems. In an effort to recover some savings it may make sense to revisit your overall package and downgrade your service to a lesser expensive tier in order to save on your monthly subscription. Basically, you can look at your service options to see where you can save money. Consider removing a non-essential service like premium movie or sports channels, which tend to more expensive. You can also consider going back to the basics and just use an internet connection which then allows you to use access services like Hulu and Netflix for a far lower price tag. And if you really want to go old school, you can rent books and movies (DVDs) from your local library for free. And yes, I know this can cause anxiety, but it’s a viable strategy to save money when you’re on a tight budget.
Eating In Means Cashing In
Food is a basic human necessity. We simply could not survive without eating. Although we no longer have to chase wooly mammoths to survive, we do have to eat every day. That said, the convenience of fast-food restaurants and vending machines has made it a little too easy. In fact, we have the ability to eat 24-7. Although fast food is generally inexpensive, the consistent purchasing of food on the go adds up. Purchasing and preparing your own food for breakfast, lunch (brown bag) and dinner is not only cost effective, it can be a much healthier option as well. Plus, there’s just something special about home cooking and having leftovers particularly when you’re on a tight budget.
Look For Close Out Sales, Discounts, and Coupons
There are several ways you can save on purchases. Many retailers periodically offer special discounts to entice buyers. Sometimes this may be a ‘going out of business’ sale or inventory liquidation sale. Look in your local newspaper or circular (the weekend editions are best) to find and hunt for deals. In addition, coupons represent an amazing opportunity to save on a tight budget. Some families have made using coupons a way of life. By devoting time to seek out and learn about coupons you can significantly reduce the amount of out of pocket funds used to purchase everyday items. I’d be totally surprised if there weren’t coupons for just about every household item we use. Bonus tip: you can also try bartering with friends and family…Hey you’re save on a tight budget.
In a culture that is synonymous with instant gratification. It has become increasingly difficult to go against the grain even when you’re trying to save on a tight budget. There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming goods and services that we need, provided that we are disciplined about our spending. Where we experience pitfalls is when we become impulsive buyers. By setting financial priorities based on your monthly budget, you would have given some forethought to your wants versus your needs. Delaying gratification will not only help save you money, it will help you stay on the path to better financial discipline.
Renegotiate Monthly Payments
In some instances, if you are able to prove financial need, creditors may be willing to work with you to help create a more affordable monthly payment. Home mortgage and student loan companies are a couple examples of types of creditors that may be worth talking through the possibility of re-negotiating lower payments to help save you money when you’re on a tight budget.
Modify Your Diet
As a vegetarian I notice that I spend the majority of my time shopping in one section of the grocery store…usually the produce section. Generally speaking, fruits and veggies are less expensive than say steak. Because, I have the ability to control my food choices, I can ultimately control my spending. Given that globally we are becoming more health conscious, it is always a good practice to revisit our eating habits, since, “we are what we eat.” In addition, unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking also contribute to draining our financial resources. Living a healthier lifestyle will not only improve your overall health, it can help you save a few dollars when you’re on a tight budget.
Cancel Monthly Subscriptions
Being on a tight budget forces you to constantly look at your financial picture and more specifically, how you can decrease expenses. In so doing, it may be a good time to go through your bank and/or credit card statements to determine whether or not there are magazine or other types of subscriptions which may need to be cancelled. Depending on the nature and the amount of the subscription, you could be saving hundreds of dollars annually by cancelling the account. For example, instead of having a monthly $19.99 or $239.88 annual subscription taken from your account, you can use those funds to pay off bills or build your personal savings.
Sell Items on Ebay
You remember the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well that does have some relevance here. eBay.com provides a platform for anyone to both sell or purchase items anywhere in the world. You can also use emerging sites like Bonanza, or a local Craigslist site. That said, there is a market for used items such as clothing, household items, books and collectibles. In fact, you can sell virtually anything online or on a site like eBay. Take a look around your home and locate items that you no longer use or find useful, take some pictures and post it online. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are people who can’t wait to give you money for stuff you didn’t need. How’s that for savings.
Be Creative About Recreation
Saving money on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. If anything it should make you become more creative. Given the importance of recreation, it becomes even more relevant to find savings strategies in which to facilitate recreation. Never underestimate the power of experiencing and appreciating the beauty of our natural environment in a new way. Taking walks or jogging in a public park or along a public beach and utilizing trails for hiking are not only cost effective but also very positive ways we can impact our quality of life which saves money long term on our physical and mental health particularly as it relates to the stress caused by being on a tight budget.