When your income and expenses closely match, it can be tough to cover your bills – much less save money for a rainy day. But you always have options. Below, we’ll offer 20 tips on how you can save money on a tight budget.
1. Rethink Your Cable or Streaming
Many people subscribe to several television and movie-based entertainment options at once. By cutting back the number of subscriptions, you can potentially free up quite a bit of your space in your budget.
Begin by re-examining your cable television line-up. Cut the cord, if possible, or cancel add-ons (like extra channels or premium movie services) to save money.
Even if you only use streaming services, focus on the one you use the most and cut the rest. Alternatively, since you can cancel and resubscribe at any time, you could rotate through the services throughout the year, only paying for one or two at any given time.
2. Save the Change
For a painless way to set money aside, round every purchase up to the nearest dollar and shuttle the change to your savings account. The benefit of this approach is that it can add up surprisingly quickly. Plus, since you’re only sending a little bit of money after every transaction, it doesn’t have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day budget.
3. Get New Insurance Quotes
Even if your homeowners, renters, or auto insurance was the most affordable option when you originally signed up, that might not be the case today. That’s why it’s wise to get fresh quotes from other insurers regularly. You might find that a competitor offers similar coverage for less, allowing you to reduce your outgoing expenses and make saving easier.
4. Embrace Sales, Coupons, and Rebate Apps
There are plenty of options for reducing your grocery bills. By combining sales, coupons, and rebate apps, you can potentially save a bundle every time you shop.
Usually, this requires a bit of flexibility, ensuring you can create reasonable and nutritious meals while limiting your costs. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that any discount represents a real bargain by calculating the per-unit cost. In some cases, generics or lower-cost brands still come out ahead, so you need to do the math to make sure you’re not spending more than you have to by mistake.
5. Repair Instead of Replace
Many issues with appliances, clothing, and other items are fixable with a bit of know-how. Since that’s the case, you may be able to save by repairing instead of replacing.
With this, you have two choices. First, you could try a DIY. Check YouTube or similar resources for walk-throughs to see if that’s plausible and, if so, it could save you a bundle.
Alternatively, you could hire a professional. Get a quote to see if it represents a savings in comparison to a replacement. If it does, go that route instead.
6. Rent Out a Room in Your Home
If you have a spare bedroom, you could potentially use it to save money. Whether it’s finding a long-term roommate, giving you someone to split costs with, or short-term options like Airbnb, that extra space can boost your income.
Just be aware that this approach may not work if you’re a renter. You’ll need to check your lease and local regulations to ensure it’s allowed.
7. Find a New Smartphone Plan
If you’re not under contract, finding a new smartphone plan could free up money in your budget quickly. Many prepaid options – such as Mint Mobile – offer comparable coverage to the major carriers but cost a fraction of the price. Similarly, Xfinity internet customers can use Xfinity Mobile, which costs far less while still being post-paid.
Even if you can’t switch carriers, a new plan might help you save. For example, if you mainly use Wi-Fi, you might be able to ditch an unlimited plan for something more affordable.
8. Switch Your Bank
If you’re dealing with monthly fees on your savings or checking account, switching to a new bank or credit union is a great way to free up some cash. Many financial institutions offer fee-free accounts. In some cases, you can even earn interest on your balances.
Just make sure you review any rules regarding fees. Some banks and credit unions have certain requirements, like having a direct deposit or a minimum number of debit card transactions. By learning the rules, you’ll know whether you’ll be able to avoid the fees without having to change your habits.
9. Use the 72-Hour Rule
When you’re considering a purchase that isn’t strictly a necessity, follow the 72-hour rule. Essentially, instead of buying it right away, you wait 72 hours. In many cases, you’ll find that the prospective purchase isn’t actually a good idea or doesn’t align with your priorities, so the break saves you money.
10. Ask for an Interest Rate Reduction
If you have a higher interest credit card with a balance and the lender is advertising lower rates than were originally available when you opened the account, you can ask for a rate reduction. Usually, this works best if you have a better credit profile than you did initially, and you’re a long-time customer in good standing.
In some cases, the lender will review your account and simply agree. In others, they might need to pull your credit before deciding. However, you won’t know unless you ask, so it doesn’t hurt to try.
11. Skip Delivery
Whether it’s your local grocery store or through an app, delivery almost always costs extra. When you add in a tip, the difference can be in the $5 to $10 range.
Save yourself money by choosing a free option instead, such as same-day pickup. While you’ll need to spend a little time and gas, it’s often far cheaper than having someone bring it to you.
12. Sell What You Don’t Use or Need
Many people have items around the house that they don’t need that are otherwise in good shape. If you need some cash, go on a decluttering spree, gathering up anything you aren’t using. Then, find a way to sell it.
For higher-value items, you may want to try consignment shops or online selling apps and websites. For low-cost items, a yard sale might be a better fit.
13. Consider a Smaller Home
For most Americans, housing is expense #1. If rent is eating up more than 30% of your total budget, you should at least consider looking for someplace that better fits your budget. You might even find additional savings: by downsizing, you will likely save money on heating, electric bills, and other major expenses.
14. Ditch the Second Car
Becoming a one-car household can save you money in several ways. You’ll pay for less maintenance and lower your insurance bill. Plus, if you plan your routes effectively, you can reduce your overall need for gas. It may also let you sell the second vehicle, giving your savings account a quick boost.
15. Eat Less Meat
When it comes to protein sources, meat can get pricey. Reduce your grocery bills by going with an alternative a few days a week. Beans are a solid option, particularly when bought dried and in bulk. Eggs are another alternative worth exploring.
16. Choose Low-Cost Drinks
If you usually turn to bottled water or soda at home, break that habit. Instead, get a water filter system or pitcher for crisp water at home. Coffee and tea – made from grounds or tea bags – are also both affordable, giving you a flavorful option at a lower price.
17. Visit Free Attractions
Many attractions don’t cost a dime, making them a great source of entertainment. Look for local parks, free days at museums, and similar options for some fun.
18. Host Clothing Swaps
If you or family members need to refresh their wardrobes, talk to family members and friends of similar sizes to arrange for a clothing swap. That way, everyone gets something new without having to shop.
19. Allow Yourself the Occasional Small Treat
If you’re pinching every penny until it screams, you’ll end up feeling incredibly deprived relatively quickly. If that happens, you may struggle to maintain the willpower to stay on target, leading to splurges you can’t afford.
Instead, give yourself a little bit of fun money every month. That way, you can have a small treat on occasion, making it easier to stick with the rest of your plan.
20. Look for Programs That Can Help
If you’re lower-income, there are plenty of places where you may qualify for financial assistance or support. These programs are there to support the community, including you. Whether it’s food banks, clothing closets, discount healthcare clinics, or anything else, use the programs you’re eligible for whenever possible. That way, you have more room in your budget.