Need ways to save money on a tight budget so that you can work yourself out of your current situation? Maybe even save up an emergency fund? I've got you covered.
Have you thought in the past that there just aren’t any good ways to save money on a tight budget?
When you’re hardly making it to your next paycheck, let alone setting aside any money for yourself in a savings account, then it can feel like that.
But I can tell you – with confidence + experience – that there are lots of ways to still save money, even if you’re living from one paycheck to the next and not sure where next month’s new kid expense is going to come from.
Let me share 25 of these strategies with you, below.
25 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Your budget is tight, but you still want to save money? Bravo, you! Let me help you get to where you want to be.
- Bank your Work Reimbursements: If you have to pay for work expenses out of pocket and submit reimbursements, then you’ll need to wait for the payment. That means you’ve taken care of that paycheck cycle’s bills or that month’s bills without the need of this money (since you already spent it, and time has passed). So, when the money does come to you, send it straight to your savings account.
- Shop Around for Your Next Surgery: Yes, you heard me right. For your next surgery (that ISN’T an emergency – I did this with hernia operation costs), you need to do some price comparisons to see where you can get it done in a way that doesn’t kill your wallet.
- Use a Bank Opening Bonus: This is a really easy way to score several hundred dollars for just a little bit of your time (opening a new account and funding it from another savings account you have – just move the money over). I’ve used it to jump-start savings goals, like when I opened up an account with a $250 bonus to start our honeymoon savings! You’ll need to keep the money in this new savings account for the period of time the bank tells you in order to reap the bonus money, such as 90 days, 3 months, or 6 months. Here’s much more info on how to figure out if a bank opening bonus is worth it.
- Sign Up for SaverLife.Org: If you’re 18 or over, a United States citizen, you have a savings account and use online banking, and you’ve got a valid email address, then you’re eligible for SaverLife.org’s savings match program! You can get up to a $10 match/month for six months on money that you save yourself (you have to save $20/month). At the end of the six months, you’ll have $240 in total, of which $60 was from the nonprofit EARN.
- Ask for a Generic Prescription: Call your doctor’s office and ask if there’s a generic medication you can take to replace one of the ones you have right now (that you’re paying a higher copay on).
- Change up Gift-Giving in Your Family: If you’re like me, then you have about 15 kids to buy Christmas presents for (not to mention, birthday presents throughout the year). Approach your family and ask if they’d like to choose names this coming holiday season. This will help with holiday budgeting.
- Change Up Gift-Giving, Tip #2: Get really good at making something, and then make it for lots of people for your next holiday. For example, my friend made homemade lotion/homemade deodorant/homemade lip balm, etc., then gifted these to several people. They were awesome and totally chemical-free! One year, I made several sets of wine charmers, and gave those out as gifts. Not only will this simplify the holidays for you, but it will likely save you money.
- Play the Rebate Shuffle: If you purchase products that yield rebates, stay within your budget when doing so. Then, when the rebate check comes in the mail, deposit it into savings. This is a way to squeeze more savings out of a tight budget, as you still purchased the product you needed within the budget you were given, and can now funnel that money to a “For Keeps” account.
- Start a Change Jar: Put all your spare change (get your kids to look in couches periodically, and under your car seats) in one location. Every six months to a year, deposit it at your bank.
- Cap the Number of New Recipes You Try: I just love trying new recipes. But what I find is, if I try out 3-5 new recipes each grocery cycle, I end up buying “one-off” ingredients that we ONLY need for those recipes and the bill comes in much higher. Now, I limit myself to trying out just 1-2 new recipes each grocery cycle (we grocery shop every other week).
- Grocery Shop Every Other Week: The more times you’re in the store, the more you’ll be exposed to things to buy and give into those temptations. Not only that, but grocery shopping every other week forces you to make a meal plan (which is another GREAT way to save money).
- Build Savings by Helping Others Save: Last year, the awesome bank our savings account is with (PurePoint Financial) sent out an email with a referral link. For every person we referred who also opened up an account, they would give us $200 in our savings account, and the person would receive $200! How amazing is that? We were allowed to refer up to 6 people. Look for an opportunity like this with your own bank, where you earn money for your own savings by referring friends and family (I know Digit.co also has a referral program, where you get $5 added to your savings account for every referral you give who opens an account).
- Find a Substitute for One Thing: Did you know that you could use Interlibrary loan to get most of the DVDs you want through Netflix (nixing your Netflix subscription, and banking that money instead)? What else could you find a free substitute for?
- Become a One Car Family: I’m serious about this one – my husband and I have been driving one car for over a year now (both our cars were flooded during Hurricane Harvey + a flash flood three weeks later). I drive him to work each day, and pick him up at night, giving us an extra 2 hours of time with him each day. We also have been a one car family before when a beater car of ours has died, for a few months at a time (even though we had two different jobs at the time). It can be done, and you’ll save insurance, some gas costs, and some oil change costs, all of which you can dedicate to your savings account.
- Grow Your Savings through Internet Search Earnings: You can sign up for Swagbucks.com, and search the internet through them. Periodically, you win SwagBucks, which you can then redeem for actual cash (by PayPal). For every 5,000 points, you can get $50 in PayPal cash, or you can cash in at 2,500, or 10,000 points. Stick this money in your savings account!
- Check Money Saving Websites Daily: Sites like MoneySavingMom.com publish AWESOME deals for quality products and items you need/want anyway, at crazy great prices, all throughout the day. You want to go to these often so that you can get what you need for cheap or free. In fact, she’s got a section of her site for freebies and giveaways ONLY, so you can just stick to that for a while!
- Share a Service with Another Family: You can share magazine subscriptions (I give away the magazines I’ve read all the time!), carpooling to the same school/daycare, etc.
- Go for a Gift-Free Birthday: Leading up to your next birthday, sign up for birthday freebies (such as a free Starbucks drink to your liking, and a free scoop of Baskin-Robbins ice-cream. I even once got a free set of pearl earrings at a jewelry store!). Then, use those treats for your birthday gift instead of buying yourself something.
- Host an Online Yard Sale (with proceeds going to your Savings account): I’ve had some success with online yard sales – essentially going through our stuff, and taking pictures/pricing them for Facebook sell groups all at once, for a duration of time – in the past. Could be a nice jumpstart to cushion your savings.
- Price Shop, One Item at a Time: You’ve got to get your savings money from somewhere – so look around and make a list of what you consume on a regular basis. Then, go down the list one-by-one to do some price shopping. For example, start by price shopping your pet food/medications/needs, then price shop your prescriptions (yes, different pharmacies charge different prices! Also, check out what the heck gag clauses are – it could save you money), then price shop oil changes, then price shop whatever is next on your list. Three places to check are the cost of buying it online, buying it in bulk (like at a membership store), and buying it at a competitor’s store. Small changes, over time, will add up to big savings!
- Do a No-Spend Challenge: There are some awesome no-spend challenges out there, whether you want to do a no-spend weekend, no-spend week, or even a no-spend year!
- Get the Kids Involved: You should involve your kids in the money saving process. Not only will it help get everyone onboard, but they need to learn about how to stretch money from somewhere, right? Might as well let them help you save it by doing things like scanning in your receipts to cash-back apps (I use CoinOut – I’m up to $22.36), have them hang up laundry on the laundry line, give them a small bonus each time they don’t leave the lights on (or charge them $0.25 every time you find a light left on), etc.
- Crowdsource Date Night Childcare: My husband and I made a weekly date night a priority in our marriage after our little guy was born, and it’s been a game-changer. We don’t go out often (probably just 1-2 date nights out a month) – most are at home date nights. However, couples from our church group let us know that they used to do a childcare ring for date nights, where each couple took a turn watching another couple’s kids so that everyone got to go on date night without paying $30+ to a babysitter. Nice!
- Cut Two Things Out of Your Grocery Buying: If you could get rid of two unhealthy things from your diet, while simultaneously saving money, would you do it? How about you nix two of any of the following completely from your home – soda, chips, ice-cream, frozen meals, crackers, etc.
- Stop Using Plastic: The stats are in, and it’s well known now that if you use credit cards (or plastic, in general) to pay for things, you will spend more money. It’s because parting with actual dollar bills is harder to do than swiping a card. Don’t believe me? Go one month with paying in cash, and then compare your spending with the previous month. We did, and decided to use a hybrid spending strategy with cash and credit from here on out.
So, still wondering ‘how can I save money on a low income'? Block off one hour in your calendar, once a week, for the next four weeks to put these actions above into ACTION. The savings will start to come.