Ways to save money on a tight budget.
Finding ways to save money on a tight budget has become so important during these uncertain times. Three months ago, I was looking forward to our summer vacation plans with my family. I was asking the questions: Where should we go? Who should we invite? How much money am I going to need to save? Can I buy a smaller swimming suit because I am slowly but surely taking off the extra weight? Can I find ways to save money on a tight budget?
My husband and I went out of the country to celebrate our wedding anniversary. While we were away, everything changed. The epidemic had not hit Mexico yet. However, in a matter of 48 hours, millions of people were out of jobs. Particularly people in the service industry. That included 3 of my 4 kids.
When my husband and I returned, we learned that our income may be taking a nose dive with the service industry taking such a big hit. Now the questions I asked myself were:
How am I going to save money on a smaller income? Am I going to have a job in the near future? (I am a teacher) Is my husband going to be able to work? (He works in construction) Are we even going to be able to save any money? Are we even going to be able to go on a summer vacation? What about my kids? Are they going to still have a job? What is school going to look like for them?
Even though I didn’t know what the future would hold, I decided to stay positive and continue to prepare for uncertainty. I decided that saving as much money as I could was not only essential, but there was really nothing else to do. We were going to have a lot of time on our hands.
Is Saving Money Important on a Tight Budget?
In uncertain times, having a rainy-day fund is essential. Not enough Americans are saving money. A study showed that few American’s could come up with $2,000 in 30 days (Lusardi et al). It is important to not only prepare for unexpected shocks, but we also need to plan for the long run.
Where Do I Start Saving Money on a Tight Budget?
Set up a budget
A Gallup poll found that only about 1/3 of Americans (32%) maintain a household budget. A 2017 report in MarketWatch found that half of American households currently live paycheck to paycheck. When we don’t know how we are spending our money, it is difficult to figure out ways to save money on a tight budget. We need to budget our money.
As you know, a budget is a plan or estimate of the amount of money you need for your family to live on each month. It could also be the money needed for a specific purpose like a family vacation. A good budget is determining how much money your family makes in a month and then subtract all of the expenses in a month. Hopefully, there is something left over.
When planning for events like gifts for holidays or a family trip, an example of budgeting would be how much is the vacation or gifts going to cost, and how much needs to be saved in order to go on the vacation or purchase gifts. If it will be too difficult to save for a vacation, consider a staycation.
Knowing that 32% of American live from paycheck to paycheck, it is safe to say that most Americans either need to increase their income or decrease their expenses. I know I wasn’t going to increase my income any time soon, so I thought I would be able to decrease expenses.
Here are some ways to save money on a tight budget that I was able to do in the last couple of months.
Things to stop buying to save money
- Books – I love reading books. I love buying books from Amazon and other book stores. So I am borrowing books from friends and the library (when they open again)
2. Groceries every day – I only go to the store once a week and stick to a grocery list. There are some great meal plans that will make grocery shopping easier.
3. Cute items that just clutter the house – I love candles, cute decorative pillows, blankets, and stuff in general that makes the house a little homier. This is a great time to get rid of stuff and declutter and not add to it.
4. Satellite tv or cable – It is easy to spend hundreds of dollars a month on satellite and cable subscriptions instead consider cheaper alternatives like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
5. Gym memberships – Gyms are now opening back up, but there are plenty of ways to workout at home for free with Youtube videos and good old fashioned workouts like running, lifting weights.
6. Items I need that are not on sale – If it isn’t for sale, like that swimming suit I have my eye on, then wait until it is on sale or if you can’t wait, then choose a cheaper alternative.
7. Bottled water – I never really understood why any one would buy bottled water unless they lived in or were visiting a country with poor water quality. Filtered water from your refrigerator works great. Fill up those stainless steel or other safe water bottles instead.
8. Brand specific food – Buy the cheaper version or no named brand version of popular cereals like Fruity Pebbles and canned foods like Campbells soup.
9. Impulse shopping – Even that morning beverage and donut adds up. If this is a problem for you…Just stop doing that! An apple and a huge glass of water is a cheaper and healthier alternative.
10. Fast food – With meal planning, those trips to the fast food drive up will become obsolete. There are many great meal planning systems to save time and money.
11. Going out to lunch – Bring a sack lunch instead. Here are some fun lunch box notes you can put in your spouse and kids lunches to make them feel special. (lunch box notes)
12. Dryer sheets – With studies coming out saying how unhealthy dryer sheets are, we use wool dryer balls instead.
You can make your clothes smell terrific by putting essential oils on the balls before putting them in the dryer
13. Magazine subscriptions – I haven’t had a magazine subscription in years. The library and book stores have a magazine rack. Spend a few minutes thumbing through your favorite magazine.
14. Decreased spending on entertainment etc. – Consider a NO spend weekend. Instead of going out on the town where you are spending money on food, drinks, travel, babysitting, etc. Consider staying at home for the weekend once or twice a month. There are many activities you can do at home.
Things to start doing to save money
So we talked about some things we can stop buying to save money, let’s talk about some other ways to save money on a tight budget. These include things that we can start doing today to save money on any budget.
15. Stick to a budget – Most financial institutions have apps that will track your expenses. Work on spending less than you did the month before and with the money that you saved, but into a savings account like smarty pig
16. Forced Savings – I have started doing this and I have saved thousands of dollars over the last several months. I have a certain amount of money taken out of my checking account in 2 monthly increments and have that money put into my Smarty Pig account. It happens automatically when I set up my Smarty Pig account.
17. Get new car insurance. – The main benefit of switching car insurance providers is that you will be saving money on your monthly premiums. If any life circumstances have happened recently that impact your car insurance, maybe you bought a new car, added a new person to your policy or you moved, there is good possibility you’ll be able to find a better rate.
As the commercial goes, you can save hundreds on car insurance.
18. Skip the vacation – Consider doing a staycation instead. Visit an amusement park, go on a hike and picnic, stay at a nearby hotel and pretend you are a tourist. There are many ways to have fun with the family at home.
19. Car pool or consider public transportation – Does a co worker live close to you? Or even halfway to work? Try carpooling. How about public transportation? You can completely get rid of car expenses by taking the train, or bus. It is at least looking into right?
20. Grow a Garden – Growing my own vegetables and fruits have been such a blessing for me and my family financially. We have all of the potatoes, onions and zucchini and squash we have needed and more for the entire year. Talk about savings!
Money Savings Challenge
As I said at the beginning of this article, A study done by Lusardi et al showed that few American could come up with $2,000 in 30 Days. Check out our Money Saving Challenge. I am sure that by implementing some of the ways to save money on a tight budget you will be one of those people, no matter what country you live in who could easily save money and be on your way to a more financially independent future.
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