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It’s easy to save money when you’re earning a lot of it. It’s much harder to save money on with little income.
Naturally, the more money we have left over after the necessities like rent, groceries, and household bills have been paid, the more we can afford to save each month.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our monthly income just about covers these necessities, with very little expendable cash leftover afterward.
If this sounds like you, you might be tempted to think that saving money is out of the question – but you’d be wrong. It’s still very possible to save money, it just means you have to work a little harder at it.
It’s all about maximizing your earnings and reducing those necessary expenses where you can to loosen up that budget, and we’re going to show you how to do just that.
Here are 25 ways to save money on a tight budget.
1. Pick Up A Side Hustle
If your budget is tight, the easiest way to make savings is to simply earn more. If you can increase the amount of cash you’re taking home each month, you can put the extra straight into your savings pot.
Here are some of our favorites:
Part-time online teaching jobs like these can pay anything from $10 to $25 per hour, and usually don’t require you to do anything other than chat to students to help them practice their English.
Complete Paid Surveys
Some apps and websites will pay you to complete surveys. They do this in order to collect data for market research.
It might seem too good to be true, but you can legitimately earn a few hundred dollars extra each month for just filling out surveys.
We’ve made a list of 13 of the best survey apps here. To make things easier, here’s a quick list of our favorites:
Be a Freelance Writer
If you’re reasonably good at writing, you can sign up for ‘content mills’ and start getting paid to write today. You might be able to earn around $500 per month or more writing online as a side hustle.
We’ve written about this in more detail in this article, so check that out for tips!
2. Reduce Your Energy Bills
Seeing as you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to keep your energy bills as low as possible. Here are some tips that might help you to do that:
- Swap the central heating for extra-warm blankets
- Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs
- Make sure your home is properly insulated
- Don’t be over-reliant on air conditioning. If it’s warm, take a cold shower and open the windows
- Always turn off all appliances before you go out
3. Check Your Bank Statements
Many people have recurring card payments going out of their banks that they’re not even aware of. For example, their might be payments for a subscription that you forgot to cancel or a service that you no longer use.
By checking over your bank statements, you can identify any regular payments you no longer need to pay for and cancel them. This should save you a little extra each month that you can add to your savings pot!
4. Cancel All Unnecessary Expenses
Are you absolutely sure you need that Netflix subscription that you never use? Or that insurance cover for your 3-year old mobile phone?
Seriously consider all of the bills you’re paying each month and if they’re really worth the money. If you think they’re not, cancel them.
If your budget is already tight, you need to be more picky about what you pay for and save money wherever you can.
Trim is a system that helps you save money by telling you where you’re overspending and what you can cut out.
5. Stop Eating Out
According to this research study, only 10% of Americans actually like cooking, and this is a big problem for our wallets. Every time we eat out or order food in, we’re wasting money that could be going towards savings.
In fact, if you eat out just twice a week, and spend around $20 per meal, you’ll spend just short of $2,500 per year. That’s enough to fund a family vacation!
It goes without saying, then, that you should try to avoid eating out as much as possible. This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget. Keep the trips to the restaurant for special occasions and spend the rest of your time cooking at home.
6. Use Coupons
To be as frugal as possible, try to get in the habit of trying to get a discount whenever you buy anything. The easiest way to do that is by using coupons against your purchases.
That way, you can reduce your grocery budget and put more towards your savings each month.
7. Get Cashback on EVERYTHING
Ever heard of cashback apps? If not, where have you been? We’ve talked about them a lot on Frugal For Less in articles like this one as they’re one of the best ways to save money on regular purchases like groceries.
Ibotta gives you cash back on groceries each time you scan your receipt and you even get a $10 bonus when redeem your first offer.
Shopkick is an app that pays you to walk into stores, link your credit/debt card and make purchases and scan your receipts.
You can view more receipt scanning apps by viewing our full list.
It’s usually only a very small amount each time you submit a receipt, but over time, it adds up. You might be able to save $100 or more over the course of a year, which can be put towards your savings.
8. Become a Bargain Hunter
You can make your budget go further by hunting for bargains on all your expenses. This means things like:
- Shopping during the post-holiday sales
- Buying out of season
- Going grocery shopping in the late evening to take advantage of end-of-day price reductions
- Searching for deals online
- Finding promotional codes to use against your orders
- Buying second-hand goods from sites like Craigslist
9. Talk to Your Creditors
If you’re on a tight budget, it might be because a large portion of your income is allocated to paying off debts. If this is the case, you should prioritize clearing that debt as soon as possible. That way, you’ll reduce your interest rates and save more money in the long run.
You might also be able to negotiate lower repayment terms with your creditors if your circumstances have changed. If your budget is really tight, it might be worth talking to them to see what they can do.
10. Sell Your Old Stuff for Cash
If you’re struggling to save money month-to-month because you’re on a tight budget, a one-off cash injection might help.
You might be able to sell your old stuff on websites like eBay or Amazon. You can then put that money straight in a savings pot or use it to pay off debts or bills and reduce your monthly expenses.
Even items that you might not be able to sell on eBay, like old DVDs and CDs, can be sold through websites like Decluttr.
11. Get Your Family On Board
If your budget is tight, the last thing you can afford to do is spend a fortune on gifts for family members on birthdays and holidays. This might seem a little mean-spirited, so talk to them first.
Let them know that you’re on a tight budget and that, in order to make some savings, everyone needs to work together to keep costs down. It’s the thought that counts, so you could consider making each other some thoughtful gifts instead.
Having your family on board will also create a much healthier environment for saving money.
12. Make the Most of Unexpected Cash Injections
When you look at your monthly incomings and outgoings, it can often feel like there is no money left in the pot to put to one side.
While this is often true, your regular budget is unlikely to account for unexpected cash injections. This means money from lottery wins, refunds from companies, compensation claims, or even unexpectedly generous gifts from friends.
Whatever your cash injection might be, be sure to use it wisely and put it straight into your savings pot. It may not be a lot, but over the course so time, unexpected cash injections can make a big difference.
13. Find Unclaimed Money
While we’re on the theme of unexpected cash injections, you may also have money owed to you that you didn’t even know about.
In the US, property laws ensure that any lost or forgotten assets can be claimed via a government program. This could be a property that has been left to you by members of your family or friends that you weren’t aware of.
If you think this could apply to you, you can do a multi-state search by visiting Missing Money. It’s definitely worth a try and could result in a nice injection of cash into your savings pot.
14. Switch Supermarkets
If you aren’t fortunate enough to find thousands stashed away in unclaimed property, then you may have to start a little smaller when trying to free up some cash.
One great way of making savings on a tight budget is by switching supermarkets in order to save money on everyday items.
Instead of heading down to the fresh market and getting overcharged for fruits, vegetables and – well – just about everything else, switch to a cheaper store like Aldi or Woodman’s Market to make super savings on your groceries.
And another pro-tip: where possible, always buy non-branded products as they’re usually cheaper but often the same or better quality.
15. Try Carpooling
If budget shopping isn’t your thing, you could also try saving a little extra on your daily commute.
While making use of public transport isn’t always that easy in suburban areas, there are other ways to save on the cost of running your car.
Carpooling is a great way to save money on fuel and can actually be pretty fun too. If you aren’t lucky enough to have any colleagues that live in your area, don’t worry. Carpooling, as with most things nowadays, has been digitized.
You can try using carpooling or ridesharing apps to find commuting buddies. Some of the most popular apps for this are:
16. Get Used to Having Fun at Home
For most people, one of the biggest monthly expenses is entertainment. This can encompass anything from meals out to movies and nights on the town.
Instead of heading out to town on a Friday night, if you really want to save money, just hang out in the place you’ve already paid for – your house!
While it may seem a little ‘high-school’, small house parties with friends are often much cheaper than a night on the town and they’re usually more fun.
With the help of Netflix and store-bought wine, movie nights at home can also be very fun and cheap. Plus, your friends will probably be happy to save a few dollars too.
17. Use Budgeting Apps
One of the hardest things about being on a tight budget is keeping track of everything so that money doesn’t go missing.
Budgeting is no easy task, even for the most financially-minded savers out there. However, the good news is that there are a lot of nifty apps to help you to keep track and save!
Some of our favorite apps include:
Different budgeting apps work in different ways. Some of them include features that help you to invest small amounts of money each time you make a purchase.
If you’re interested in learning more about how they work, check out our best budgeting apps article here.
18. Make Money Whilst Working Out
When it comes to saving money on a tight budget, there are a lot of things you can do on your smartphone that can help.
Aside from the budgeting and investment apps that we mentioned in the last point, there are also fitness apps that will pay you to walk, run, and generally get fitter.
The most popular example of this is SweatCoin.
While people are still debating how lucrative SweatCoin actually is, it’s still a way to earn extra by doing something you would be doing anyway.
It might not be worth it for everyone, but you can decide for yourself by checking out our extensive SweatCoin review.
19. Rent Out Your Extra Space
This idea might not work for everyone, but anyone that does have extra room in their house could turn their extra space into cash. And don’t worry, we don’t expect you to rent out your room to the local students looking for a place to crash.
Sites like Airbnb are making it much easier for hosts to connect with legitimate travelers from around the world that are keen to stay with locals and have an authentic experience.
Airbnb is usually more lucrative in popular tourist areas, and it can be extremely helpful as an extra income source for people looking to make savings on their rent.
20. Consider Refinancing
One of the most common issues for people living on a tight budget is dealing with the overarching strain of debt. Debt can cause severe financial hardship and can often leave you with sleepless nights if you’re particularly low on cash.
If you’re struggling with debt, it could be a good idea to consider refinancing some of your debt to reduce the payments.
Refinancing can help you to reduce the interest rates of your existing debts which, in turn, will help you to free up a little bit of extra cash each month. As with anything finance related, be sure to do your research and make sure you’re getting a good deal before signing on the dotted line.
21. Grow your own veggies
Another unique and exciting way to save some extra cash on a tight budget is to grow your own veggies. It may not save you a huge amount of cash but it will definitely cut some dollars off your weekly food budget.
Aside from this, it’s also a fun hobby that can help to keep you occupied (and not spending money).
Homegrown veggies are also very ‘in’ right now, so if you do have a surplus of luscious crops and you don’t know what to do with them, they’re sure to turn a pretty profit at your local farmers market.
22. Consider Switching Banks
Most people will stick with one bank for the majority of their life. This is mainly because this is the easiest option, but that doesn’t make it the best option, at least not from a financial perspective.
Unfortunately, banks have a tendency to exclude existing customers from offers and promotions that they give to new customers.
Popular banks such as Chase and TD Banks can offer hefty rewards to entice new customers. This means that if you want to make a little extra cash, and you have no concrete ties to your current bank, you could consider making a switch to cash in on these promotions.
Some new banks may offer you cash rewards simply for switching. Not only this, but you may also be able to secure better rates of interest and cashback perks by switching.
23. Get Money by Referring Friends
If you do decide to switch banks, then you can also make more money by encouraging your friends to do the same.
Refer-a-friend programs can be a great way of making a little extra cash from your bank, and they aren’t all that hard to do, as your friends will likely receive a good reward from the bank for switching too.
If you’re keen to get your friends on board, have a look into what your bank offers and check out our guide to 9 banks that offer refer-a-friend rewards.
24. Change Television and Internet Providers
In the modern world, almost everybody pays for some sort of TV service or internet package, and the bad news is, they don’t come cheap. TV and internet costs can often be as high as $100+, but they don’t have to be.
Much like any other business, TV and internet companies want their customers to stay on board, so just the mere indication that they might leave and go to a different company can inspire a whole host of exciting deals and offers to be sent your way.
Talk to your provider and if they can’t reduce the price, consider switching to a different company that offers a better deal for new customers.
25. Ask For A Raise
While this idea might take a bit of courage to carry out, it might be worth a try. If you’ve worked for your company for a while and you are hardworking and conscientious, the chances are that your employer will be open to the idea of increasing your pay.
Remember that employment is a two-way street and employers will want to do their best to keep hold of good workers and ensure that they have a decent standard of living. It may not be a success, but when it comes to money, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
We’ve written a guide on how to negotiate a raise with your employer successfully here, so check that out!
And Don’t Give Up!
Our final bonus tip for you is to not give up! Saving isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a lifelong commitment.
Keep trying and stay frugal, and you’ll start seeing that bank balance climb in no time. Good luck!