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11 Ways to save money on a tight budget

minute read

    Finding new ways to save money on a tight budget may be challenging. But with a few tools, tips and techniques at your disposal, you might be able to find some ways to save. Let’s start by brushing up on some financial fundamentals and looking at a few tips on budgeting.

    1. Tracking expenses

    Expense tracking is key to making budgets work. Tracking expenses might highlight spending habits that went unnoticed and reveal where minor adjustments can potentially free up funds.

    2. Identifying essentials

    Prioritizing important expenses first is the core of any financial management system. One way to start is by looking at your tracked expenses and differentiating between essentials and non-essentials. Essentials are the expenses necessary for your daily living, like food, housing and healthcare. Non-essentials are the extra items or services that are less crucial, such as entertainment subscriptions or certain recreational activities.

    While essentials are non-negotiable, some strategic planning could help reduce their costs and net potential savings. When it comes to groceries, meal planning around ingredients on sale or minimizing waste from prep work might help get more bang for your buck. For utilities, simple changes like reexamining your water usage habits or investigating your home’s insulation might help save money over time. You may also want to prioritize building an emergency fund to reduce the likelihood of accruing higher-interest debt in the case of a financial emergency.

    3. Setting achievable saving goals

    Goals may give your saving more direction and focus. Generally, they’re more effective when they are achievable and highly specific — especially when funds are limited. Achievable financial goals are grounded in your current situation and consider your income, expenses and overall financial obligations. Many budgeters use the SMART goals framework, which helps create saving goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Instead of a general goal, like “save more money,” a SMART one might be to save a set amount by a specific date.

    4. Strategic shopping

    A key step in learning how to budget and save money is forming better shopping habits. Shopping strategically means making more informed spending decisions that maximize the value of your purchase. Savvy shoppers have a variety of ways to save money on groceries, from using coupons to looking for deals, but two tactics remain the bedrock of most shopping strategies: comparing prices and buying in bulk.

    Price comparison means checking the cost of the same item at different stores or online platforms. This may help you find a better deal, potentially saving significant amounts over time, and is particularly useful for regular purchases. Nowadays, various apps and websites can help you compare prices quickly and plan your purchases accordingly.

    Price comparison ties into bulk-buying, too. When comparing prices, remember to check the item’s cost per unit. Some items may have a higher sticker price on the shelf but lower cost per unit, especially when packaged in larger quantities. This makes buying in bulk a potentially great way to save money on nonperishables or items you use frequently.

    5. Clamping down on household costs

    Beyond specific measures like optimizing energy and water use, staying cost-aware across household spending may alert you to potential opportunities to save. Regularly shopping around for products and services you’re already using — like cable, internet plans, phone plans and other recurring charges — may help you spot a new deal or more valuable option that could reduce routine costs.

    6. Stopping impulse buys

    The impulse buy may be a curse for many budgeters. Measures like shopping lists, accountability partners or mandatory waiting periods on unplanned purchases may go a long way toward warding off impulsive spending. Identifying personal triggers that lead to impulse buying may help stop impulsive purchases before they happen. This generally involves recognizing situations and emotions that seem to encourage spontaneous spending and learning to navigate them.

    7. Prioritizing high-interest debt

    Many budgeters have debt repayments like student loans to consider when planning their finances. Prioritizing high-interest debts first may help save money over time. As the interest accrues, it may increase your overall debt.

    A fundamental approach to debt prioritization is to make minimum payments on all debts while allocating any additional funds toward debts with the highest interest rates. Once cleared, the focus shifts to the next highest interest rate. This may help reduce your debt faster than spreading out debt repayments evenly across all debts, irrespective of interest rate.

    8. Consolidating debt

    Another potential method for managing debt is debt consolidation. This involves combining multiple debts into a single loan, typically with a lower overall interest rate, helping to simplify your repayments and potentially reduce the total interest paid. Instead of juggling several payments with varying interest rates and due dates, you only have one payment to focus on. This may help reduce the likelihood of missed or late payments.

    9. Finding community support networks

    For those wondering how to save money and pay bills, many community support networks and assistance programs exist to help families manage challenging financial circumstances. These include utility assistance programs for household bills, free or low-cost health-care services and educational support. Using these resources may help provide some financial relief and access to additional support systems. Reaching out to nearby community centers or checking online for local resources may connect you with valuable support systems.

    10. Picking up side hustles and part-time gigs

    Saving money on a tight budget can be supported with supplemental income. Side hustles and part-time jobs can be a practical way to generate supplemental income. If you have a vehicle, ride sharing or food delivery may be a flexible way to earn extra cash on the side. Certain hobbies or skill sets — like handmade goods, tutoring services or freelance design and writing work — may be ways to increase your income. Some part-time jobs in industries like retail, customer service or hospitality may offer similar flexibility to work around other commitments, making them potentially worth considering for people with existing full-time employment and other responsibilities.

    11. Skilling up

    Developing new skills or enhancing existing abilities may be worthwhile depending on your personal circumstances. Enhancing your skillset may make you more marketable, meaning better job prospects or higher earning potential. Many skills can be developed through self-learning through low- or no-cost online resources.

    Local community colleges, libraries and community centers often offer complimentary or affordable courses and workshops. Programs aimed at subjects and skills relevant to the current job market can not only help you skill up, they may also offer valuable networking opportunities.

    In summary

    To find new ways to save money on a tight budget, it’s generally helpful to start by getting a handle on the current state of your personal finances. This means reviewing your expenditures, taking your specific goals and timelines into consideration, and identifying any spending patterns that could use an adjustment.


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