When you’re living on a tight budget, saving money can feel like an impossible task.
Millions of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings fund.
But making simple changes to your lifestyle and adopting proven savings techniques can free up money and make a significant impact on your savings account.
We reveal the methods that you can start using today.
10 ways to save money on a tight budget
We’ve found the best ways you can start saving money, regardless of how much you earn. Once you’ve got the cash available to save, we reveal some proven savings techniques to help you reach your goals.
Tackle big expenses first
Is your car payment too much? Could you find a cheaper place to live that’s not too far away?
You may consider these options as a last resort, however they can make a huge difference in the amount of money you save every month on bills.
Sell things you don’t use
If you’re looking for a quick solution to saving money, sell items around your home that you no longer need.
Hosting a garage sale doesn’t require much planning and can make you quite a bit of money.
Start by decluttering a room in your home at a time, cleaning and pricing each item as you go.
Advertise your garage sale in your local community by posting flyers and using Facebook community groups.
Change the way you shop
Groceries are likely to be your next biggest monthly expenditure after rent/mortgage.
Even with a carefully considered budget, it can be easy to overspend.
Here are some ways that you can cut costs at the grocery store.
Buy in bulk: items such as coffee, pet food, toilet paper and pasta work out cheaper in the long run if you buy them in bulk.
Cut down on midweek trips: stop visiting the grocery store during the week and plan your meals for at least seven days at a time.
Without a shopping list, you’re much more likely to purchase impulse items that you don’t need.
Switch to own brand items: own brand items are not only cheaper, but they probably taste the same as your favorite brands.
Give them a go and see how much you can save.
Switch to a cheaper cable service
This is such a simple money-saving tip that many people overlook it.
Or go a step further and cancel it altogether.
There are a wide variety of entertainment options and providers available that don’t charge high fees.
Negotiate your car insurance rate
Another easy way to find extra money to put into your savings account is by negotiating your car insurance rate, particularly when your policy is coming up for renewal.
The worst that can happen is your current provider says no and you find a cheaper quote elsewhere.
Shop around for cell phone deals
As with your cable and car insurance, don’t overpay on your cell phone contract.
Here are some tips to help you negotiate like a pro.
Analyze your bill: make sure you know exactly how many of your minutes and data you use each month. If you use less than your package, opt for a lower one.
Check other provider’s rates: tell your customer service representative about a better like-for-like deal that you’ve found.
Write a script: don’t get caught out by not knowing the facts beforehand. Write down everything you need to discuss so you don’t forget.
Ask to speak to supervisors: supervisors can usually offer better deals than a customer service representative.
Be willing to jump ship: be prepared to walk away if the deal you’ve been offered isn’t good enough.
Put the shopping trips on hold
A simple way of saving money on a tight budget is making lifestyle changes.
Press pause on those shopping trips with friends to remove temptation.
Saving for a new watch or handbag will be much more satisfying than getting yourself into more debt to purchase something you want.
You’ll be surprised at how much cash you can save when you only purchase things you need.
Do your own hair and nails
Swap going to the hairdressers or nail salon every two weeks to monthly.
By doing your own hair and nails in between you can quickly save a significant amount of cash.
Cut your utility usage
Unfortunately, your utility bill isn’t one that you can get rid of completely, but there are lots of ways that you can lower it.
Simply turning down your thermostat slightly can save you hundreds of dollars every year.
Investing in a programmable thermostat will allow you to turn down your heating while you’re out, and set it to come back on just before you get home.
Making other small changes such as turning the lights off in empty rooms and only washing full loads of laundry can make a big difference to your utility bill.
Cut each spending category by $5-$10
If you’ve already eliminated unnecessary spending from your budget, try saving small amounts from each of your spending categories. For example, drop a few items from your grocery shop or reduce your fuel bill by walking instead.
It can be surprising how saving a few dollars from each category can turn into a decent amount of money.
Automatically transfer the cash you’ve saved into a separate account and watch your savings fund build up.
Savings techniques that actually work
Now you’ve done the hard part and used our living on a tight budget tips, it’s time to make sure you save the spare money.
Pay yourself first
Ideally, try to save at least 10% of your monthly income to put into a separate savings account.
If this is not possible, put aside what you can afford.
By doing this at the start of the month, you won’t get tempted to spend that money on something else.
Make saving automatic so you don’t have to think about it.
Set savings goals
What do you want to save for? Whether it’s a vacation, home improvements or saving for retirement, having a goal will make it more likely that you will achieve it.
Once you’ve written down your goals, set a realistic timescale and work out how much you will need to save monthly to meet it.
Save virtual change
Saving loose change has always been a powerful way to budget and save.
Now money is digital, all you need to do is round up your purchases to the next dollar and put the difference in a savings account.
For example, you spend $87 on your weekly grocery shop. After your shop, transfer $3 into your savings account.
You will be surprised at how the odd cent can quickly add up over the months.
Try a savings challenge
Pick a savings challenge that appeals to you the most and kick start your savings.
The no-spend challenge: this is one of the most popular and effective spending challenges.
Set an amount of time and don’t spend any extra money on non-essentials for that period.
This savings challenge is great for people who live on a tight budget as you can do it for as long or as short of a time period that you want.
Gas, groceries, rent/mortgage and other bills count as essential, but eating out, home improvements and shopping don’t.
52-week money challenge: this method gradually increases the amount you deposit each week for one year. If you feel that 52 weeks is a bit of a stretch, try 26 weeks to start with.
1 = $1
2 = $2
3 = $3
4 = $4
And so on.
You can save money on a tight budget
There are lots of ways to save money on a tight budget that doesn’t involve anything drastic.Start by picking a couple of the tips above and begin saving right now. For more budgeting and saving advice, take a look at our collection of personal finance articles.