This post may contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.In my younger years, I would frivolously spend money just because I finally had money to spend. Obviously, the savings concept was completely foreign to me.
One of the main reasons that basic money principles need to be taught in school (or at least basic concepts of save, give, and the true cost of debt). Read more about the Cents Plan Formula.
I was caught in the trap of overspending! That was until, I met my husband (AKA the saver).
Believe me, it was a colliding of how to handle money. Something that took time to work through. For those trying to read in between the lines, it didn't take a month for us to come together on how we save money and how we spent money. It was a process over a couple of years. Still to this day, we refine our spending and saving habits.
The issue still remains… how to save money on a tight budget?
Can I learn how to live on a budget and save money?
Are there ways to make saving easier?
The answer is YES!
With these living on a tight budget tips, across every income level, there are ways to save money.
Personally, my biggest money regret is not saving a set percentage of my income like is discussed in the Cents Plan Formula. The simple reason is I have nothing to show for all of that money wasted. Yes, I took some big trips and made memories, but those cost a fraction of everything I spent. Money mistake learned.
Everyone has the reasons for wanting to save money.
You can learn how to save money when you are broke and how to save money on a low income.
Obstacles to Saving Money on a Tight Budget
There are many reasons that people avoid saving money.
The Word – Budget
The primary reason most people don't like the idea of a budget is they feel constricted. Like there isn't enough money to go around.
The give up before they truly started because it is too hard to spend less money.
At Money Bliss, we like to call a budget – a Cents Plan – put your cents (money and head sense) and make a plan with your money.
The #1 purpose of a budget is to make sure you are spending less money than you bring in.
Plain and simple.
Where most people mess up (including me in my earlier days) is not including saving as part of my spending and my budget.
Now, saving is the first priority when we set up our budget. Pay ourselves first. Hint: Move money here.
Budget Related Articles:
- How to Budget Money and Still Enjoy Life
- 9 Surprising Advantages of Budgeting your Money
- How to Save Money Fast – Save $1,000 in a Month
- 9 Habitual Things I Do To Save Money
- Full List of Budgeting Apps on the Market
When you have been deemed to have “low income,” it is like a negative label being attached to you. In the book, Dirt. Cheap. Adult., the author describes how they managed to live on $16,000 for one full year (while still finding balance with a healthy lifestyle). You can read my full review here.
The obstacle to a low income is NOT the amount of money brought in each month, but in actually, it is the negative label associated with it.
You must change your money mindset in order to be successful and break out of the bondage of the negative label. This is one of the biggest money mistakes you can make.
What is causing you to be constantly broke?
Think about it.
Seriously. What is your reason to be broke and living paycheck to paycheck?
This is a serious money issue that spans across many income levels.
Let's put it this way… If you never have any money left when you make $60,000 (average household income), then why would you expect to have money left when you are making $80,000 or $110,000 or $175,000 or $250,000? Your spending habits will continue – just on a grander and more expensive scale.
It is time to tame the spending to under what you are making. Period. That is the fastest way to stop the constantly broke syndrome.
While trimming expenses isn't a fun thing to do because you must say no to yourself. Remember, this is just can last forever or just be a season.
Related Reading: How to Overcome When Ends Don't Meet
Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Look at Big Expenses
Too many times, we try to nickel and dime every small expense while yes that helps in the end. It doesn't make as significant of progress as addressing the big expenses.
For most people, the big expenses take up 40-70% of their budget.
Big Expense Categories:
Right now, we are going to focus on housing and auto costs. Later on, we will discuss debt in its own section. Filing taxes is just a part of life, so that number is what it is.
As you can see in the ideal household budget percentages, housing expenses and the costs of owning a vehicle can get expensive.
These are the biggest areas that you can save money on a tight budget.
Possible Options to Save Money:
- Downsize to a smaller payment? Rent in a cheaper area?
- Move to a low cost of living area?
- Live with one car instead of two? Get rid of all cars and use public transportation?
- Increase your homeowner's or auto deductible to save on premiums?
- Pay off your mortgage sooner and save thousands of dollars on interest?
Trim Small Categories
Now, it is time to look at everything else.
Is it possible to trim $5 off every category?
That is a simple way to save money when on a tight budget. Honestly, $5 will not make that big of difference anyway.
Maybe it is completely stop allocating money to some categories?
That is what we did over the past weekend. In order to stay within budget and our visions, we completely stopped allocations to certain categories. In the end, will we miss it? Probably not.
By trimming small categories, it is an easy way to trim $100-500 a month off of your budget.
This is the #1 area people are SHOCKED to learn how much they actually spend.
If you don't believe me, look through your spending on your bank accounts and credit cards for one month and add it up.
This is one of the hottest topics that I speak about at local community groups – how to spend less on groceries.
In order to be successful however, you must be willing to put in the effort to lower the amount spent on groceries.
For a family of four people, we typically spend about $550-600 a month on groceries. This is about half maybe even one-third less than many American families. In the below posts, I detail on how we spend less (plus we eat a really healthy – not processed diet).
Related Articles to Spend Less on Groceries:
- Strategies to Lower Grocery Budget. Easy. Quick. Simple.
- 53 Items Not to Buy at the Grocery Store
- Earn Money with Cash Back Apps for Groceries
- Meal Planning 101 (plus save money each week)
- Are Meal Plan Subscriptions Worth the Cost?
Unwind Amazon Purchases
Amazon makes life super easy! I get it. I love being an Amazon Prime member and don't plan on changing it.
However, I make sure that my Amazon purchase is – 1 – something we actually need (not want) and – 2 – something we can actually afford and pay in cash. If it doesn't meet the above qualifications, I skip it.
When I was reading lately, I read that a couple spent an absurd amount of money on Amazon in a year. Of course, I can't find where I read it, but I am pretty sure the number was in the ballpark of $10,000. Plus most purchases were under the $20 mark.
Those pennies add up quickly.
In order to stop overspending at Amazon, here are quick tips:
- Use a Spending Wish List (free printable in our resource library)
- Use Amazon Allowance – once it is gone, it is gone
- Delete payment information – then, you have to find your wallet
While Amazon makes online shopping easy, don't let the convenience ruin your tight budget.
See if you qualify for Amazon Prime Discounted Monthly Offering.
Cutting cable is one of the simplest way to save money on a tight budget.
These one budget item costs most families $1,000 to over $2,000 in the course of a year.
Even if you aren't ready to give up cable completely, you can pause your account for up to 3 months at a time. (Of course, the cable companies have the ability to change this policy at any time.) But, it is a great way to see if you are capable of living without TV for a time period or even a summer off.
If you are looking to cut the cord, here are some products to make the process easy.
Renegotiate Insurance Rates
Yep, this is one of the “boring” tasks I refer to in how to organize personal finances. But, it is truly a necessity.
Plus it is one of the easiest ways to save money on a tight budget without changing anything in your life.
All that is changing is who insurances your home/apartment, your car, and your life. Maybe you are just changing the deductible or paying on an annual money to save money.
No Preschool or Less Kid's Activities
Many people gasp at this one! However, it is a simple way to save money on a tight budget.
Today's society, it seems mandatory to send kids to preschool at the ripe age of 1 years old. By the time that kid starts kindergarten, it is easy to spend $10,000 & up. In just paying for preschool. That money may be better spent on college. In fact, should parents pay for college?
Kid's activities add up! And quickly, too!
Find a balance on what you can truly afford and what activities your kids really want to participate in.
For us, now that we are debt free, we still skip on many sports pictures and class pictures. That one frugal tricks saves us easily a couple hundred dollars each year. Don't worry, we still spend money on those funny looking school pictures and a school yearbook.
This is one area it is easy to get caught up in the comparison trap with societal norms. But, remember your finances come first.
Don't sacrifice your financial independence if you can't afford to pay for kid's activities with cash.
Say No to Services
Paying for someone else to do things you can do comes at a price. When you are looking to save money on a tight budget, then the time is now for do-it-yourself (DIY).
Let the following services go:
- Nail Treatments
- Mowing the Lawn
Move over hired help and bring on how-to videos on YouTube.
Seriously, there are tons of helpful videos to do everything yourself. Even better, ask a friend or neighbor for help (this is what people did before the internet).
This is a simple way to start saving money on any budget.
Eating Out Less
Eating out is so easy after a long day or an evening filled with activities. Not having to cook and clean is such a nice treat.
However, eating out has turned into the norm in American society rather than a treat.
In order to save money on a tight budget, it is necessary to make eating out a treat! Not a quick pick-up of food because everyone is hungry.
No matter what I try to do… everyone starts getting hungry in my house around 4:30 pm without fail. GUARANTEED! It is like clockwork. Everyday everyone is hungry.
In order to overcome the obstacles of I know meal planning 101 is a must! Not only do we save money, but we also eat healthier as well.
Meal Planning Resources:
- Meal Planning 101 (plus save money each week)
- Are Meal Plan Subscriptions Worth the Cost?
- Best Kitchen Gadgets Under $20 For Healthy Eating
Cash is king!
By using cash, it provides an easy way to save money on a tight budget. When the cash is gone, it is gone.
This is where discipline steps in, so you don't make a serious money mistake and pay in some other method or move cash from one category to another.
It is easier to track spending when using cash than any other method. Don't let your eyes deceive you.
If you don't know what a spending freeze is, then read the ultimate guide to a spending freeze.
If you have contemplated a spending freeze before, then there is no better way to start now! It is a great way to kickstart how to live on a budget and save money.
The time frame is up to you. If you need to save money fast, then a spending freeze is a great way to go. Also, a spending freeze will help you determine what is truly important to you or not.
In all honesty, we are always on a spending freeze with our grocery budget. With a growing family, it seems like if we don't actively manage how much we spend at the grocery store, then we will be over budget.
Do you need a spending freeze this year?
This one is kinda of a catch 22. Payoff debt yet on a tight budget with little extra money to go around.
However, by eliminating debt payments, you will free up money each and every month to go towards something else.
So a little temporary pain and saying no, leads to financial freedom and becoming debt free. While this is a trade-off, I always like to call the debt payoff – just a season. You can learn more about making sure your debt payoff is just a season and not a money mistake.
The entire reason we paid off debt was because we wanted $500 each and every month to go towards something else. Over $6,000 a year to be used in some other way. Read our debt free story in one year.
If you are broke, low income, or living paycheck to paycheck, by finally eliminating debt for good, it will greatly improve your personal finance situation. In the end, it is the easiest and long-lasting way to save money on a tight budget.
Useful Resources to Debt Payoff:
- How to Get Out of Debt in 5 Easy Steps
- Consolidating Debt 101: What You Should Know
- Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche – Which Method is Best?
- Are You Making One of these Common Debt Payoff Mistakes
- More resources on Cash Flow Killer (DEBT)
Recap – Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Above, we outlined plenty of ways to save on a tight budget. Save money on a low income. Even, how to save money when you are broke.
The key is putting the above tips in action. Don't just sit idly by and do nothing.
Action makes progress.
If you want to see change in your personal finances, then pick a few of these suggestions and work on them. Once you master those, then come back and work on more.
Bit by bit you will see progress of saving money on a tight budget.
Maybe in a few months, your tight budget will be self-induced because you are starting to save a greater percentage of your paycheck.
The end goal is financial freedom.
The way to get there is to live on a budget and save money.
Committed to change your finances, here is your must read: Money Bliss Steps to Financial Freedom.