Knowing how to save money on a tight budget is a very useful financial skill to have. Being frugal and saving money takes a whole another meaning when you lose your job, take a pay cut, or for some other reason your budget has to shrink.
We often do not realize that the best way to make money is to save it, not work for it. Every time you avoid paying any unnecessary bills, you could use the savings to generate more income instead of opting to find an alternative job.
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Here are 20 great ways to save money when you are on a very tight budget:
1- Return a few items in your cart
I do this all the time; when I am out shopping, I put everything I had in mind in my cart, but as I go along, I try to take a deeper look at the items in my car, figuring out if I really need it or not. Often time I end up putting a few things back.
2- Interest rates are not cast in stone
Find ways to negotiate for lower interest rates for your mortgage, car or personal loan and your credit card. High interest rates translate to higher monthly repayments. This will inevitably mean that you will have less money at hand and to save as well. Always be mindful of the bottom line. In cases where you are able to pay cash for an item, do not hesitate to do so. It will save you money you would have paid as interest on your credit card. Make sure you pay your credit card bill in full at the end of the month to avoid paying penalties on it.
3- Maintain a good credit score
By maintaining a good credit record, you will be able to get lower interest rates on future credit facilities. Maintaining good credit will require you to plan and sacrifice, in order for you to pay all your credit bills in time. At all costs, keep away from maxing out your credit card. Monitor your credit report, to ensure that no errors end up distorting your true record.
4- Do it Yourself
One of the best ways to save money is to do things yourself as much as you can. When you live on a tight budget, you need to do everything you can to survive. That includes doing more work yourself. Instead of spending few hundred dollars month hiring someone to cut your grass once a week, cut it yourself. There are lots of other things you can do yourself to eliminate those expenses.
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5- Eat at home
Constant eating out at restaurants is uneconomical, given the high cost incurred for drinks and tips. Buying endless cups of coffee and snacking when you are out can also raise your expenses over time so avoid them as much as possible. Pampering yourself on a daily basis with little things may seem harmless to begin with, but will rapidly dent your bank account. Get into the habit of saving your receipts and tally them at the end of the month. You will be in for a surprise at how much you waste.
6- Buy things that can be used for a long time
Identify what you would like to have with you for a long period of time and invest in collecting different varieties of that item. This will stop you from buying useless trinkets that add to no value to your happiness in the long run. Try not to fall prey to buying the current “it” thing. Novelty dies fast and trends change before you even know it. So instead of buying every single trendy item in the store, pick a hobby, develop a talent or become a collector. There are several hobbies you can engage in that have a smaller footprint on your bank account.
7- Cut down on your commuting costs
As often as possible, cut down on your transportation costs by using public transportation, using bicycles, walking around or carpooling. With the exorbitant fuel prices which are likely to go higher, it would be reasonable to incorporate these other forms of mobility to enable you minimize on costs. When you look at the bigger picture, not using your vehicle will enable you to save on maintenance, car payments as well as insurance costs.
8- Balance your checkbook
It’s a great habit to get into. Balancing your checkbook will allow you to keep an eye on your transactions, helping you avoid little mistakes here and there that can cost you hefty over draft fees.
9- Try online shopping
Nowadays, online shopping has become an essential aspect of every shopper’s experience. You will be able to find great discounts for items such as clothing, toys and household items. Websites such as amazon.com and eBay are must-see sites for shoppers with great bargains available at the click of a button.
10- Buy in bulk
Economies of scale dictate that the more of a unit item you buy at a time, the lesser you will be charged for it. So buy in bulk, and save a bundle. However, be careful not to stock up on unnecessary items just for the sake of bulk buying.
11- Don’t be wasteful
Get the most out of every dollar you spend by maximizing the use of the item purchased. For example, make sure you use all the shampoo in the bottle before opening up the next bottle.
12- Use cash
Since we don’t actually see cash leaving your pocket, we tend to spend more money with credit or debit cards. Keep enough cash with you daily or weekly, and convince yourself that is all you have to get through that day or week.
13- Always carry your coupons when shopping
You can save lots of money using coupons. But you never know when the opportunity to save my show up. So, try to keep your coupons with you while shopping.
14- Shop from second hand stores
One of the most ignored markets is the used goods market. All the people who fall prey to buying trendy items for no reason other than to be trendy often end up making a large portion of sellers in this market. For the bargain buyer, this would be an opportune time to purchase items you require but at a lower price altogether. Clothes, furniture, toys, video games are all available in this market. Visit thrift shops, goodwill stores, garage sales, auction sites and Craigslist.com for wonderful bargains for “like new” things.
15- Turn off the power
By conserving electricity, turning off your internet or cable when you are not home and closing all faucets, you will be able to save on your utility bills.
16- Pay your card/loan payments on time
Avoid attracting unnecessary fees by paying your annual or interest fees in time. Silly fees like late payments and overdraft fees are avoidable. Be watchful over your finances and financial obligations to avoid these types of fees.
17- Keep all your receipts
Keep your monthly receipts to enable you track exactly where your expenses are and how much you spend. Without having actual proof that you are wasting money, nobody will be able to convince you that you are.
18- Be your brother’s keeper
Find a friend and swap monthly receipts. Find innovative ways in which each of you can cut down on expenditures and make savings.
19- Avoid using your debit card unnecessarily
Allow yourself some petty cash to walk around with and stick to it. Using your debit card attracts exorbitant fees, so leave it at home.
20- Keep track of your gas purchases
Your gas expenses require to be monitored. Therefore keep your gas receipts for a period of time in order for you to have an idea about your usage. This will motivate you to use alternative forms of transport more regularly.
21- Learn to live within your means
It will not be practical to keep any money aside if what you spend is more than what you make. There is no shame in living on the bare minimal for a while, in order to get you out of this situation.
22- Save up your pocket change
Another favor it saving trick of mine is saving up all my change. It’s a great way to start a piggy bank. Do this consistently, and one day you will be surprised how much money you have saved up just by not spending your pocket change.
23- Save up for big purchases
The larger the expenditure the greater the impact it will have on your bottom line. Opting to save up and buy your car, boat, and house or to pay your college fee will in the long run be much cheaper than getting credit for them. It’s not a fast way to save money, but it’s a great long term plan. You will end up saving tens of thousands of dollars by being prudent with your finances.
24- Enroll in your local library
As a member, you will be able to borrow books and DVDs for free. Purchase books and DVDs from garage sales, and avoid buying DVDs which you will only watch once. Rent them out instead. Visit www.HalfPrice.com for used books and great bargains.
25- Buy used
Save up and buy a second hand vehicle that is in good condition, instead of paying tons for a new one. A vehicle that is in good condition and has thirty to forty five thousand miles on it will need all your transportation needs at a more affordable price.
I know often times when the talk of frugal living comes up, we are told (and believe) that we need to sacrifice sometimes. But to be honest, I personally don’t look at these things as sacrifices. I mean, there are people on this planet who are way less fortunate than us. They would kill to have what we have, even in our worst economic situation.
We, in the west, have grown to be consumers. So much so that we often forget to appreciate what we have. Thinking about other less fortunate people and their life style compared to ours, will definitely put things into perspective when dealing with the issue of saving money on a tight budget.