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Easy Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

By Edited May 26, 2016 6 13

Easy Ways to Save Money

Reduce Debt

Learn how to save money and avoid debt!

Many Americans are looking for ways to save money fast during these difficult economic times.  We often fall into the trap of feeling that our current spending level is the best we can do.  However, with a little creativity, it is possible to find easy ways to save money and economize whenever you are feeling a budget pinch, whether it is caused by a lost job, reduced salary, or simply because your oldest child is going off to college.  I have known people who have used many of these money savers, and have discovered that they are quite effective. 


Save money and avoid debt!


One way to save money on utilities is to give up your cable or satellite television.  This does not mean that you will no longer be able to watch TV.  Thanks to the nationwide switch to digital TV that was completed in June of 2009, approximately 99% of U.S. television households can get at least one local station over the air, and almost 90% can get five or more stations.  Your daytime shows might not be in high definition, but many of your evening shows will be.  Many young adults have given up their cable TV, and found that they feel very little loss, especially since they are still able to rent DVDs, or stream movies and televisions shows directly to their computers.



Another step you might take, if you have a cell phone, is to consider giving up your land line.  Many Americans, especially young adults, have already made the switch and discovered that they do not miss having a land line.  In fact, it is easier for them to deal with only one phone number.  If you do keep your land line, switch to the least expensive telephone service possible that meets your needs.  Also, call local service providers to see if you can get a package deal for cell service, cable service and your computer connection.  Many people waste money by buying these services separately. Comparison shop for the best price on cell service, too. You may not need unlimited texting, long distance or some of the other services that you are paying for.  Some service providers offer excellent low-cost service that could be adequate for your needs.


If money is especially tight, you can economize on housing by moving someplace less expensive, getting a roommate or taking in a boarder.  A teacher at the school where I work regularly rents out her spare bedroom to foreign students attending a nearby university.  She enjoys their company, as well as the extra money. Another way to reduce your house payment is to refinance.  It is not too late to refinance and, in some cases, an ARM might save you money, especially if you expect to move in a few years.  If you want to stay where you are and you have extra space, but do not want to deal with someone else living with you, it is possible to rent out a room, basement space, attic or garage to someone who only wants storage space!  List your available storage space at sparefoot.com or storeatmyhouse.com.


Lower your grocery and food expenses by learning to cook at home rather than eat out.  Preparing your own food includes your morning cup of coffee or latte, as well as taking your lunch to work.  You can also save money on groceries by clipping coupons from the free flyers that are delivered with your mail.  If you’re organized, try websites such as couponmom.com or grocerycoupons.com to find coupons for the items you normally buy.  You might also want to give store brands a try.  Often they are made at the same factories as the premium brands, and there is little or no difference in quality.  Store brands can frequently be purchased at a considerable discount.

A simple way to reduce your food budget is to eat what you buy.  This seems like a simple enough action to take.  Sadly, however, Americans throw away tons of food every year.  Canned goods are often left sitting on shelves for years.  When you go shopping, ask yourself if you think you will eat this food within the next week.  If not, postpone buying it until you do think you will eat it.  You may be surprised how much money this will save you!


Take a hard look at your transportation.  Are there ways to spend less on your auto expenses?  Are you commuting to work in the most economical way possible?  Is public transportation available?  Could you arrange a carpool?  In addition to carpooling to your job, have you considered carpooling with friends to social events?  If you are making car payments, and having a difficult time making ends meet, check with your dealership or a company like CarMax to see if you could trade-in your car for a less expensive, but reliable vehicle that would be cheaper to drive.  Finding one with lower payments and better gas mileage would be the ideal combination!  Finally, compare prices between local auto insurance providers and see if you are able to save money on auto insurance.  You may qualify for some discounts that you are not aware of … such as using the same insurance provider for your home and auto insurance.


 Now that you have reduced what you are spending for television, phone service, rent, food and transportation, there are still a few more areas where you could reduce your expenses.  Clothing is an item where many Americans can definitely economize.  Start by looking at your current wardrobe.  Wash and repair all the clothing you currently own.  Reorganize your closet, trying to combine old clothing in new ways.  Pair an old jacket with another dress, and create an entirely new look!  If, after reorganizing, you still need to add a few additional items to your wardrobe to freshen things up, start by shopping in consignment stores, thrift shops, and discount retailers.  You may be surprised how much you can liven up your wardrobe for very little money!  Most importantly … do NOT put clothing purchases on a credit card.  If you are not able to pay for the item right at the moment of purchase, you should postpone buying the item.  You may be tired of your current wardrobe, but it is not worth it to go into debt just to relieve your boredom!


Next, tackle your remaining utility bills.  Take shorter showers.  Water your plants only when necessary.  Save money on electricity by turning off your lights when you are out of the room.  Turn off televisions, computer screens, printers and similar items when you are not using them.  You may even want to unplug these items, especially if you are going to be on vacation.  Keep your house a few degrees warmer than normal in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter.  Remember that for thousands of years humans did not have central heat and air conditioning.  Our bodies can adjust to some variation in temperature, if we simply layer our clothing!



Make up a budget, and stick to it.  Start by simply writing down everything you spend money on for a month.  At the end of the month, total everything up into some logical categories … food, rent, transportation, utilities, insurance, and entertainment.  Once you have a budget, compare your expenses to your income.  If your expenses are excessive, look at the largest items first to see where you can cut back.  Continue to find ways to save money on bills until your expenses are lower than your income.  For example, if your entertainment expense is high, make a list of all the things you can do for free and limit yourself to just doing those activities.  If you can manage to keep your expenses lower than your income, you will be able to start saving!


Finally, have a savings account.  Emergencies will come up.  Be prepared so that you do not have to use credit cards for those occasional expenses that you know are coming, such as car repairs, new tires, household purchases, doctor visits, etc.  If you save money for these items in advance, you will reduce the likelihood that you will be going into debt to pay for these expenses.  With a little tinkering, most people are able to successfully maintain a balanced budget.  I hope that you can, too!

Interested in other ways to protect your finances? Read these articles, too:

Financial Advice for College Students

Cheap or Free School Uniforms

How to Prove You Don't Owe a Debt

Easy and Cheap Las Vegas Weddings

Last Minute Gifts: Cheap but Thoughtful

 Cheap and Thoughtful Gifts for Men

Is Someone In Your Family Getting Married?

Wedding Can Be Expensive Unless You are Prepared

Romantic Budget Wedding Ideas: Where to Find Cheap Wedding Dresses, Reception Venues and More
Amazon Price: $5.49 $3.70 Buy Now
(price as of May 26, 2016)
If you are getting married, or you have a son or daughter who is getting married, this book can help you find ways to save thousands of dollars on the wedding ceremony, the dress, the location, the reception and more.

Save Money by Planning a Las Vegas Wedding

For Many People This is a Fun and Affordable Choice

Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding
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Many people have found that they can combine the wedding and honeymoon and have an exciting, romantic wedding in Las Vegas that they will be remember fondly for the rest of their lives!


Jul 29, 2010 10:09pm
Ingenuity is all over your ideas to save money. It is amazing how a little plus a little can add up to a lot.Thank you for you great tips.
Jul 30, 2010 4:51am
Great ideas for saving money, we all need to tighten the belt more and more especially as they keep increasing the costs of our electricity at the moment in West OZ. rated up
Jul 30, 2010 11:17am
Another way to save money on your electricity is to unplug any appliance when you are not using it ... including your TV, computer, DVD player, etc. Appliances apparently use a little electricity even when they are turned off, as long as they are still plugged in.
Jul 30, 2010 1:01pm
Excellent ideas on ways to save money. We saved a bunch by moving our home and car insurance to AAA. It works!
Jul 31, 2010 5:00pm
Great ideas and tips! Nicely pulled together and written!
Jul 31, 2010 7:55pm
TO add to the #2 tip, get the cheapest cell phone possible. The Net10 phone is in my opinion the best because it has all the uses of any other phone but it is so much cheaper. I ditched my contract with my old carrier when it was up and went with Net10 instead and I have saved hundreds of dollars over the past year alone. THanks for the great article!
Aug 1, 2010 12:16am
Thanks for the great suggestion of a cheap cell phone carrier, Masterofmydomain. I really appreciate it when people add to this article, so that anyone who is struggling financially has the opportunity to get as much help as possible!
Sep 14, 2010 8:24am
These are great ways to save money. When my husband was laid off a few years ago we had to reduce our spending dramatically to keep afloat. We discovered that many store brands, while much less expensive, are of the same quality and even made by the same mfg. as the Brand name goods. This does take some experimenting, but it's worth it. Also, one more tip is Never go grocery shopping when you're hungry!
Oct 2, 2010 4:49pm
Excellent suggestions, thanks for a great and useful article!
Nov 1, 2010 5:02am
Thank you for your great tips about how to avoid the debt trap.
Nov 5, 2010 9:59am
Great suggestions for ways to save money. This is a must do in this economy. Thanks for sharing.
Apr 25, 2012 9:58pm
Great suggestions- I mean tight budget is where I seem to always be stuck at. Have any of you switched to prepaid phones from the usual contract phones? My neighbor recently did it and she is thrilled with it and saving with her, her husband, and her son she said more than 125 dollars a month. She used the company Tracfone so she can only speak to that company but she has basically the exact same Samsung phone as me and I want to do the switch but I dont know.. I dont know anything about prepaid! their website seems like great deals but was wondering if any of you have had any info on them
Nov 26, 2014 6:33pm
You asked about prepaid phones. Yes, there are some people who are getting low rates on cell phones that are prepaid, rather than using a contract service. It's a great idea!
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