20 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Trying to save money while on a tight budget can be a hard thing to do and trust me I’ve been there done that. I believe if you try hard enough you can save even a little bit no matter what budget you have at the moment.

We have been able to save money when we were making 20,000 a year and even now we save money.

You can always cut back on different things or change your situation so you can save money for those rainy days.

You will have moments in your life, and right now might be one of them, where you will need some extra money. Heck we all could use extra money.

I have come up with 20 different ways to save money on a tight budget to either help you pay off debt or have an emergency fund.

I have tried all of these different ways to cut back on my budget so I know that they work.

20 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Get a Budget Planner

have a budget planner to save money on a tight budget

First and foremost you need to get a budget planner so you can have everything down on your phone or paper.

If you have the goal of being able to spend less money and save more it’s really difficult to do when you aren’t organized with your money.

When I was strict with my budget planner and was tight with my money we paid off $5,000 of debt in just three months. And that was making only $35,000 a year so trust me when I say having a budget planner can really help you with your goals.

So if we can pay off $5,000 of debt with a very low income I know that you can do it too with a little bit of help from a budget planner!

Budget planners also:

  • Help you not to spend money you don’t have
  • Show you what kind of spending habits you have whether good or bad
  • You may see subscriptions to things you forgot about and no longer need
  • Help you to prepare for emergencies
  • Keeps your eye on a certain goal
  • Provides you more control over your money
  • Helps you to stay organized with your money

Luckily I have made y’all a budget planner that you can print out and use as often as you need!


Use Cash Envelopes

We have done this on and off throughout our marriage.

If you have no idea what the cash envelope system is you wouldn’t be the only one.

“The envelope system is a way to track exactly how much money you have in each budget category for the month by keeping your cash tucked away in envelopes. At the end of the month, you can see how much cash is left by taking a quick peek in your envelope. How easy is that?

If you’re constantly going overboard in a certain category (hello, food!), then take cash out for the amount you’ve budgeted for and stick it in an envelope. When you shop for that category, only use what’s in the envelope. Once the money is gone, it’s gone—so this will force you to stop overspending!” (source)

My favorite categories to use the cash envelope system are:

  • Groceries
  • Going out to eat
  • Car maintenance
  • Fun money
  • Date money
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts

These categories are best with the cash envelope system because this is where people tend to overspend their money.

When you see that you have no more to spend, it helps you to budget better in those areas.

You also have to make sure that when you do spend all of the money in the envelope that you don’t pull out your card and spend more money. The whole point of the cash envelope system is helping you to budget how much you spend and make the money last.

You see the money disappearing so it is supposed to be a little bit more of a pain point other than just swiping your card.

Make Small Changes to your Expenses

There are lots of different areas where you can make small changes to your budget to save money.

You could lower different areas of your spending such as: cable, internet, phone, tv subscriptions, going out to eat, groceries, ect.

When you have your budget planner and write everything that you spend out you will be able to see different areas where you can make small changes and spend less. It’s crazy how much a few dollars here and there could really make a difference.

You could be using this extra money for paying off debt or grow your savings account. Making these small changes will help you not live paycheck to paycheck and hoping that your money comes in before your bills get taken out.

Look at Big Expenses

save money on larger expenses such as a house

Some of the big expenses that you could take a look at is: rent, car insurance, and your car payment.

Your place of living could make a huge difference in your spending costs. Could you downsize a little bit, or move to a place that is a little ways from the city?

When we lived in Idaho we lived 15 minutes from the city and yes at times it was a pain to drive so far to get to work, which now thinking about this people would probably kill for that kind of commute time.

Anyways we saved and extra 250-400 dollars on our rent because we lived just 15 minutes away from the city!

Yes we spent a little bit more on gas, but really it was an extra 20-30 dollars a month and that is a big difference from what we are saving.

You could also think of downsizing what you live in, but if that is a for sure no go you could always look for places to live during the time that people weren’t looking for places to rent.

We found the best deals for places to live in the winter time.

“Landlords are more likely to negotiate discounts in the winter due to lower demand. The summer housing market generally has a wider selection, but prices tend to be higher. It may not be worth the hassle (and cost) to prematurely end a lease to get on a winter renting cycle.” (source)

I know switching places to live may suck, but it can really help your budget for when you get to the stage of buying a house or renting a nicer place.

Reduce Cell Phone/ Internet Plan

reduce your cell phone and internet bill

People spend so much money on their cell phone plan and internet bill, on average about a couple hundred a month!

I know that there are great deals that you can find and if you like the provider that you are with and they are running a promotion for new customers you can often times get the same deal.

Our internet provider was running a promotion and we called them up to see if we could get the same deal or else we were going to switch providers and they gave us the same deal, which was awesome!

Now providers may say no of course, but it never hurts to ask.

Sometimes you may look at your bill and see that you don’t need a certain plan that you have. Maybe you stop using the unlimited plan for your cell phone provider if you are home a lot more.

You can also do some research and see what providers have the best deals currently or for a longer period of time.

Sometimes with providers they have a super bomb deal for about a year and then the price gets racked up a ton after that period of time.

So make sure when you are shopping around for providers that you also ask how much you will be charged after the promotional period.

Cancel Subscriptions

My husband is notorious for doing a ton of free trials to try things out and forgetting to cancel the subscriptions.

He loves to try something or he does the trial because he needs it for one thing one time and then forgets that he even did a subscription. We usually don’t realize it till we are getting charged and then there is no way to get that money back.

If you are this way and want to use the subscription till the end of the free trial make sure to put a notification in your phone to cancel it right away that way you don’t forget.

You should also be checking your monthly bills and cancel subscriptions that you are no longer using.

This is where a budget planner really comes into play because you will be able to write everything out and see what you are no longer using.

It will blow you away how much money you spend on useless things or things you forgot that you were subscribed to.

Grocery Bills

lower your grocery bill to save money on a tight budget

This is a huge place where people can adjust the amount that they are spending.

Most of the time people just buy stuff at the store without any plan or at least a small idea of what they want or need.

Some tips to save money with groceries are:

  • Have a calculator
  • Have a list
  • Cook more meals
  • Cook budget friendly meals
  • Don’t buy everything name brand

Have a Calculator

Having a calculator really helps you to stay on budget.

When I would do this I would go to the store with my list on a paper and use my phone as a calculator.

Beforehand make sure that you budget the amount that you are going to spend every week, but also make sure to keep it realistic.

Look at how much you spend every week on average with groceries and think of how much you feel like you can realistically save with your groceries.

Then use your calculator to stay on budget. If you are going over make sure that you put some of stuff away that you don’t really need.

This is also where the cash envelope system really will help because you can only spend the amount that you have in your envelope.

If you really want to save money you need to be strict in this department because majority of people overspend with their groceries and you can save quite a bit when you are being strict.

When we first started to budget our groceries we saved about 250 dollars a month, which is an insane amount that could either go into savings or go towards paying off debt.

Eating Out

eat out less to save money on a tight budget

We love to go out to eat, especially when we are running around and didn’t prepare well for the day.

“As a nation, we eat out between four and five times a week, on average. This number equates to 18.2 meals in an average month eaten outside the home.” (source)

When I first saw this statistic I thought that was an insane amount of times to go out to eat. So lets calculate how much this costs you on a low end.

If you go out to eat 4 times a week with just two people and let’s say you spend 25 dollars a meal (which is super low) you would be spending $100 a week, which is $400 a month!

Imagine not going out to eat and using that $400 for debt or savings!

Take a look at your bank account and calculate how much you go out to eat, then think of how much you will save with a little bit of planning and cooking your own meals.

Saving money with going out to eat less could really save you a good amount for future emergencies.

If you have to go out to eat try doing it once a week or twice a month.

Bargain Buy

There are often times when a need doesn’t fall under bills or groceries so bargain buying is a great way to save money as well.

The internet is your best friend with this one. There are so many different options out there to bargain buy. You could buy second hand or look for really good deals or sales at stores.

It could get really tricky as you are searching because sometimes you will see something that you want and got to have. But if you find other things make sure that you are being honest about whether or not it’s a want or a need.

If it’s a want see if it fits in the budget you have created to spend money on yourself.

If you don’t have a small amount that you can spend on yourself every month then you will have splurging sessions and overspend when you want things.

I have done this many many times. I will do super good on my budget and not spend anything on myself for a few months and I feel awesome, but then I go on this spending spree and buy a bunch of crap that I don’t need, but want.

I feel like I deserve to have these things because I did so well with saving these past few months. But then I end up spending the amount that I saved anyways.

So to avoid those splurging moments I think it’s important to have a certain amount that you can spend on yourself. Maybe that looks like 5 dollars or even 50 dollars.

Try to pick an amount that won’t set you back on your savings goals or paying off debt. But also make sure that it’s a decent amount that would make you not go into splurging moments because you “did good” for the past few months.

Free or Low Cost Activities

Now it would blow your mind how many free or low cost activities are out there.

When you have kids it feels like they always want to go do something fun or you feel so cooped up that you need to get out of the house.

It can be so easy going to your nearest recreation center or activity and spend a good chunk of change on doing this activity.

If you love to do activities you should look around on facebook or do a google search on activities that are free to do in your area.

There may be quite a few activities to even do in the future to get excited about.

Discover Wants and Needs

Trying to differentiate whether what you are buying is a want or a need can be very difficult for a lot of people.

It can be easy to convince yourself that a want is actually a need, you can even do this with food!

In the world that we are in today it can be so easy to drop 10 dollars here and there and not even blink an eye. We have two day shipping at the tips of our fingertips.

We don’t even have to leave the couch to shop and trust me the 10 dollars here and there that you spent really adds up over time.

A want is something that will make your life more comfortable, but you can live without it. A need is something that you need for living.

Such as food, a place to live, transportation, ect.

Now with food, living, and transportation you can also seperate those into needs and wants.

Meaning you need food to live, but do you need to go out to eat every week or for lunches?

With your place to live does it need to be as big or as close to your favorite places? Can you adjust your living situation to spend less?

With transportation do you really need that new car or constantly lease a car? Can you get buy on a used car or wait for top notch deals?

You can always find different ways to trim back on your needs and lower the amount that you are spending on your wants.

My favorite way to spend less in the want department is to wait before I buy.

I am an impulse buyer and I can admit that. I will wait 2-4 days before I buy something and then if I still want it I will get it.

Doing this trick has saved us a lot of money and a lot of time with returns.

Set Up Auto Pay

Setting up auto pay will help you save money with late fees and forgetting to pay that bill.

Currently my husband and I manage an apartment complex and it blows my mind how many people forget to pay their rent because they don’t have auto pay set up.

Luckily we send out a text reminder before the rent is considered late, but most places don’t do this and just charge you a late fee.

Which having late fees can add up quickly, especially if it’s for a utility because they will turn it off, charge you a late fee, and charge you another fee for getting the service started back up.

If you don’t want to do autopay or it’s not an option with your bill I would suggest putting in a reminder in your phone the day before the bill is due. You could also put sticky notes on your fridge or places that you will see the reminder often.

Monthly Bank Fees

try to lower your monthly bank fees

Many banks charge fees for different things that you may not even notice.

You can get charged for:

  • Checking Account Maintenance ($6-20 a month)
  • Overdraft
  • Non-sufficient funds
  • ATM
  • Wire Transfer
  • Early account closure
  • Excessive withdrawal
  • Early withdrawal (source)

As you can see there are a lot of different fees you could be getting charged. That’s why you should be searching around for different banks and see what kind of fees they have.

I personally love banking with a credit union because they are very upfront and I have never had a problem with them. I have also banked with large banks and I feel like there is a fee for every little thing and it makes things more difficult to handle with budgeting.

That is just my personal experience and I strongly suggest doing your research and asking the tough questions before you bank with someone.

Make a Savings Goals

I strongly urge you to have a savings goal in particular I suggest you do 52 week money saving challenge.

Savings goals are really helpful when you have an unexpected cost.

In this life we don’t know when unexpected things will happen and having money in your savings will help when things do come up.

My husband and I have had to use our savings several times throughout our years of marriage and I was so grateful that we had at least $1000 in savings.

I strongly suggest that when you do use your savings for an emergency make sure to get your savings back to what it was so then you have it for another “just in case” moment.

Save Extra Paychecks

save your extra paycheck when you are on a tight budget

This is a tip that we just started doing and it has been so fantastic and helpful with reaching our savings goals.

If you get paid biweekly there will be at least two months of the year that you will get three paychecks in that month instead two.

Instead of spending that paycheck you can put it into savings. It’s a great way to put money into savings if you don’t want to do a weekly savings challenge.

Or you can do your weekly savings challenge on top of saving your 3rd paycheck.

Work on Paying off High Interest Debt Fast

Remember that car you wanted now or the credit card debt you may be in? Student loans from a private company or a loan you got to help you pay off your other debt?

Have you ever heard of the interest free for 6 months or 3 years sales pitch that seems to be everywhere. Usually the loan will take longer to pay off if you sign up for monthly payments. Then when the “interest free” time period is up the interest rate will be crazy high.

When we were looking at credit cards to help grow our credit the banker was telling us that the interest rate is 17%. Then started listing all of the “wonderful benefits” of the credit card and that as long as we have it paid off then we don’t need to worry about the interest rate. It’s like they brushed over that crazy high interest rate like it was no big deal.

The awful thing about this is sometimes things happen and you go into debt with your credit card and can’t pay it off in time. Then you are paying fees with this incredibly high interest rate.

I feel like they are hoping you go into debt so they can charge you the interest rate fee and make more money off of you.

If you have gotten into debt with loans that have high interest rates make sure to get that debt paid off first so you can save all of that money that you are paying in fees.

Find the best way for you to be able to pay it off fast and go make it happen.

Review Your Budget Often

Your budget will change and you need to constantly be reevaluating it. Whether you make a little more from your paycheck or a little less you will need to adjust in other departments.

Or if you plan on paying off debt faster or saving more you will need to adjust that amount everywhere you can.

There will be random places that you will spend more or less than expected so you will need to watch your budget and pay attention to your spending.

Start a Side Hustle

start a side hustle to save money on a tight budget

Now what happens when you have budgeted, pinched pennies and cant seem to make anything work?

Starting a side hustle is the perfect way to make extra money to help you meet your budgeting goals.

When I wanted to become a stay at home mom I knew that I needed to find a way to make extra money to help my husband with our finances.

So personally for me what worked was starting a blog. I actually run two now, this one and One Fit Mamma. It has been such a stress reliever because I am able to bring in an income, stay home with my baby, and have the freedom to choose my own hours.

Now you will see a lot of different websites talk about how starting a blog is a great way to make extra money, but what they don’t mention is it can take 1-2 years maybe even longer to bring in a full time income.

Also you have to be able to find a profitable niche, hosting, build your website, do keyword research, promote your blog, and write posts that people actually want to read.

People underestimate how much actually goes into blogging if you want to make money from it. Now I have a basic step by step guide on how you can start a profitable blog, but if that isn’t for you I have gathered tons of other ways that you can make money from home.

One thing that my husband and I did was donate plasma, it was an easy quick way to make money when we needed it. When we donated together we made about $800 a month which helped with many different things!

Saima from A Supertired Mom has 21 best jobs for stay at home moms. A few of my favorites from her post are:

  • Child Care Provider
  • Newspaper Carrier
  • Writing/editing for others
  • Graphic design
  • Flower arranger
  • Exchange student host
  • Painter
  • Baking for others
  • Life coach/assistant

If you have a green thumb, learn how to grow plants and sell them from home. Tamara at The Reid Homestead will teach you just how to do that!

I have been hearing a lot lately about mystery shopping and Sarah from Feast For A Fraction teaches you how to do this, reputable companies, and how to avoid scams when you start to become a mystery shopper!

Stephanie from Money Tamer shows you how to be successful on Rover, which is a dog walking/pet sitter service. “Being a pet sitter and dog walker allowed me to make up the shortfall in our family budget after I left my job to stay at home. I had to find a way to make $500/month with my young baby. The flexibility of this side hustle allowed me to work around my child’s schedule and take time off as I needed it.”

Danielle can teach you different ways to make money from a side hustle that isn’t blogging such as: VIPKid, virtual assisting, and scoping.

Monique from Do It Yourself Printables has a whole blog about how to make printables to sell. She has a great post talking about the legality, copyright issues, and how to make good quality printables to sell!

If you are a Disney lover you can learn 7 different ways to make money such as becoming as Disney blogger, vlogger, freelance writer, travel agent, personal shopper and more!

Cara has 11 different creative ways to earn money as a side hustle! You can deliver for shipt, amazon flex, recruit healthcare professionals, give tours of your local area, ect.

If you have thought about becoming a proofreader Trinity teaches you the ins and outs of doing just that!

As you can see there are many different side hustles that you can do to help make a little bit of extra money. These are all great ways to make a decent amount when you want to stay home or add it on top of your regular job.

Declutter and Sell Things

Another great way to make a little bit of extra money if you don’t need a side hustle, but a few extra dollars here and there is to declutter and sell things.

I bet you that you can look around and find things that are just collecting dust or that is in storage because you don’t need them anymore.

Why not purge your home and make some extra money as well. Decluttering can be very stress relieving and when you are able to sell the items you will have extra money that you can either treat yourself, save, or pay off debt.


There are tons of different ways that you can save money even if you are on a tight budget. I have personally tried each of these myself so I know that they can work for you too.

If you have any other ways to save money on a tight budget please comment them below to help other people out!