These 73 ways to save money on a tight budget will help you find creative ways to reduce expenses.
These money-saving tips are easy to work into your lifestyle and require little or no up-front investment.
Faced with shrinking jobs, tightened credit, and an uncertain future, these money-saving tips will make a great deal of difference to your pockets.
Some of these tips might not apply during the pandemic but still good to have on hand for when things return to normal.
Ways to Save Money on Food and Groceries
- Cut back on eating out. With most of us at home these days, this is easier than ever. I am surprised at some of the dishes I’ve been able to create at home since all this started.
- If you do want to grab some take out once in a while, opt for lunch take out instead of dinner. Prices are lower for lunch including bundle deals so you can grab lunch two days in a row.
- Start taking advantage of meal planning and prepping. Plan a week’s meals in advance to utilize coupons, sales, leftovers, and perishables. I meal prep a month in advance. It saves me a fortune. Read Budget & Healthy Meal Planning.
- Always go grocery shopping with a list based on the week’s menu and don’t divert from the list.
- Avoid processed, prepared, and convenient groceries. They are expensive and add up over time. Prepare from scratch and freeze in bundles to save time later.
- Load up on fruits and vegetables in season. Freeze them for later on when no longer in season.
- Avoid pre-cut fruits, vegetables, and salads.
- Clip coupons as much as possible and combine them with store sales.
- Buy store brands. They aren’t that much different from the popular brands yet are much cheaper.
- Do not go shopping if you’re hungry. Snack on some nuts or fruits before you go grocery shopping.
- When grocery shopping, avoid impulse items displayed at the checkout counter.
- This doesn’t matter so much now that we’re home a lot but when things get back to normal, pack your lunch for work.
- You should make your own coffee and tea at home but if you decide you must go to a coffee chain, avoid the fancy drinks that cost as much as $7 a cup, and stick with plain coffee/tea.
- If your grocery store has a loyalty card, sign up for it. You can get even more discounts and freebies with a loyalty card.
- Instead of firing up the oven for every meal or most meals, consider using the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot most of the time.
- Keep track of prices for different items at different stores. It’s a real eye-opener. For instance, I discovered I could get cleaning supplies a few dollars less at a store 10 mins walk away from my usual store. It adds up over time so don’t default to one store for all your groceries.
- Keep track of your grocery items when scanning. There are several times an item is one price on the shelf but is a higher price when you checkout. I guess they’re hoping you won’t notice.
Ways to Save Money on Gas and Car
- Combine as many errands as you can to minimize trips.
- Shop for cars two to three years old and scoring well in the consumer research literature. You don’t really need a new car.
- Reduce freeway speeds by 5 mph.
- Maintain recommended tire pressure and change oil regularly.
- Watch for oil change specials and coupons at your local gas stations.
- Carpool and use public transportation when possible.
- Compare car insurance rates before renewing. Don’t be afraid to shop around. When I was still driving, I carried out this exercise every year and saved hundreds.
- Drop collision and comprehensive coverage on older cars.
- Combine car and home insurance to receive multi-line discounts.
- Use regular gas unless there’s an absolute need for premium fuels.
- If making any road trips, take your meals with you. Don’t buy food on the road.
Ways to Save Money on Entertainment
- Wait for DVD releases of movies. Definitely much cheaper than going to the movies + popcorn + drinks. And these days, you can watch new releases on Prime Video or Netflix.
- Watch out for free or low-cost community entertainment.
- For must-see first-run movies, attend a matinee in the middle of the week.
- Volunteer to usher at live events to see it free.
- Museums, art galleries, and parks often offer free or discount days.
- Visit plays and musicals at a nearby university or college.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities
- Cancel premium cable and satellite channels that are seldom viewed. You don’t really need it to be honest.
- Cancel cell phone services that are seldom used.
- Request a rate reduction on cable, phone, and Internet services.
- Switch to a lower Internet speed package especially if you’re not connecting that many devices.
- Keep the furnace and air conditioner serviced for peak efficiency.
- Clean or replace furnace filters regularly.
- Set heating thermostat one or two degrees lower and wear layers for warmth.
- Close doors of unused rooms to save on energy.
- Wash clothes on the cold water cycle unless the label instructs otherwise.
- Combine laundry loads to use less water and electricity.
- Don’t run the dishwasher unless you have a full load.
- Install low-flow shower and faucet heads to use less water.
- Disconnect appliances that are always on or in a standby state if they won’t be used for lengthy periods.
- Use compact fluorescent bulbs and turn off lights when out of the room.
- Use open-source software or free web-based software.
- Wrap a hot water heater purchased before 2004 in a thermal cover.
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets. Ignoring them can get pretty expensive.
- If you already have a cell phone, do you really need a landline? Consider eliminating this.
Ways to Save Money on Beauty and Grooming
- Cut your own hair. You can learn how to do this by watching a few YouTube tutorials.
- Don’t want to deal with the expense of hair salons. You can shave your hair and wear a cropped cut for a while.
- Sign up for cashback on your purchases. With places like Ebates, you can earn cashback by spending money on items you would buy online anyway. When you sign up, you also get $25. Learn more HERE.
Ways to Save Money on Miscellaneous Items
- Keep track of spending for two weeks to heighten awareness of spending habits. Definitely create a budget.
- Negotiate prices for major appliances such as TV, washer/dryer, refrigerator, and stove. You don’t need to go for name brands.
- Refuse most extended warranties unless absolutely necessary.
- Give homemade gifts. Visit 365 Gift Guide for DIY gift ideas.
- Shop previously owned clothing stores. Read 6 Money-Saving Tips for Thrift Store Shopping.
- Obtain reading material, DVDs, and music from your local library. They are free and you have access for up to 30 days.
- If the latest hot novel beckons immediately, put in a request at the library and they’ll order it for their inventory.
- Sign up for services similar to Freecycle to obtain used goods in good condition.
- Watch Craigslist for good buys on used articles. Arrange to pick up only in public.
- Check eBay for items you need but buy from rated sellers and avoid offers to go “off-line.”
- Repair rather than replace when repair costs justify it. Do the math before you roll the dice.
- Pay credit card bills in full within the grace period to avoid interest charges.
- Use ATMs that don’t incur extra charges.
- Pay your bills online to eliminate stamps and envelope costs.
- Use a credit card that provides cashback, but pay it off each month. This is what I do and I get loads of benefits from it.
- Do you have extra room in your apartment or house? Consider renting it out for some time to shore up your emergency fund.
- Cancel a gym membership and walk, jog, or ride a bike or workout at home. I’ve been working out at home since 2013 with great success. I share my fitness journey on Fitness At Every Age.
- Challenge yourself to a no-spend challenge. Start with a few days then move up to a week then longer. I’m going to start a no-spend challenge in the next few weeks. Sign up below to be notified so you can join in as well.
I’ve left out money-saving tips on vacations for obvious reasons. I will do a separate post on that once things go back to normal.
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