If you are on a tight budget and need to save money fast, check out our list of the most popular money-saving tips.
On a Tight Budget, Every Dollar Counts
For many years, my paychecks quickly evaporated because of rent, car expenses or utility bills. I know that it’s particularly important to find the best ways to save money when you are on a tight budget.
Check out this list of 40 money saving tips. Help us improve this page by creating a quick account to upvote the best ideas (or perhaps even submit new ideas!).
40 Best Ways to Save:
- 31Don’t be the first to buy new technology ($175 savings/year)Read moreRead lessDon’t be the first to buy new technology, movies, and games. By waiting a few months, you can save by buying an older generation phone in new condition for a lot less. A certified refurbished iPhone from 2 generations back can save you $300-$450 and still comes with a warranty.
- 28Use the library for FREE books, movies and even e-books and audio books.Read moreRead lesscheck out books, e-books and movies for free. Did you know you could get free library e-books for free on your Kindle or ebooks apps?
- 24Find free entertainment ideasRead moreRead lessEnjoy simple, free activities: go for walks, bike rides or roller blade outings, play at the park, have a campfire, play board games or video games you already own, go the beach or to your local state parks. Google can give you new ideas too: try a Google search for “Free Events Near Me” and see what pops up. You can also check community events calendars for free events instead of paying for entertainment. Even small cities usually have a lot of free events going on. Our favorite tip: come up with a list of 10 free ideas, and put it on your fridge. The next time you are looking for something fun to do, you will be able to save money because of all these good ideas right in front of you. You can also read our Big List of Free Entertainment Ideas.
- 19Plan a fun staycationRead moreRead lessFlying the distance is so 2008. Staycationing is the hottest trend around. Tired of spending hours in a metal tube, breathing stale air and desperately searching the Internet for Wi-Fi? With a "Staycation" you'll skip the lines, save big, and experience hot spots in your own region. Local theme parks and zoos, or your state or regional parks are perfect destinations for an affordable staycation. You can even stay home and pamper yourself, do yoga or watch your favorite movies. Anything goes as long as you disrupt your routine, have fun and relax.
- 18Use vouchers or coupons ($2,000/year for a family)Read moreRead lessAccording to the Promotion Marketing Association’s (PMA), an average family saves around $5.20 to $9.60 per week (about $2,000/year) using coupons. Additionally, shoppers using coupons claimed in the research that they save about 7% on a grocery shopping trip with coupons. You can make fantastic savings by frequently checking when vouchers and coupons are available for your favorite products. Whether printing vouchers or coupons to take shopping with you or staying at home to shop online and enter the voucher code before clicking through the payment stage, there are many ways to save cash.
- 17Replace air filters in heating and cooling units ($100-$250 savings/year if you have dirty filters)Read moreRead lessReplace air filters in heating and cooling units regularly to increase efficiency. The Department of Energy reports that replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15% (Source : Department of energy).
- 17Pay Down Your Smallest Loan to Avoid Interest CostsRead moreRead lessIf you still have car, student or credit card debt, focus on paying that down to avoid high 5-15% interest payments. Dave Ramsey recommends making minimum payments on all your loans, and focusing on paying down the small down entirely to get rid of it ("Attack that one with a vengeance. Once it's gone, take that payment and put it toward the second-smallest debt").
- 17Give yourself a cooling off period before a big purchaseRead moreRead lessWhen you feel the urge to buy something non-essential, wait for a few days. When you come back and rethink this expense, you may be glad you passed. If you still want that thing, you can save up for it.
- 16Actually use your programmable thermostat ($80 to $200 savings)Read moreRead lessThe US Department of Energy reports that you can save as much as 10% by turning your thermostat down 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day (I do this at night).
- 15Use price comparison websitesRead moreRead lessPrice comparison websites such as Google Shopping or PriceGrabber can help you find the most competitive deals for the products you're looking to buy. If you're buying car accessories, home appliances, hardware, software, or toys, it's worth browsing these websites as they can show you adverts for dozens of providers all on one page. This means that you have more choice and can compare prices immediately to ensure you get the best prices available.
- 15Pack your lunch with fun food ($850/year)Read moreRead lessMany people spend $7-$10 every day just to have a meal at work. While this is not an extravagant amount of money, over the course of a year you will be spending around $1250 on catering. Buy yourself a few good containers and plan your lunches ahead of time when grocery shopping; bring your food with you instead of eating out. You'll be surprised at how much money ends up in your pocket (you can save up to 850$/year).
- 11Make your own face masksRead moreRead lessForget spending time and money at your local spa. Discover the best recipe online, to customize your facial mask according to your skin type. All you need is some basic ingredients and a little time to treat your skin right. By giving yourself a full at-home facial, you can save hundreds per year.
- 9Don’t go shopping for funRead moreRead lessThis can save you hundreds per year! Don’t go shopping for fun or as a hobby. Shop when you need something and shop with a list. Don’t browse online shops and clicks on those promotion emails, unless you NEED something .
- 6Focus on saving money on your high-spend categoriesRead moreRead lessBreak up high-spend categories into smaller categories. Take a look at your budget and see where you consistently overspend. For most Americans, this category is eating out. If you find yourself eating out and consistently overspending your budget, break up the category into more manageable pieces. For us, we break up our food budget into weekly increments (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4). That way, we know that if we overspend in a week, we have to slow down the following week to pay back what we overspent). Set a budget category for eating out (for example, $40 per week), so that you know you need to start eating in more regularly when you overspend.
- 6Go down to one car for your household ($8,469 savings/year)Read moreRead lessIt’s not always convenient, but you’ll save money on repairs, insurance, and other car costs ($8,469/year according to NerdWallet).
- 5Create your first budget ($100 to $5,000 savings/year)Read moreRead lessWhen you see how much you’re spending on groceries or eating out, you will be very motivated to cut expenses. See how this couple saved over $5,000 extra per year with a new budget.
- 5Replace paper towels with microfiber cloths or cotton bar towels ($80 to $160 savings/year)Read moreRead lessThe average family uses 2 rolls per week: your family could be spending $90 (2 people) to $182 (family) a year. Shop microfiber cloths (Amazon link) or cotton bar towels.
- 4Automatic withdrawals to your savings accountRead moreRead lessSet an automatic withdrawal into a separate savings account to build your emergency fund or savings account. When you do this, you don’t have to think about setting money aside for savings. It will become a natural habit for you to build up your savings account, meet savings goals, or save towards a larger purchase.
- 4Know your triggersRead moreRead lessIf you’re anything like me, then there are certain places (cough cough Target) that you can’t go into without picking up some things that weren’t on your list. This is especially unavoidable if I have had a hard week or need a pick-me-up. They don’t call it retail therapy for nothing, right? When you can identify your triggers, you can budget for them accordingly. If you know that you like to buy new lotions when you go to Target, set aside $20 in your budget to spend when you go to Target. If you know that when you have a rough day at work, you like to pick up a chocolate croissant at the local coffee shop, set aside $10 in your budget.
- 4Pay bills in larger incrementsRead moreRead lessOur insurance gives us a considerable discount for paying our premiums twice a year as opposed to monthly. We save something around $300 per year when we do this, so it’s incredibly important to us to take advantage of that benefit. Look at your bills and see if there are ways to reduce your bills’ overall cost by paying larger increments. For example, add an extra $25 per month to your automatic monthly withdrawals (see budgeting tip #1) for the purpose of paying your insurance bills twice a year as opposed to monthly.
- 4Make your morning coffee at home ($600 savings)Read moreRead lessBring it to work in a travel mug. It costs $68 per month to have a latte four times a week so you can save $600 per year if you are a Starbucks addict.
- 4Meal planning to go out less ($345 savings/year)Read moreRead lessMost US households would save $345 simply by reducing their restaurant and take-out bills by 10% annually.
- 4Do a monthly homemade pizza night at home instead of getting take-out ($120-$240 savings/year)Read moreRead lessTry my favorite dough and sauce recipes, and save money with an inexpensive, but fun, diner at home.
- 4Shop thrift storesRead moreRead lessShop thrift stores, used marketplaces and consignment stores. My favorite consignment store is Swap.com. Other new used marketplaces like eBay, OfferUp or the Facebook marketplace now offer plenty of options to save money.
- 3A man at home? Get a hair clipper! ($120 savings/year)Read moreRead lessGet a set of hair clippers and do men’s haircuts at home. Men might have already made that move by necessity with the pandemic in 2020!
- 3Buy refurbished or used electronics and appliances.Read moreRead lessBuy refurbished or used when it comes to electronics, tools, lawn equipment, decor, and kids toys (really, anything that can be easily cleaned). eBay, OfferUp and Amazon Renewed have great deals on refurbished and used.
- 3Go out to lunch instead of dinner.Read moreRead lessMany restaurants have a less expensive lunch menu, which will often save you 20-40%. Not to mention you will probably save on alcoholic drinks 😉
- 2Adjust your thermostat ($240 savings/year)Read moreRead lessTurning your thermostat down 3 degrees for the winter and up 3 degrees for the summer can save about $240 annually for most households (save about 3% for every degree).
- 2Cancel cable and use Netflix or Hulu ($1,000 savings/year)Read moreRead lessCancel cable and use Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu. This can save most households over $1,000 annually.
- 2Create your gym at home to avoid gym memberships ($240 to $480 savings/year).Read moreRead lessGym memberships can cost $20 to $100 per month. Shop Amazon for at-home gym equipment for less than $99 and recoup your investment in a few months.
- 2Carefully choose your housing.Read moreRead lessHousing is probably your biggest monthly expense, so make sure you don’t overspend. Look at the most inexpensive options first and then go from there. You should not spend more than 25 to 30% of your gross income on your rent or mortgage. This can be hard to achieve in some areas, but will help you live without financial stress for years to come!
- 1Shop your wireless plan ($60 to $240 savings/year)Read moreRead lessTake a good look at your cell phone plan. Can you switch to a cheaper provider or ditch the unlimited everything plan?
- 1Take 2- minute showers ($260 savings/year)Read moreRead lessIt costs $34.80 per month to shower every day for 6 min. Time yourself for a few days to see how long you’re taking, and limit yourself to 2 minutes.