Is all of your money gone after your bills are paid? Does it feel like you’re never going to be able to start saving money? If you’re struggling with how to save money on a tight budget, here are a few easy tips for you.
Track Your Expenses
I was horrified when I realized how much money I was spending on Amazon on “needed” items. When your transactions are less than $20, it’s easy to make a whole bunch of them!
The simple act of tracking expenses has helped me see exactly where our money was going, and was one of the keys to gaining control of our financial situation.
Since we are trying to save $100,000 for a down payment on a house within the next few years, every expense counts. Knowledge is power!
Evaluate Needs vs. Wants
I like stuff. I’ll own that. I really like stuff. I’m on a mission to declutter my house over 2020, and get rid of at least half of my possessions.
The process of separating needs and wants makes it easier to save money, because asking the question “do I really NEED this” makes me stop. This simple question has saved me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by just making me think before I spend money.
Evaluate the Grocery Budget
My grocery budget is one of the easiest areas of the budget for me to find “extra” money.
Now, I will say that we like good food. We don’t have any medical restrictions or allergies on what we can eat, but I would say that roughly 80% of our food is fresh. As much as possible, I prefer to avoid boxes and cans. That means that our grocery budget may be a little higher than it HAS to be.
If you’re finding that your budget is busted, and you have to get back on track, here are a few ideas on how you can use your grocery budget to get back on track.
Shop the Pantry/Freezer
Go through your freezer and pantry, and try to meal plan with ingredients that you already have. If you’re like the average person, your pantry probably has assorted ingredients in it. You may already have canned soups, frozen meats and vegetables, and everything that you need to plan a week’s worth of meals.
Be creative, and think outside the box!
Eat Literal Beans and Rice
Bags of dried beans are less than a dollar in my area (Southern California). They are also full of nutrition.
So be brave, grab a few bags of beans, and check out how you can save some money. My personal favorite is lentils, and this lentil recipe. I skip the Braggs Liquid Aminos, and cook the beans in chicken broth instead. It’s so yummy, and the entire pot costs roughly $6 (minus costs of seasoning), and makes my lunches for a whole week. Beware: it makes you toot!
Check out Pinterest for inspiration on recipes that you can make using beans.
Don’t Eat Out
I know. I know. Eating out is one of our splurges. However, if we’re looking at a super tight month, you bet we are not going to be eating out (or we’ll be using a gift card – THANKS mom and dad for that birthday gift!).
I also struggle with this one because there are some nights were (overdramatically) I would rather go hungry than cook. I’m tired.
But even going to get fast food for the two of us will come up to $15-20. Sounds small in the moment, adds up in the long run. Even just a few times a month can add up to be nearly a hundred dollars a month.
Direct Deposit to Savings
Where does your paycheck go? Most of us have 100% of that take home pay go to one bank account. However, you may have the option to have a percentage of your paycheck go to a different account.
Even if you only have 1-2% of your paycheck going to a separate savings account, that amount will add up. Every little bit counts, and will grow over time. It may feel like an incredibly small amount, but that’s how everyone starts. When you realize that you can save even that small amount, you are inspired to save even more. Try to increase that amount at least yearly, if not twice a year.
The best part of this is that if we don’t see the money in our immediate take-home pay, we are far less likely to spend it immediately.
If you do not have the option to change your deposits, our bank, Chase, allows us to have a “rule” that automatically sends a portion of all deposits into our savings account. We automatically put 10% of the take home pay into savings.
Are you on a tight budget? What are some of the ways that you are saving money? I’d love to hear more about how you save money in the comments!