9 Ways To Save Money On A Tight Budget

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When you’re bills are almost as much as your paycheck it’s time to cut costs. Here are ways to save money on a tight budget without giving up your happiness.

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Are you trying to lengthen your time as a stay at home mom or save up for that dream vacation?

So many people want to know the secret to saving money. Truth is, there is no secret.

Saving money requires discipline and motivation.

By planning ahead and making financial changes, this can easily be accomplished! 

Childcare can get pricey. Sometimes it’s much cheaper for a parent to stay home.

Even as a nurse, over half of my monthly income would have gone to childcare. The other portion would have gone to the gas it takes me to drive to work and back home.

I would have been earning about $7 an hour and missing out on my daughter’s important milestones.

It’s understandable that you want to spend most of your time with your family instead of working outside of the home.

With the abundance of work at home jobs available now, there’s no reason why you can’t start making the transition to being your own boss.

Simple steps such as meal planning and getting rid of unnecessary expenses are a great place to start.

Creating the budget

At the beginning of our marriage, we had our own separate savings accounts and checking accounts. We also had a joint account we used only for bills and groceries.

There was money coming and going from everywhere! We had no idea how much we were actually spending. (Easily keep up with your monthly expenses using this monthly finance tracker!)

We decided to combine all of our accounts. That’s when we realized we were spending a lot more than we thought.

We put all of our expenses on a simple spreadsheet using the numbers app. Having a visual made it much easier to see where our money was going.

After comparing what we needed and what was unessential, we were able to make some major budget cuts.

To stay on top of our budget we also use the free Mint app which is connected to our bank accounts and credit card.

It tracks all of our transactions making it easier to keep up with our spending.

I’ll have a summary of our annual savings at the end of this post.

1. Car

Having a car is expensive. They require gas, car insurance and iPads for the kids so they’re not asking “are we there yet” every 5 seconds.

You might have a car payment as well. Because of bad car decisions I made in my younger years, my car payment was $450 a month.

I also had a satellite radio subscription that was $20 a month and my car insurance was $120 a month.

As you can tell, this is adding up quickly!

Cars also require maintenance which can be expensive as well.

Every time I would leave my house I ended up spending money on something. And 90% of the time it was an unnecessary expense.

By selling my car and getting rid of all the expenses, we’re saving about $600 a month.

That’s a savings of $7,200 each year without including any unexpected maintenance.

If you’re not ready to sell your car, consider renting it out with Turo. You could also drive for Uber or Lyft to bring in extra money.

2. Subscriptions

Having a gym membership makes you feel better about your life. Even though you haven’t used it in 6 months, the thought of having it makes you feel healthier.

I get it. I was the same way.

Spending $20 each month for a membership I used twice a year was a waste of money.

YouTube is an amazing free vault for whatever type of exercise you want to do that day.

Whether it’s yoga, pilates or cardio you can find a video or fitness plan you can stick to.

My favorite YouTube channels are GlowBodyPT and BodyFit by Amy. They are both mom-friendly channels.

Canceling my gym membership saves us $240 a year. There was also an annual charge of $120.

So in total, we save $360 each year by getting rid of an unused gym membership.

3. Student loans

The dreaded student loans!

It took me 9 years to finally graduate with my associate’s degree in nursing. Long story short, I didn’t take school seriously and took way too many unnecessary classes.

I managed to rack up $43,000 in student loans!

The income-based repayment option is very accommodating.

I was paying $234 a month when I was employed. That amount was affordable based on my annual salary.  

Now that I’m a stay at home mom and my husband’s income is tax-free due to his military service, we technically have no income.

I was able to call my loan holder and get my student loans lowered to $0 per month for an entire year!

They do add the interest each month, but I’m not obligated to pay anything right now.

We are saving $2,808 this year. This is the first debt we will tackle to pay off.

Side note: At the time of writing this post my blog was brand new and not profitable yet.

4. Retail shopping

You can save tons of money by shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops instead of retail.

You will save money while still satisfying your shopping habit.

Children grow out of clothes faster than you can keep them stocked. The same amount of clothes at a consignment shop will cost you half the price or less than a retail store.

That means you will be able to get twice as much for a super low price. That’s a win-win!

Check your local area for consignment shops and thrift stores near you. Rhea Lana is my favorite children’s consignment event.

By skipping retail stores we easily save over $2,000 a year and you can too.

5. Meal plan

It’s rare for us to go out to eat. I’m vegetarian and my husband is vegan so there aren’t many food options for us at restaurants anyway.

We meal plan every month which not only saves us money but takes the stress out of mealtime.

By planning your meals in advance you will save money at the grocery store by not buying food you’ll never cook.

Veggie burgers are one of our favorites. We eat them every single week. Minimalist Baker has a recipe that’s simple and awesome.

We also eat quinoa fried “rice” on a regular basis. I’m slightly obsessed!

Try planning out our meals for a week instead of buying random items at the store when you’re hungry.

We went from spending $1,100 each month down to $600 per month.

This was accomplished by occasionally eating out and planning a grocery list in advance we could stick to.

We save $6,000 a year. This is great for us because my husband eats more than an entire football team!

6. Cell phone service

I’m absolutely not going to say get rid of your cell phone! Especially after I’ve mentioned the awesome budgeting app we use to help us stay on track.

After adding up our monthly expenses, we realized our cell phones were one of our most expensive bills. We were spending over $200 a month for 2 phone lines!

It made no sense to be paying that much for phones.

We shopped around and compared prices and plans of different companies.

Once we figured out who offered the most options for the best price, we made the switch. Our bill went from $200 a month down to $130 a month.

We were also able to get brand new phones.

Shop around and negotiate your bill down. Companies hate losing your business to someone else.

They’ll work with your budget so they can gain you as a customer. It will take some effort to shop around and get the best deal, but it is definitely worth the huge savings.

If you don’t want to shop around you can try Trim. They may be able to negotiate your bills down to 30% cheaper than what you’re paying now.

By finding cheaper cell phone service, we save $70 per month. That equals a saving of $840 each year.

7. Cable

Are you paying $200 a month to watch the same 15 channels over and over again?

Cable companies trap you by offering low prices during the promotional period and skyrocketing them once the promotion ends.

They know you’re not going to remember to call them 24 months after you signed up to change your package plan.

Our bill was $170 because we thought we needed all the movie channels and all the extra channels we never watched.

We got rid of our cable and switched to satellite which got our bill down to $80/month.

Watching tv can take up a bulk of your day.

You can be much more productive without scanning over the abundance of channels just to watch the same movie for the 78th time.

If you’re ready to get rid of cable and cut that cost entirely, try switching to the fire stick and streaming your tv shows. 

You could even use both, Netflix and Hulu, and your bill will still be less than cable.

By cutting cable and making the switch to satellite we save $90 a month. Each year we save $1,080.

8. Cheaper mortgage

By getting a house under our budget we’ve saved so much!

We qualified for a $280K loan towards our house. Instead of tying up a large majority of our money into a mortgage, we made the decision to be frugal.

Since we knew I would leave my nursing career to be a stay at home mom, we bought a house we could afford on my husband’s salary.

We found a great starter home for $140K.

If you haven’t yet bought a home, consider getting one under your budget. This is a temporary house that will help your family save money for your dream house.

Of course, I would love to have a big fancy house with a chef’s kitchen and formal dining room. But I love staying home with my daughter even more.

After only 3 years of living in our home, we gained an extra $30K in equity.

I’m able to stay home and grow my business without stressing over bills.

If you already have a mortgage, here are several ways you can pay it off early.

Famous last words…

Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. You will finally gain financial freedom which is priceless!

Your family can take that dream vacation or you can be a stay at home mom like you’ve always wanted.

By deciding what is a necessity from what is a want, you can save thousands.

We save over $20k every year and I’m able to be home with my daughter while running an online business!

There’s so much you can do with that excess money. The possibilities are endless!

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Great tips! I agree, those music subscriptions always get you. They start out free and then you’re charged monthly before you know it!

    1. Yes! It’s always a surprise.

  2. Amazing tips! But I have to ask, how do you keep your food budget so low?? We don’t have any diet restrictions and I try and budget $100 a week, but it’s always closer to $160-180 a week. We do have two toddlers, but they don’t eat a crazy amount or anything. I do meal plans but rarely have been able to stay under $120. Maybe it’s location? We live in a rural part of Wisconsin, which means tourist town and 2 grocery stores, so not much competition.

    1. Hey Amanda! I thought our grocery budget was still pretty high for only 2 people! I think the most effective way we lower costs is by buying anything we can in bulk. Things like rice, quinoa, and beans I get the biggest bag I can find since those are our staple items. And it may also be our location. I’m in Arkansas which is where Walmart was born so all of our stores are competing with them. We mainly shop at Whole Foods but there’s a Walmart less than 5 minutes away so the prices are always pretty low and they have a lot of sales.

  3. This is such a great list! Where I live you definitely need a car, but we are currently a one car household since my husband is the only one who works. I’m definitely going to start getting better about meal planning and having a grocery budget.

    1. Thanks Samantha! I can’t wait to get another car but then I realize I have nowhere to go anyway lol

  4. Awesome post! It’s always good to find ways to save some money in the household.

    1. Thanks Monica! I completely agree!

  5. It’s amazing how fast having a kid will turn you into a budget planner!! Cutting back on eating out was a big $$ saver for us.

    1. Oh my gosh yes!! We were so reckless with our spending before our daughter was born.

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