19 Ways To Save Money On A Tight Budget

When you have a tight budget, it can feel stressful to pay your monthly bill each month. And that’s BEFORE you even think about saving any money. We’ve all been there.

But I’m here to tell you with a few simple tricks, that saving on a tight budget is possible. It doesn’t require special skills or even a lot of sacrifice. With a little bit of work and patience, you can find a few dollars (or even a few hundred dollars) to save each month.

In this article, I’ll share 19 ways to save money on a tight budget that I’ve found over the years.

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Can You Save Money on a Tight Budget?

If you’re on a tight budget or have a low income, you probably think it’s impossible to save money. After all, you’re barely getting by each week. How could you possibly save any money?

It’s possible. You just have to start thinking a little outside the box.

Yes, it requires a bit of forward-thinking and planning. But trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll be able to put aside money, even if it’s only a few dollars, and the savings will add up over time.

Even if you think there’s no room to save a penny in your budget, I’ll show you just how easy it is to make saving a priority.

Sometimes you’ll need to cut back on certain expenses, and other times it requires a little creativity and labor. Either way, I promise it won’t be a miserable experience.

What Does It Mean to Save Money?

Many people assume saving money means they’re saving hundreds of dollars at a time. That’s not the case, though. Even if you save a few dollars a week, you are saving. It’s all about changing your mindset. 

If you have to cut back on a few expenses, don’t look at it like sacrificing. Instead, look at it as investing in your and your family’s future. For example, even if you give up a $5 unnecessary habit daily, you’ll save $35 a week and $140 a month—all with one little change. 

If sacrificing isn’t your thing, find ways to make a little side cash, earning $100 or more fast

Whether you’re saving a few pennies or a few hundred dollars, every cent you save counts. If you put the money away in a savings account, it will earn interest too. Better yet, if you invest the money, compound interest will have an even greater impact, meaning your earnings will grow even faster.

So without further ado, let’s look at the top 19 ways to save money on a tight budget!

19 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

1. Get Control of Your Finances

The very first step in saving money on a tight budget is getting control of your finances. If you don’t have financial goals or a budget, now’s the time to start. 

If you want to save but don’t have a reason, there won’t be anything to motivate you to follow through. And a budget is key to making sure your spending is under control, so there is money to save each month.

One of the best tools for this is the very popular app, YNAP, short for You Need A Budget. It has helped millions of people stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt, and save money.

Try YNAB free for 34 days and let it prove to you that budgeting is your way out of a hard situation.

2. Pay Yourself First

Many finance gurus have preached the phrase “pay yourself first,” and it’s definitely one I agree with. When you prioritize a specific amount for savings each month, you’re ensuring that your goal isn’t overtaken by unnecessary spending.

Have a set amount of savings taken out of each paycheck and deposited into your savings or investment account. That way, you aren’t tempted to spend more money, and you can pay yourself first.

3. Change Bank Accounts

Most people don’t realize their bank account costs them money.

For example, if you don’t meet the bank’s minimum balance requirements, they may charge you a monthly maintenance fee. It’s probably only $5 to $10, but that’s $60 to $120 a year of your own money wasted!

If you can’t meet your bank account’s minimum deposit requirements, change banks. Get an account that doesn’t have minimum balance requirements or one with requirements you can meet every month. 

Plus, many banks offer a cash bonus just for opening an account with them and keeping a balance for 60 to 90 days.

Chase Bank, my favorite national bank, is offering a $200 sign-up bonus just for changing banks.

4. Shop for Cheaper Insurance

Insurance is a necessity, so don’t go without it, but that doesn’t mean you should overspend on it. Too many of us get comfortable with our current insurance company and ignore the premium increases that occur each year.

Before paying your next insurance premium, shop around. Usually, when you go with a new insurance company, you’ll get lower rates because they want to lure you in. Or, at the very least, call your insurance agent to see what they can do for you.

Either way. Make it a point to do this at the same time each year, and you’ll continually save money on your insurance costs.

And if you’re like me, you don’t like taking the time to fill in your personal information just to get ONE quote and then do the whole thing over again just to get another quote.

That’s why I like Insurify.

Insurify will show you 10 or more quotes from top-ranked companies within 2 minutes, and let you buy within 5 minutes or less. Save time and money.

5. Meal Plan

Planning your meals takes the guesswork out of the week. With the busyness of life, it’s easy to run through a drive-thru, order in, or go to the grocery store on a whim to grab ingredients for dinner.

This only leads to overspending at the grocery store or eating out unnecessarily.

Instead, create a meal plan at the beginning of the week. Use your local grocery store’s sales circular to plan your meals. 

Look at the meat (or a vegetarian option) that’s on sale and plan your meals around them. If you eat meat, include a day or two of meatless meals each week to lower your grocery bill even further.

6. Refinance Your Mortgage

With interest rates as low as they are today, see if you’re eligible to refinance and save money. This is one of the easiest ways to potentially save thousands of dollars.

I’ve refinanced my home at least five times already and will save over $25,000 in interest over the life of the mortgage.

You don’t have to go to each bank to check your mortgage rates either. Credible (NMLS #1681276) makes it easy to compare loan offers from several lenders with one application.

It takes only a few minutes, and the entire process is online. You can see what lenders will offer you and compare it to what you pay now. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you can save at least 1%, but each homeowner has a different threshold.

Credible allows you to compare lenders in just 3 minutes. You’ll get actual rates from multiple lenders without impacting your credit score.

Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account each month for the amount that you’ll save with the new loan. This strategy of refinancing will help you save money on a tight budget. 

7. Keep a 48-Hour Impulse Buying Rule

Only shop with a list—it’s as simple as that. But, if you happen to come across something you REALLY want, give yourself 48 hours to decide if the impulse buy is actually a good idea. The thrill of most impulse buys wears off in less than 24 hours, but give yourself that cushion.

If you’re still thinking about the item in 48 hours, figure out if you can afford it right now. Make sure you don’t rack up credit card debt or go over budget. though.

8. Cut Back on Internet and Phone Charges

When you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, it’s important to cut back on certain ‘unnecessary’ expenses. For example, the internet is important, but is a gigabit internet connection a necessity?

The same is true of your cell phone plan. Is there a cheaper plan available that makes more sense given your budget? You don’t have to give up your phone, but maybe you can give up unlimited text messaging or data to free up some cash for savings each month.

9. Get Rid of Unwanted Subscriptions

It’s easy to get caught up in ghost subscriptions or subscriptions you joined for the free trial but then didn’t cancel before they started charging.


If you don’t have time to comb through your credit card and bank statements, let Trim help you out.

Trim is an AI app that analyzes your spending and finds old, unwanted subscriptions you don’t need. It will cancel them for you and even negotiate other bills like cable, internet, and phone bills on your behalf – saving users an average of $625.

10. Start a Side Hustle

If you are just getting by with the salary from your 9 to 5, consider starting a side hustle. There are hundreds of ways to make money on the side.

Whether you drive for Uber or Lyft, deliver for Ubereats, shop for Instacart, or walk dogs, there is literally something for everyone.

Earmark the money you make from your side hustle for your savings account. Don’t put the money in your spending account and let lifestyle creep happen. Automatically deposit the funds in an online high-yield savings account and let your money grow.

11. Work From Home

If you don’t have the time or desire to work a side hustle outside of your home, consider starting a side hustle from home. A few common ideas people use to make money from home include freelance writing, web design, teaching English online, or even selling your old items.

Alternatively, if you love your day job, try to negotiate a work-from-home arrangement. Your boss may go for it a couple of times a week or even full-time. 

12. Refinance Your Student Loans

The average student graduates college with almost $40,000 in debt. A debt of that size can make it hard to buy a house or even pay your rent.

Rather than suffering from high student loan payments, see how much money you can save by refinancing your student loans with SoFi

They have a simple process, and you can earmark the amount you’re saving each month for your savings or investment account. You’ll also get a $300 bonus for refinancing to a lower rate with them. They’ll even give you $10 free just to check your rate.

13. Change Your TV Service

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard the phrase “cut the cord” a million times. Instead of paying for cable, choose a less expensive streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, for example, which costs a fraction of the cost of contracts with companies like Verizon or Comcast. 

Find a streaming service that offers the shows you like to watch the most. After all, you don’t need hundreds of channels that you typically don’t watch. You’ll be able to save the difference between your cable bill and the new streaming service.

14. Shop Around Before Making Large Purchases

When you need to make a large purchase (assuming you budgeted for it), shop around. If you’re buying furniture or appliances, time your purchases around major holidays like the Fourth of July or Memorial Day when furniture and appliance stores run sales. 

Even if you think you don’t have time, the internet makes it simple to shop around. Get prices from at least three stores before buying and see how much money you can save. Just make sure it’s something you actually need before hitting “submit.”

15. Don’t Use Credit Cards

If you’re using credit cards as an extension of your income, you’re losing the money you could be saving. Credit card interest accumulates fast and makes it almost impossible to save. 

Don’t use your credit card if you can’t afford to pay for an item in full. Instead, save money each month to cover the cost and pay for it in cash, avoiding the credit card interest.

No, I’m not going to tell you to cut up your credit cards like Dave Ramsey. But, be smart. 

16. Use Cash Back Apps

Today it’s easy to save money even if you don’t clip coupons. Cash back apps like Rakuten give you money back for your purchases. Each app works differently, so learn how they work before signing up. 

Some apps require you to link a credit card to the app, and they reward you for your spending. Others require you to activate offers, shop through their browser extension, or upload receipts to get credit for your purchases. 

Put any earnings you make aside in an account and let the savings add up.

17. Declutter and Sell Unused and Old Items

There’s no better way to declutter and make money for your savings at the same time than by selling your stuff. Start looking for things you don’t use or need anymore. Once you have a handful of things to sell, you can get started on one of these platforms:

  • eBay
  • Letgo
  • Poshmark
  • Decluttr
  • Swappa
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace

Since you didn’t expect this extra money, put it right into your savings or investment account!

18. Cut Back on Personal Spending

Do you go to the golf course every week or get your nails done each month?

Instead of making this a regular thing you do, cut back on personal spending. If you make it a special activity rather than a regular occurrence, you’ll save money and even appreciate the luxury more!

Now, I’m not one to encourage you to drop everything fun. Without a little bit of spending money, it’ll be really hard to obtain a life balance and sustain working towards your financial goals.

So, the TLDR of this tip is everything in moderation.

19. Complete a Savings Challenge

Want to know one of my favorite ways to save money on a tight budget? An old-fashioned savings challenge!

You can set this up however you’d like—with specific goals and timeframes. They can also be as small or as big as you want them to be.

You can find a ton of printables online that you color in as you meet benchmarks during the challenge or set up a spreadsheet to track your progress. It may help if you have your spouse or partner participate with you or do it alongside a friend or family member who has similar savings goals.

The Bottom Line

Anyone can find easy ways to save money on a tight budget. It just requires a little thinking outside the box. You may have to sacrifice slightly, but that’s okay. Think of it as investing in your future. 

Some changes, like shopping around for cheaper insurance or cutting back on internet costs, don’t require too much inconvenience. But if you don’t have the time or patience to look for ways to save money, try Trim or a budgeting app like YNAB to see where you can cut back.

About John Pham

John Pham is a personal finance expert, serial entrepreneur, and founder of The Money Ninja. He has also been fortunate enough to have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and U.S. News & World Report. John has a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of New Hampshire.

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2 years ago

These are some good tips John. We went from two incomes to one and had to tighten up the spending. It’s amazing all that’s revealed when taking the time to work out a budget. I looked at insurance, fastinsurancerate.com compares quotes which can help. I’ll also have to remember your recommended company, Insurify. I also took a closer look at my eating out expenses, I had a ton going out here. Convenience eating is a killer. Cheers.

2 years ago
Reply to  John Pham

The best offers I received so far after quoting were in the low 130s (monthly), where my existing premium is 180. This is for two vehicle + home. I’m actually still going through the process. Saving money takes work too! I haven’t done this for awhile, but I try to do this periodically.