Let’s admit it.
 
Finding ways to save money on a tight budget feels impossible.
 
But when you hear stories like America’s Cheapest Family, you realize that you can do this.

If you don’t know their story, Annette, Steve, and their 5 kids lived comfortably on an average income of $35,000.
 
And the money saving tricks they shared were eye-opening.
 
But it got me thinking:
 
If they can do it, so can you. So here are my tips for making it happen:
 

1. Save While You Spend 

no spend challenge

I like to keep things simple. 
 
So here’s the deal:
 
I don’t always have time to clip coupons. And I know I’m not the only one.
 
So instead, I use a cash back app called Rakuten. It’s the perfect way to save money on everything you buy.
 
Here’s how it works:
 
You sign up for an account and use the search bar to find the retailer you want to shop at.
 

Here’s what I mean:

rakuten homepage
 
As you make purchases, you’ll earn money back.

 
It’s been the best way to get the lowest prices on the items I need. 
 
But fair warning:
 
It’s easy to go overboard with your spending when you know you’re saving money. So I recommend only buying things you’d normally use anyway.
 
Don’t go on a spending spree because you’re getting a bargain.
 
After all, we’re trying to save money here – not waste it.

Note: The Rakuten link above gives you a $10 welcome bonus for signing up and shopping.

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2. The B Word

man budgeting

Budgeting.
 
What did you think I was talking about?
 
Here’s the thing:
 
Your budget is your most powerful financial tool. And if you don’t have one, then you’re leaving yourself vulnerable.
 
So what’s the bottom line?
 
You can’t leave your finances up to chance. You have to have a written game plan for your money or you’ll lose every time.
 
Plus, you’re guaranteed to expose leaks in your spending once you start budgeting.
 
Benjamin Franklin said it best, ” Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
 
So consider budgeting as mini-meetings with yourself. This is about more than just finding ways to save money on a tight budget.
 
This is about investing in your financial future. So what are you waiting for?
 

3. Start Using Cash

man showing money in wallet

I never thought this would be me. But alas, I’ve become a huge fan of the cash system.
 
Here’s why:
 
Research shows that people who use cash save 12%-18% more money than people who use plastic.
 
So I knew I had to try it at least once. And you should too.
 
So here’s what I did:
 
I gave myself 12 weeks to give it my best shot and see if I liked it. I started with cash envelopes because they’re cheap and easy to use.
 
Without doing anything differently, I saved $212 the first month.
 
I was hooked.
 
You see, swiping a card doesn’t sink in like handing over your hard earned dollars. It’s more psychological than anything.
 
So after the 12 weeks was up, I switched to the SavvyCents Wallet. It’s durable and makes managing money a breeze.
 
Here’s why it works for me:
 
1 ) I’m less tempted with impulse buys
 
If I want to buy something extra that isn’t on my list, then I know I have to trade-off something else.
 
This makes my decisions easier. I have to ask myself, “Do I really need this?”
 
Most of the time, the answer is no and I move on.
 
2) I’m in total control of my money.
 
This part feels amazing.
 
3) It keeps me motivated
 
Since I know I’m saving money, it makes me motivated to find more ways to save.
 
It just works.
 

4. Don’t Feel Trapped With a Bad Interest Rate

money laying on envelope

Here’s the deal:
 
Interest rates are not fun.
 
Sorry, let me rephrase.
 
They’re terrible.
 
And in the end, lenders make a killing from the interest they charge us.

Talk about financial death by a thousand cuts.
 
So when it comes to finding ways to save money on a tight budget, you have to fix the things that cripple you financially.
 
So let’s use an example:
 
Say you only made minimum payments on your $20,000 student loan with 6% interest. After 10 years, you’d end up paying $6,644.92 in interest alone.
 
So what should do you?
 
First, stop adding more debt. Get rid of your credit cards.
 
Secondly, you have two options:
 
1. Transfer the balance to a lower-rate card
2. Use a company like SoFi to lower your interest rate for you
 
We love SoFi. They go above and beyond to help people save money.

So in a nutshell:
 
They offer student loan refinancing and personal loans for other debt. If you’re unfamiliar with that, here’s what I mean:
 
They take your debt and combine it into a single loan with a lower interest rate. As a result, you’ll save yourself hundreds – possibly thousands – in interest.
 
The best part?
 
Since you’re lowering your interest rate, you’re also lowering your monthly payment.
 
Plus, it’s a great way to keep organized with your bills. Instead of having several statements coming in each month, you’ll now only have one.
 
So just because you can’t afford to pay off the balance completely, don’t settle for a high-interest rate.
 
Know your options.
 
Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus.
 

5. Reduce Your Car Insurance Payments

inside of car

When was the last time you compared car insurance rates?
 
If it’s been a while, then it’s time to check again.
 
Why? Because you may not know this:
 
Car insurance companies earn the most money from the people who’ve been with them the longest. And even if you’ve kept a clean driving record, they don’t reevaluate your premiums often.
 
So it’s always best to shop around to get the best deal. I saved $40 by checking my insurance rate using Nerd Wallet.
 
Once I realized I could save money by switching, I decided to change companies. 
 

6. Dine in

chicken burrito

…at home.
 
Did you know that the average restaurant charges a 300% markup on their food?
 
Meaning, if you spent $30 on your meal, you could’ve made it at home for $10.
 
Listen:
 
We’ve all been guilty of making a fast food run when the “I don’t feel like cooking” mood hits.
 
But when it comes to discovering new ways to save money on a tight budget, it starts with eating at home.
 
Let’s say you spend $7 for lunch at least 3 times a week. That’s $84 a month alone. And most people eat out more than that.
 
My advice:
 
Make it simple on yourself. Give meal planning a shot or start making double portions that you can freeze for later.
 
Don’t let the convenience of fast food ruin your budget.
 

7. Automate, Automate, Automate

woman typing on laptop

 
You know what they say:
 
Out of sight, out of mind.
 
So automate your savings. Why? Because saving becomes easy when you don’t have to think about it. This is what some people call paying yourself first.
 
So here are two ways to make this happen:
 
1 ) Make your bank account automatically redirect a set amount each month. 
 
2 ) Ask your employer to deposit a certain percentage of your pay to a different account. You’ll just have to fill out a form online (or on paper) with the bank routing number.
 
Voila. Saving money becomes so easy and you didn’t even think twice.

8. Keep a Change Jar

jar full of coins

Here’s my favorite uncommon tip when it comes to saving money:
 
Keep a change jar.
 
People who use a change jar save, on average, $100-$300 a year by doing this.

Last year I saved $276. Not bad.
 
Every day when I come home from my cash system, I throw the extra change into the jar. Little by little, it adds up.
 
As William Lowndes once said, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
 

9. Pocket the Extra Money

couple holding pink piggy bank

Here’s the deal:
 
There are several months out of the year that have five weeks instead of four. This means that if you stick to your budget, then you’ll be able to get an entire month ahead on bills.
 
What’s better than saving money you weren’t planning on having anyway?
 
Not to mention, consider saving things like this:
 

  • Tax Refunds
  • Bonus Checks
  • Raises
  • Birthday Money

 

Once you get serious about finding ways to save money on a tight budget, you’ll become savvier with your money.
 
So anytime you get extra money, ask yourself:
 
How can I use this to help me reach my financial goals?
 
You’ll be glad you did.
 

10. Set Goals

office desk

Write it down, make it happen.
 
How much money do you want to have saved in 6 months? A year?
 
You’re more tempted to waste your money when you don’t have savings goals. So do something now that you’ll thank yourself for later.
 

 11. Start Saving Now, Tomorrow Won’t Make it Any Easier

man looking at laptop

Here’s the bottom line:
 
If you can start now, you’ll have a much higher chance of actually succeeding.
 
Even if you just drop $20 into a high-interest savings account – it’s better than not starting at all.
 
Listen:
 
It can be hard to save money. I’ll be the first to tell you that this takes work. But just like any other skill, it gets better with time and practice.
 
So are you ready?

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Jessica Campbell obtained her Bachelor’s of Accounting from Northwood University. She’s been a Certified Public Accountant with Collins P.C. Financial Group for over 7 years, and serves as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. After paying off over $75,000 worth of debt, she became focused on helping others navigate their financial lives and become debt free. Connect with Jessica on LinkedIn.

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