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Are you living on a tight budget? While it may sound easy enough, it’s a challenge for many of us moms and I still sometimes get the urge just to splurge.
Splurging every now and then isn’t a big deal, it’s when you do it frequently that can really kill your savings plan and your future goals. But you already knew that, right? 🙂
But, not only is sticking to a tight budget possible, there are easy ways to save money on different things that can help you along the way. And, the more you can save, the better off you’ll be since you never know when an unexpected expense will pop up and you’ll want to be prepared.
An unexpected expense, depending on what it is, can cause devastation to a family if they’re not prepared. So, the faster you figure out how to live on a tight budget, the better.
Would you believe me if I told you that all you had to do is simply shift your thinking? And, while becoming a person who saves more often than they spend may be easy for some people, many are struggling with this. But, like anything, it takes consistent practice to turn “saving money” into a daily habit.
Wealthy people have already done this. They got where they are because of making this shift in their thought process. They created successful spending and saving habits to allow them to grow their wealth.
And YOU can do the same thing!
It’s as simple as saving first and spending after. You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first” a billion times. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
For now though, your goal is to start saving now so you can begin living the good life later. Stressing out every day over how you’re going to pay for this, if you can afford that or even if you can eat tonight (hey, I’ve been there) is an emotional and physical burden.
Nobody wants to live paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, many do. And, usually, its because they haven’t begun saving for their future. Many people don’t even have an emergency fund saved up.
Bottom line, you can’t prepare yourself for unexpected expenses or build your wealth, if you don’t begin saving now.
And, I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself — “duh, I know that. It’s just that I don’t have any extra money to set aside.” Well, hopefully, this post will help you shift your mindset into a “saving money” mindset and find that extra money. So, let’s start with some ways to save money on a tight budget.
1. Get Yourself Organized for Financial Savings Success
The absolute FIRST thing you need to do is GET ORGANIZED. Saving money and sticking to your budget can be difficult when your life around you is one big chaotic mess. Besides, saving money is “being organized” all on its own. So, when you can get organized and take control of your life and financial affairs, everything else seems to fall into place beautifully. So, to help you get your life organized, here’s a list of things to make sure you do first:
A. Choose an amount to automatically come out of your paycheck and be deposited directly into your savings account.
B. Get your files organized. This means create a filing system for yourself. This can be a file cabinet: You’ll want a section to neatly file your UNPAID bills and other statements. And a section where you’ll want to store your PAID bills and other statements. I’d keep those PAID statements for at least a year (just in case). You’ll also want a section where you keep all your valuable documents like birth certificates, W2s, tax forms, etc.
If you prefer to go paperless, you can opt-in for paperless bills where your statements are emailed to you. Then you can create an online filing system where you store your unpaid and paid bills and other important documents. In my research, I found a post that outlines how to set up a digital filing system. I can’t explain it better myself so I’m just going to provide you with the link to her site.
C. Get your Online Accounts Organized
Many of us have online bank accounts, utility accounts, shopping accounts and other types of online accounts. I like to bookmark these accounts into one folder so I can easily find them when I need access to them.
2. Make a Budget
I’m putting this one in here because chances are, there are probably a lot of you who don’t even have a budget. And, you can’t handle your money effectively on good thoughts only. If you don’t have your finances organized, you’ll likely just end up spending your money impulsively and on the wrong things. So, take a moment to make a budget for yourself, if you haven’t already.
Psst..check out my “How to Spend Money Like a Boss” post and grab yourself a pack of free budget planner printables. 😉
But, basically, you’re going to set aside money each month for specific bills. This can include your rent (mortgage), utilities, food, gas money, etc. You can even narrow it down even more and put aside money each month for things like clothing, incidentals, vacation and so forth.
Determine what you’re going to need to set aside each paycheck to put in your budget funds. Leave yourself some money each week for spending so that you won’t dip into your budget funds. Also, remember to pay yourself first before you put aside any money at all. A good app I found for budgeting is Mint.com. This leads us to:
3. Pay Yourself First
When you pay yourself first, I’m not referring to the little extra cash you give yourself each week to go splurge with things like going out to eat or buying something you really want. Paying yourself first is where you allocate a certain amount of money you’re going to take out of your paycheck each week FIRST before you do anything else, including putting aside budget funds.
This money is going to be the money that you put in your savings account and that you won’t touch because it’s money you’re saving for your future (or emergency). If you are struggling at the moment to get all your bills paid and still have money left over, perhaps you can start off small. Even $20 a week is a good start.
When you can bring in more money, you can add that to your “pay yourself first” savings account. Also, the best way to get this money into your savings account to ensure you’re paying yourself first is to have it automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited into this account.
That way, you don’t even have to think about it and your savings account continues to grow each week/month.
4. Compare Prices to Ensure You’re Paying the Lowest Prices
When you’re out shopping (or even online shopping), take the time to do a little comparison shopping. Don’t just settle on the first item you see. Chances are, you’re going to find it somewhere else much cheaper (even eBay). Hey, I LOVE eBay!
I’ve researched around and have found you the top 5 Comparison Shopping Engines. They are:
How they work:
A comparison shopping engine is a type of channel that collects the information on a product you are searching for, including its price. It crawls the search results and finds different participating retailers all selling that product. It then displays the information it collects on a single results page for you to find the product at the lowest price. Pretty cool ha?
This allows you to not only compare different prices for the same product, but you can also research different retailers, shipping options and other points of interest so you get the best overall value.
In the example below, I went to Google Shopping Search and did a search for “box fans”. Below are the results so you can get an idea of what it looks like.
You can even narrow down your search as you see on the left part of the image. Simple right?
When you can save money on your every day purchased items, that’s extra money you can put in your savings account.
5. Maintain your Credit Score
So, what does your credit score have to do with you being able to put money in your bank? It has A LOT to do with it. Think about it, what’s the first thing many utility companies, cable companies, and insurance companies do before they set you up with a plan? They check your credit. And, what happens when you have poor credit? They charge you a HUGE deposit.
So, by maintaining a good credit score, you can save big money on these types of services. That’s more money to put into your savings account.
6. Save Money on Grocery Shopping
Saving money on your next trip grocery shopping is a brilliant way to save money when you’re on a tight budget. How many times have you gone grocery shopping planning to spend no more than $100 and you walk out of the store with two shopping carts full of groceries?
And, since many of us often throw away a lot of food (it went bad, eyes were bigger than our stomach, etc.), that’s like throwing money in the trash. So, if you can reduce the number of groceries you buy each week or whenever you go shopping (I shop weekly), that’s more money you can put in your savings.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Save leftover food and make another meal out of it
- Shop once a week or every other week — not every night (I used to go shopping every night for our dinner)
- Tuck-away money in your budget for food and stick to it
- Collect coupons
- Shop with a list
That was another big one for me. I’d walk into the grocery store without a list and would just start taking things off the shelves. I found that when I had a list and stuck to just the list, my shopping bill went down significantly. A grocery list is especially important if you’re shopping hungry since you know how too easily it can be to grab random things when you’re starving.
Having a list and going grocery shopping each week will keep you from having to run out and grab your dinner for the night (like I did) or being tempted to order delivery or go out to eat too frequently. I like to plan my meals for the week so I know what to put down on my list to go shopping for.
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7. Start an Investment Account
Many people are now using automatic savings tools to save their spare change. As you know, spare change can add up. I’m not talking tangible coins and dollar bills. I’m talking change from online purchases. For instance, there’s a smart app called Acorns that lets you link your debit or credit up.
Each time you make an online purchase, the app rounds up the amount of your purchase to the nearest dollar and then transfers the change into your personal own investment account you have with the app.
Some features of the app are:
- Round-Ups: You invest the change you have left over from your everyday purchases.
- One-Time Investments: You can add money to your investment account any time you want.
- Referrals: Your account grows each time you refer someone who starts investing.
- Recurring Investments: Set up automatic investment either daily, weekly or monthly.
- Found Money: When shopping with certain top brands (there’s more than 200 of them), you earn money.
- Acorns Later: A simple way to save for your retirement.
- Acorns Spend: A checking account that comes with a debit card that earns, saves and invests for you.
Acorns is designed with the novice investors in mind, but experienced investors find the app helpful too. You’re investing in low-cost ETFs and as you make your online purchases, you can watch your account grow. Pretty cool!
So, there you have it — 7 easy ways to save money on various things and watch your savings account grow. I hope you find this helpful. Please comment below and let us know if you’ve tried any of these with success or if you have any ideas of your own. And don’t forget to hop on over to my post to learn how to spend money like a boss!