Ever since I was a kid I was brought up to be frugal and to save and budget money. * Disclaimer: I am not a financial planner.
How to save cash on a budget
Don't worry! There are plenty of ways to save money on a budget without sacrificing anything important in life or compromising your financial goals. Here are some tips:
Make a budget.
Making a budget is the first step to saving money. If you don't know where your cash is going, it's impossible to cut back on expenses. To make one, you'll need to track all incoming and outgoing funds for a month—and if your income varies each month (for example, because of seasonal work), use average amounts for the months in which it's more consistent.
Next comes sticking to the budget—or making adjustments as necessary. You may find that some items are more important than you thought they were when you made your list; others may be optional or even unnecessary. That's fine; just revise accordingly!
Save $100 (or more) each month.
Cutting out a few small expenses can be an easy way to save $100 (or more) each month. Here are some examples:
- Buy store brand over brand name. You might think you're getting better quality, but studies show that's not necessarily true. For example, Consumer Reports found that Costco's Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil scored as well as or better than big brands like California Olive Ranch and Bertolli in blind taste tests.
- Skip your daily Starbucks run and brew your own coffee at home instead—it'll cost less than half of what you'd spend for just one drink at Starbucks! You could also make instant coffee from scratch if you have time to boil the water on the stovetop; it's cheaper than buying instant packets.
- Eat dinner at home instead of ordering takeout every night (or even once or twice a week). It will save money on restaurant food costs—plus there are lots of healthy recipes available online that are easy to make at home without much prep time involved!
Refinance your student loans.
Refinancing student loans is a great way to save money on your monthly payments and get out of debt faster.
Refinancing works by taking out a new loan at a lower interest rate than what you're currently paying. Many lenders offer special incentives to military service members, teachers and first responders that can help bring down the cost of refinancing your student loans as well.
Up your credit score
An important aspect of your financial health is your credit score. It's essentially a number that reflects how well you've managed your debt over the years, and it's one of the factors lenders use to determine whether or not you'll be approved for a loan.
A good credit score can help you get the best interest rate possible on loans like mortgages and car loans, which will save you money in the long run. For example, if Jackson wants to buy a house but has poor credit with an average APR (annual percentage rate) of 13 percent, then he might end up paying thousands more than necessary every year in interest payments because his mortgage would be too expensive for him otherwise. But if he improves his credit score so he gets approved for loans at lower APRs (say 8 percent), then he could afford houses that would have been out of reach before — all because of his improved credit score!
Negotiate your bills.
- Call your bills and ask for a lower rate. It's easy to forget about the power of negotiation, especially when you're already in debt and have so many other things on your mind. But if you don't ask, then you will never receive—so call your cable company, internet provider or cell phone carrier and request a lower price based on the following factors:
- You're a loyal customer; they should know this by now!
- You'll pay in full or with a credit card. If they don't seem to care either way (or sound annoyed when offering their services), consider switching providers before paying off any outstanding balances.
- You're going to pay early. This may sound like common sense, but people who are struggling financially often think that paying their bills late is an OK thing to do because "it's only two days." However, these two days can add up quickly over time and lead to debt collection agencies demanding payment from collectors whose rates are even higher than those charged by companies themselves!
Start a side hustle
- Side hustle: A side hustle is anything you do in your spare time for a little extra cash. It can be as simple as selling old clothes on eBay, or it can be something more complex like training and breeding dogs for competitions.
- Save: The best way to save money is by making sure you don't spend it all at once! The more money you have saved up, the less likely it will be that an unexpected expense will ruin your budget—and the more resources you'll have if an emergency does come up.
Try the 50/30/20 rule.
The 50/30/20 rule is a great way to get on track with your spending.
- 50% of your income should go to necessities, like rent and groceries.
- 30% of your income should go to wants, like coffee and movies.
- 20% of your income should be put toward savings. If you have debt, this money should be used to pay it off first — then keep saving!
Cut back on food expenses.
- Cut back on food expenses.
This may be the hardest thing to do, but it’s also the most important. If you manage to cut out every single dollar that goes toward unhealthy foods and eating out, you can save a ton of cash! You might think it’s impossible to live without junk food or fast food—because who doesn't love those salty chips or sugary sodas? But with willpower and some effort, anyone can cut their grocery budget down by a significant amount.
If you have any tips for cutting back on food expenses in particular, let us know in the comments below!
Cancel your gym membership and exercise at home instead
A gym membership can be very expensive, so you might want to cancel it and exercise at home instead. There are plenty of exercises that don’t cost anything at all, like walking or running in the park, playing a sport (like tennis or volleyball), cycling or jogging on a stationary bike, doing basic stretches and push ups while watching TV — the list goes on. You can also use equipment you already have like dumbbells or kettlebells to build strength training routines. Apps such as Workout Trainer will give you workouts specifically designed for home use!
Stop buying it and start renting it.
Renting is the best option for a lot of stuff. The idea that you have to buy a television, or a car, or an electric drill just because that's what people do is simply wrong—and it can be expensive. It's much cheaper to rent these things than it is to buy them outright.
Renting also works well for items you use infrequently (like snow blowers), items you're only going to use for a short period of time (like tents or hot tubs) and tools that are used exclusively for work (like power tools).
You can save cash on a budget, but you have to be smart about it.
If you have a budget, it's easy to save cash on a budget. That's because the two go hand-in-hand: having a budget means knowing how much money you can spend each month, and saving that money becomes much more manageable after you've created your monthly plan.
To get started, write down all of your expenses for one month (or longer for more accuracy). This includes rent or mortgage payments, car payments and insurance premiums. Then add up the total amount of money spent during this period. Next, take whatever is left over—that's how much additional cash you have each month!
Once you've determined how much cash is available to save from an entire year's worth of spending data, it becomes easier to decide exactly where those extra funds should go. For example, if there are $500 left over in a given year after paying all other bills but before taking out any loans or credit cards—it may be worth investing that extra fiver into savings or paying off debt instead of putting it towards retirement savings (see next step).
What you’ve learned here is that you can save cash on a budget, but it takes some work to do so. We hope that these tips help you get started in saving money and reaching your financial goals.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2022 Shanon Sandquist