How Can I Save When Im On A Tight Budget?
Many people, this writer included, are experiencing a "tightening of the belt" these days. One of the hardest struggles during these times is to find ways to save money on a tight budget. Whether you wish to pay down a credit card, save money for Christmas gifts, or just put money in the bank, actually budgeting saving money can be painfully hard. Have no fear, though, there are some ways saving money can be made easier.
Below, I will share with you a few ways to save money on a tight budget that can save you at least a couple hundred dollars a month. You will aslo find that in some ways saving money builds as you look down your monthly budget. Now I know a couple hundred dollars may not go far towards retirement, debt reduction, or a new home; but if you could save extra money each month you can make your budget work wonders!
Finding Recurring Debt That You Can Cut
One of the best ways you can save on a tight budget is by eliminating some recurring debt. Recurring debt is any payment that you have to make on a regular basis, typically monthly. These can range from a house payment to a magazine or newspaper subscription.
Now, when we have debt up to our eyeballs and are budgeting saving money on everything down to how many pieces of toilet paper to use per restroom visit, most of us focus on the large payments. Often we try to "wish" our debt away or look for easy ways out. The best way to tackle our situation is to begin with the smallest debts.
14% of US households have online gaming subscriptions and over 60% of US households have newspaper or magazine subscriptions. Sit down and write out each of your bills, leave nothing out! Once you have done so, starting with the smallest monthly payments, look for those you can do without. Do you have monthly or yearly magazine or newspaper subscriptions, monthly satellite radio or netflix? Get out of these agreements. If there is a penalty for early termination, weigh that fee out versus how much time is left in the subscription.
Use A Cash Only System
Among all the ways to save on a tight budget, this one is perhaps the hardest for some to implement, mainly due to habit. In a world of credit cards, debit cards, and banking online, we hardly use cash anymore. Just swipe the plastic and walk away. To often this leads to empty debit accounts and maxed out credit cards. For most Americans, the use of plastic currency is impersonal and doesn't "hurt" as much as using the cold, hard cash for which you slave away.
Using cash only, at least for everything except bills that must be mailed in, will help you take your spending more personally. Set aside a certain amount of cash for each person for meals during the weekdays. Set aside an amount for groceries. Only spend what is set aside. Soon you will find more money in the checking account at the end of the month and your debit card not needing to be replaced due to a worn out strip on the back side.
Back To The Basics
Another easy and quick way to free up some room in your budget is to look at some of the monthly bills you can't do without and making sure you only get the basic "package." For instance, if you have cable or satellite TV, drop down to the lowest package available. For $20 to $30 a month you can do without HD for a while. If you have a cell phone agreement, do you really need unlimited minutes or unlimited web? Use the cell phone more sparingly; you may get more accomplished.
Also, if you have credit card debt, look at your card agreement. If you have a monthly service fee, you may be able to close the account, still pay at your current rate, and have more of your payment go to your principle. You will also want to make sure you are not enrolled in any of the "extras" your credit card company may have offered you in the past. These programs usually are much more costly than beneficial.
Change Your Diet!
I know, I know, don't mess with your food. One easy way to cut money out of your budget is to curb your diet. Why save money on food? Well, because it is an easy target: you spend money every day on food, therefore if you can save a little each meal, that will add up.
Eat out less, if any. Use a meal planner to plan out what you cook so that you have food left over for lunch at work. Buy certain foods in bulk to save, and use coupons!! There is usually good money to be saved in a food budget, and if you are "hungry" enough, you can find it!
The quickest way to save in this area is to cut out the "extras." Do you smoke? How much do you spend a month on cigarettes? Drink soft drinks? If you cut one soft drink per day, you can save on average $15 or more a month.
To Win With A Budget, Write It Down!!
To many people struggling with money simply try to "cut back" without actually having a written budget. They have no idea how much is actually coming in and going out. Take time to write out an actual budget. Account for every dollar.
Most people who feel they are broke and have no way out actually change their perspective when they find out how much they actually have and waste. A few simple changes in spending can make a large change for many people, and having peace of mind that a way out is not out of reach can be paramount.
Make Your Budget More Modern..
As I have outlined further in my hub on Personal Budgeting Tools, never before has the average person had so many ways to gain the upper hand on their budget, bills, and debt in general. Anyone desiring to get a better hold on their personal or business finances should utilize the versatility, control, and depth that many smartphone apps can make available.
The types of apps that can make the quickest impact on your ability to control your finances are bill reminder apps, budgeting apps, and even apps that allow you direct control of your bank accounts. Never again should you wonder, "Did I pay that bill?", or "Is my check register correct?" Many of these apps are available with password protection and offer plenty of support.
One thing to keep in mind when utilizing these apps is that you should only use those that are either approved by Apple (if you have an Iphone) or those that you can confirm online they do not have issues with privacy or security. Most of these apps keep the information you input on your phone, but a few download info to a website where you are able to access even more help.
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Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on December 16, 2010:
bloggering from Southern California on December 16, 2010:
Excellent post and well written!
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on December 11, 2010:
Sure. Live and learn right? Thanks for the comment.
jennyb30 from Ireland on December 11, 2010:
Great Article. Thanks for the tips!
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on December 07, 2010:
Thanks for the comment!
Mandeeadair from California on December 06, 2010:
Well written! Good advice. :) Thanks for sharing.