When you are living on a tight budget, it’s especially important to save money because you have a smaller margin to live with. I’ve heard many people say that there’s no way they can save money, because they just don’t have enough of it, but they’ll save when their income increases. I’d like to dispute that myth. Have you ever heard of the lottery winners who win mega-millions? Five to ten years later, most of them have gone bankrupt because their financial habits didn’t change; many of them still had no idea how to budget or manage money. The key to saving money is to change the way you look at your income.
Re-evaluate your budget.
Take a good look at every single penny that goes in and out of your hands. If you don’t budget, this is the perfect time to start. Write down every expense you have in the month and every thing you spend money on. And I mean everything. If you’re like me, if you don’t carefully track your money, it will disappear in no time. Take a look at every single thing you spend money on and determine if it’s really necessary. If you don’t have a budget, get one.
Cut out the extras.
Do you really need a frappuccino every morning from that expensive coffee shop? What about that gym membership? If you go out to eat multiple nights a week, try cutting it down to 1 or 2 times a week.
Cut grocery expenses.
One of the biggest things we spend money on, at least in my household, is food. What can I say, we love to eat! I’ve found that meal planning helps me reduce food waste, which in turns reduces our grocery expenses. Also, if you have a discount grocer like Aldi’s nearby, check them out! I’ve had great success buying food from Aldi’s at a fraction of the cost.
Turn down the thermostat.
One of my older relatives always got so upset whenever we’d mindlessly switch the thermostat as we were feeling uncomfortable tempature-wise. She’d always make us grab a blanket or a fan, depending on the weather. Now that I have a place of my own, I can definitely understand her logic– utility bills are expensive! Although I work from home during the day, before I leave the house when I’m going somewhere, I turn the temperature down (or up, depending on if you’re running the heat or air) a bit so the thermostat kicks off.
Reduce housing expenses.
If you have an extra bedroom, you can consider taking in a roommate. If that doesn’t appeal to you, look into downsizing to a smaller house or apartment.
Automatically deduct your savings from your checking account into your savings account.
Save as much as you can, even if it’s a small amount at first. Once you put it into your savings account, you won’t be tempted to spend it.
And here’s a bonus tip: Pick up a side hustle. This has been the best way for me to increase my savings. I do freelance writing, but the options are unlimited! If you’re a teacher, see about tutoring. If you love to drive, consider being an Uber or Lyft driver. A friend of mine who loves reading worked nights and weekends at a bookstore in addition to her day job. (She did this to pay off debt, and managed to pay off thousands of dollars in just a year!) Like I mentioned above, automatically deduct as much of your side hustle income into savings so you aren’t tempted to spend it.
If you’re living on a small income, it’s especially important to save “just in case” an emergency comes your way. I recently had some emergencies come up that I was thankful I had my emergency fund for. I wasn’t able to avoid new debt completely, but I avoided it as much as possible!