Top 10 Ways To Save Money On a Tight Budget

I have found in my quest to achieve financial freedom, it is essential to be disciplined in my spending habits. There are a number of creative ways to save money but first ask yourself why, why are you trying to save money? 

Identify your reason and keep this at the forefront of your mind and it will help keep you on the right road.  

Get clear about where your money is currently going. It’s 2018 and there are tons of money management apps that can help, but my Bullet Journal works great for me.  It brought to light how much money I was spending on groceries, gas, and entertainment on a monthly basis.

Related: 6 Incredible Bullet Journal Ideas to Organize your Money

Determine if the expenses are worth it. Remember your WHY and that will help you scale back on nonessentials.

Saving practices are personal choices, this is what works for me. I challenge you to try one or even all and you’ll see an impact on your savings.

How do you save your money? Is it by stashing it under your mattress, putting it in your bank’s savings account earning a whopping 0.06% interest? Consider making money while you save with Interest.

CIT Bank’s high-yield savings account has literally one of the highest interest rates of 2.25% I’ve ever seen. If you put your money in this account it will also make it less tempting to use.

Click here to take advantage of this insane rate

If you can make more money, it’s even easier to save. See this list of ways to make money from home.

I recently wrote a post on more creative ways to save that I KNOW people aren’t doing. You’ll have to check it out here.

Below are the Top 10 Ways to Save Money When You are On a Tight Budget

Bonus Tips: Get to the end of this post and you’ll see how I get $500+ of FREE money EVERY year AND how I get FREE oil changes, car repairs, and food!


1. How Much Money Are you Spending on Food?

It’s amazing how much we spend on food whether it’s grocery shopping or going out to eat. I could go on and on about how we overspend on food but to simplify it; I suggest following these best practices:

  • Meal Plan – Tiffany at Eat at Home has saved our family hundreds! I really didn’t know how to meal plan and we were spending $1,000 a month on groceries and it was just TWO of us. She provides inexpensive weekly meal plans, grocery lists, and recipes.
  • Buy In Bulk Do you have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership?  You may find better deals at your local grocery store for certain items, but there are some bulk food store prices that are so hard to beat.  Check out this post on 19 Unbeatable Deals You Can Only Find at Costco
  • Lighten up on Brand Loyalty – Some Brands are smart choices, they have stood the test of time and we can trust the quality. Its ok to try an off brand, they have very similar flavors and a smaller price tag.  Take a few tests to try your off brands and see if it works for you.
  • Couponing – This is a great way to save money, you can experience immediate savings by taking a few minutes to clip coupons. Couponing could also be a good social activity to do with others.

2. Renegotiate your Contracts

Do you have cable, internet, car insurance (hopefully you do), or still a landline phone?  If you have not attempted to negotiate a better rate in the past year, do it today or let this awesome app Trim do it for you!

This app is FREE and acts as your personal finance assistant and does all the negotiating for you. Nice huh? You could easily save $100 using this tool.

Click here to start saving money with Trim

3. Reconsider Warranties

There are dealerships, phone companies, and stores that make money on the “possibilities” with warranties and insurance. There are times you thank God for having a warranty if a product fails, but there are many cases where you never use it.  

You are taking a risk if you purchase it or if you don’t.  I look at it this way… if you don’t purchase it, save the money for the “what if” and if you don’t use it you get to keep the money.

Something to consider but it’s good to always weigh the pros and cons before making this important decision.

4. Do you really need cable?

Notice I didn’t ask if you need internet because that’s pretty much non-negotiable in most households. We use Roku, Netflix and you can use Sling for $25 a month for live tv (try it out for 7-days FREE). Sling is nice because you can stop it anytime you want, you are not locked into a contract. 

This is a huge lifestyle change, but you could save over $1,000 or more a year.


Nails, Hair, Eyebrows, Home Design, and even plumbing, car repairs, oil changes can all be performed by you.  

Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube and Pinterest, you can literally learn anything, and it will save you a lot of money if you just do it yourself.

6. Live Life for the Free

Libraries, community events, parks, museums (on certain days), walking trails, playdates are all very FREE fun things to do. Make sure to pack a lunch when you do outdoor activities.  And don’t forget to make sure you enjoy all the free deals on your birthday

7. Fly Southwest

So you travel much?  Consider flying Southwest Airlines when you do, in addition to the fact that you can change your flight, cancel at no charge, and check your bag for free, you can also buy your ticket and if you see a cheaper price for the same flight you can call up to the day you depart and they’ll credit your account for the difference.

DISCLAIMER: Your credit has to be used within a year.

8. Try Second Hand

Clothes, electronics, home decor, and so many things can all be purchased gently used.  Check out your local second-hand stores, and I’m sure you’ll find great deals on practically unworn clothes!

eBay and Craigslist can be your best friends for finding gently used electronics, home decor and more.  Don’t count out garage sales and thrift stores. This is called “frugal living”, but it doesn’t have to look like it.

9. Reduce the purchase of Bottled Water

Do you buy bottled water? Stop! I realized I could just use the water filter on my refrigerator or use a water bottle if I want to travel with it. Bottled water doesn’t cost much, but it does add up over time.

If you use a water filter be sure to replace the filter every 6 months, they are costly but consider it an investment.  

While we are talking about water and saving, can you make this your beverage of choice when going out to eat? The health benefits are great and its FREE!

10. Use Ebates

Do you shop online? Why not make a little money as you spend.  I really rack up my Ebates account during Christmas time; you earn cash back rewards for just shopping online.  See my January cash back statement, a nice little bonus for shopping online. 

Better than nothing, right? 

Click here to get $10 when you spend at least $25 online.

But wait…there’s more.

Have you ever heard of Honey? You’ll no longer need to search for coupon codes and sales again! Click on the Honey Google Chrome extension during checkout and Honey will automatically apply coupon codes to your shopping cart.

Great way to save money and find deals without doing the work yourself. It’s FREE and you can check it out here.

Bonus Tips

11. Make Sure Your Credit Isn’t Costing You Money

Credit Sesame is a FREE tool that monitors your credit daily and gives you an overview of your credit situation and score! It even gives you personalized savings advice in areas where you could be overpaying AND…Credit Sesame has recently added up to $50,000 in FREEEEE Identity Theft Insurance!

Getting your identity stolen is a HUGE headache, trust me.  I wish I had known about this sooner.  Of course, I thought, this would never happen to me…I was so wrong.

There is every reason to check out Credit Sesame…it’s FREE and you can monitor and protect your credit and identity all in one place WITHOUT giving your credit card!

Click here to Check it Out and Protect Yourself

12. Dosh

Dosh is a must-have cash back app, I absolutely LOVE it. It’s all “passive income” (my favorite kind of income) and all you need to do is link your credit/debit card and it will automatically give you cash back when you shop, eat, travel, and more at participating local and national merchants.

I forgot I had this app, and I was out to dinner with my husband for our anniversary and received this email after we paid below

Best Money Saving App out there

Downloading this app is a no-brainer. You get a nice little kickback for something you were paying for anyway and you get $5 for linking your first card.

You can even make $5 for everyone that signs up using your referral link, AND if you get a business to sign up you’ll get 20% of the business’ Dosh fees for TWO YEARS! (that could be a full-time passive income) Know anyone?

Available for IOS and Android

13. Automate Your Savings

Automate your savings with Rize so you never have to think about it. Just set a savings goal and a date, and Rize will do the rest. I do this because its FREE and it makes saving simple.

Don’t worry if your checking account dips below a certain limit, Rize will notify you and put your savings on hold so you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees.

Click here to sign up for Rize for free and get $5 for using my link.

14. Get FREE Oil Changes, Car Repairs & Food as a Secret Shopper

I recently had a GREAT experience as a secret shopper at a restaurant with my family where I had to rate the food, staff, and cleanliness of the restaurant.  They actually required that I order coffee, two entrees, and Pie! I’m like, okay :-).

I did the survey on my phone while I was there so I wouldn’t forget anything. I took a picture of my receipt and they reimbursed me! A full brunch for my family and I for FREE! They have way more opportunities for oil changes and car repairs which is AMAZING!

I’ll do this any day of the week. You can sign up here and see what opportunities are available in your area. I’d love it if you used my referral id as the person who recommended you, it’s IN35543.

15. Get Cash Back on Groceries

Download the Ibotta App and before you shop, add products you were going to buy anyway. Redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt. Ibotta will match the items you bought to the offers you selected and give you the cash!

Your cash back will be deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours.

Sign up here to get your $10 Welcome Bonus. I LOVE this app.

16. Use One Credit Card on EVERYTHING

We had over $500 in cash back rewards last year aka my Christmas shopping money. My husband and I put EVERYTHING on our Chase Freedom credit card and pay our bill off every month in FULL (NEVER pay interest, don’t just give your money away). This is FREE money.

The more you charge on your card the more cash back you’ll receive, that’s why I recommend having ONE credit card that you put everything on. If you decide to go with Chase like I do (they offer a great cash back plan), you’ll get $150 JUST by signing up if you click here. I’m currently at $654.15!

ways to save when money is tight

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this list valuable and can implement all or some of these today!

If you like content like this, please be sure to subscribe to Tried and True Mom Jobs email list for additional ways to make and save money.

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 Is there a way you save money that’s not listed? Tell us in the comment section.



Max is the founder of Tried and True Mom Jobs, a blog about legitimate ways to work from home, save and invest. She only writes about things that work. Hence the name “Tried and True”. She does the research, so you don't have to.

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  • Ashley | Momma Loves Coffee

    Love the list! I am with ya on all these suggestions, our family pretty much does the same and we are able to make it on one income in Southern California! Our culture today is just so used to so seeing so many “comforts/conveniences” as necessities. Less is more 🙂

  • macy

    I use a similar cashback online platform called SHOPBACK. Didn’t make me a millionaire but it’s good to see some of your hard spent money bring some cash back. haha. And yes you are right, cut back on bottled water and cook it yourself save quite a bit of money.

  • matthew

    I really love this list; very informative. I love the fact you mentioned “Try Second Hand” as this will assist in reducing some cost

    • admin

      Yes, we all need to freshen up our wardrobe from time to time but we don’t have to spend a fortune to do it.

  • Ridima

    I completely agree with your ideas. They are the simple ideas that can be incorporated with no extra effort. It’s just that we have to be rigid and take an initiative. Thanks for compiling them. Already on the first tip 🙂

  • Brooke

    I think the only one on here I do not do regulary is Ebates. I do not do enough online shopping to think about it when I do. The bottled water one kills me! It is so easy to refill a Nalgene and be on your way. Saves a ton of money and the environment.

  • Julie I Aloha Lovely

    Great tips! I started meal prepping at the start of the new year and it has saved me tons. I prepare everything on Sunday for lunch and dinner for the following week. It’s also been cutting some inches on the waist too!

  • Roby H.

    I joined and there’s a group called “Free or Mostly Free”. Where people just post events/stuff to do for less than $5 (most of it is free). That’s helped me save a ton of money on entertainment over the years. Check it out and see if they got a similar group near your town.

  • Sarah

    I have only recently started packing my own lunchbox and it is saving me a lot of money. I need to start bringing my own drink bottles as buying bottled water is my weakness.

    • admin

      Yes, packing your lunch will save you so much and YES try bringing in your own water it’s Free! I definitely understand the convenience of bottled water, it took me awhile to get out of that.

  • Nicole

    We cut cable years ago and it was the best decision. We didn’t miss it and we really didn’t miss them increasing the rates every 6 months unless we called and negotiated for hours each time. Such a bad business model!

    • Max

      I’m showing my husband this comment, I totally agree. I can’t wait to get rid of cable!

  • Sabrina

    Such a great list! We do all of these things except fly Southwest because we don’t fly often, and the credit card because we have found that we get into more trouble than it’s worth to use one. Thanks for sharing these tips–I’m going to share with friends, too!

    • Max

      Thank you! Yeah, the credit card one is a tricky one but worth it if you can be disciplined

  • Nettie Moore

    These are great tips! I am already using Ebates for everything love it! The cable one is huge! Nettie

  • Andy

    Nice list.

    We do all the uk equivalents to this and am now debt and mortgage free. Much happier times.

    • Max

      Thank you and that’s awesome. It is such a joy to be debt free and not owe anyone anything.

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