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.

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! You see 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.
  • Treat Yourself – Do treat yourself to something you enjoy.  I treat myself once a week, and it’s something I enjoy and look forward to.  Spend wisely, Trust me I do.
  • 2. Renegotiate your Contracts

    Do you have cable, internet, car insurance (hopefully you do), or landline phone?  If you have not attempted to negotiate a better rate in the past year, do it today or let this new awesome app I found Trim do it for you! It’s FREE and it acts as your personal finance assistant and does all the negotiating for you. Nice huh? You could easily save $100 using this tool.

    My husband and I were paying around $140 JUST for cable (don’t ask) and I was genuinely prepared to leave, but our cable provider offered to lower our bill to $80 a month for the EXACT same package so we stayed with them. Most companies would rather keep your business at a lower rate than lose you altogether, so call today.  

    DISCLAIMER: My friend tried to threaten her cable provider for a better rate and they said “ok bye” but she was like wait, hello? I have to check with my husband please don’t cancel my account.  Not everyone will put forth a fight, so be prepared and have a backup plan.

    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. I understand you may want to watch sports live or other things, but you can even stream most of those online as well. This is a huge lifestyle change, but you could save over $1,000 or more a year, it’s worth considering.

    This is also a personal decision, we have cable but at a decent price and I also have a husband who isn’t willing to give this up YET…I’m working on him. 


    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 button 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. 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

  • 12. 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.

13. Get Cash Back on Groceries

Download the Ibotta App and before you shop, add offers on great products by completing simple tasks on the app. Buy the products you selected at any participating store. Don’t forget your receipt!

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.

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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How I retired at 31 with a million dollar portfolio

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

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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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