When you're already on a tight budget, it's not easy to find additional ways to save money. But it's always important to set aside at least a little for the future, no matter how much income you're currently bringing in. Here are six ways you can save money even when you're working hard to live on a budget.
Change Your Television Service
One of the easiest ways to find money to put in your savings account is to cancel your cable or satellite TV service and switch to a cheaper alternative. Many of the largest pay-TV providers raised rates for 2020. And it's now pretty simple to get a wide variety of entertainment options from a streaming service that charges as little as $30 a month—though $50 or so is more likely.
Netflix, probably the most well-known cable alternative, can be accessed directly on your TV—for $8.99 to $15.99 a month—so long as it has or can download the Netflix app. You can also watch Netflix through a video game console or Blu-Ray player.
Look at Your Food Bill
Another way to save money is to change the way you eat. Probably the best thing you can do is to stop or greatly cut back on eating out. It's so much cheaper to eat leftovers from last night's dinner than to go out for lunch. And the cost of dining out tends to rise faster than the cost of groceries. In the 12 months ended in July 2019, prices for food purchased to eat at home rose 0.6% while the cost of eating out increased 1.8%.
You could also consider giving up or cutting back on meat. Though produce can be expensive too, especially if you purchase fresh and organic options, meat typically costs more pound for pound for everyday items. And you can also save money by buying frozen or canned fruits, beans, and vegetables.
Cut Every Category Just a Little Bit
When you're pinching pennies, you may have already cut all the unnecessary items from your budget. A next step might be saving $5 to $10 per category in your budget and setting that money aside.
You can often save another $5 per week at the grocery store by dropping two or three items off of your list. If you conserve fuel by consolidating trips, taking public transit, or walking when it's feasible, you can cut back on the amount you spend on gas each month by even more than $10. Similarly, you can adjust your thermostat so that you are paying less in heating and cooling costs.
Switch to Cash for Your Daily Expenses
While it may not be practical to pay your rent or utility bills in cash, switching to cash for other expenses can help you cut back on your spending. Using cash places a harder limit on your spending and helps you become more aware of your choices.
Groceries and entertainment are two prime categories for going cash-only. So are clothing and the rare outside-the-home meal.
Work on Paying Off Your Debt
High-interest debt, like credit cards, can eat up your monthly income. You may be surprised at just how much you are paying in interest each month if you are carrying a balance on your credit cards. The average annual percentage rate on credit card accounts that were assessed interest in November 2019 was 16.88%.
Taking steps to pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible will free up additional money in your budget and make it possible for you to do more things with your money. If you want to be more comfortable and save, getting rid of your debt is an important step.
Find a Way To Cut Back on Big Expenses
Take a look at the big items in your overall budget. Is your car payment too much? Can you find a cheaper place to live that is still nice? Could you move in with roommates to save on rent?
These options may be the last steps you take as you look for ways to increase your savings, but they really can help you save a good amount of money on your bills each month. The lower you keep these costs, the easier it will be to stick to your budget.