Real Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

by Alli

Are you looking for real ways to save money? Let’s jump right in! 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I check out a financial planning site on the web and get dizzy within the first few minutes. I mean, really, who writes that stuff? 

Why don’t they write in everyday language that the average person can understand? Why don’t they show us real ways to save money on a tight budget?

Real Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

I remember way back when my husband and I were finishing college and had four young kids. Even with full-time jobs, times were tough, and checking the sofa cushions for stray coins became a thing.

Do you ever wish you could have a do-over with the knowledge you have now? I don’t think I want to go back to my twenties (well, maybe a little), but I do wish I was smarter about saving money back then.

I’ll never forget the day I had a revelation that paying ridiculous prices for kids’ clothing is, well, ridiculous. I told myself it was OK because I passed the clothing down to my sister once my kids outgrew them.

Since then, I’ve had lots of revelations.

Real Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Learn the Difference Between Needs and Wants

Food is a need. Another pair of shoes (unless you don’t have any shoes) is a want.

Have you noticed that the closets in our homes are much bigger now than they were back in the 1970s? Why is that? We have more stuff.

Most of the things we buy are wants.

And we call them needs, but they are wants. ~Dave Ramsey

Storing Too Much Stuff Has Become A Billion-Dollar Business

Many people have garages but don’t have room for their cars. Why? Too much stuff!

When I was researching to find out how many people rented self-storage units, my mind went tilt when I realized that the revenue for the U.S. Self Storage Industry for 2019 was forecasted to be $35.5 billion. That’s a whole lot of stuff!

The secret of happiness, you see,

is not found in seeking more,

but in developing the

capacity to enjoy less. ~ Socrates

Don’t you think it’s time we learned the difference between needs and wants? I’m not saying we should never buy something we want.

There’s nothing wrong with working hard and being able to get what you want. But, when you can’t afford it and you buy it anyway, that’s a problem.

Don’t Be Fooled into Thinking You Saved Money Because it’s on Sale

I love a good sale, don’t you? Before I go shopping, I always pray that I’ll find the best deals. I really do!

But, let’s be completely honest here. Yes, I saved a few bucks. What if I had stayed home? What if I had never gone shopping in the first place? I’d really save then! Spending money is not saving money. Period.

Have you ever bought something on sale and later regretted buying it at all? I have! That thing I thought I had to have lost its appeal very quickly.

Don’t Make Impulsive Purchases

I’m a list maker. Usually.

Have you ever been to the grocery store and realized you forgot your list or didn’t make one at all? What do you do? You make impulsive purchases.

When I make impulsive buys, it’s usually not good for my wallet or my waistline. Make a list and stick to it.

Window Shopping - Real Ways to Save Money While on a Tight Budget

Never Make Large Purchases Without Sleeping On It

I consider large purchases to be high-end furniture, cars, Hermés bags, you get the drift. My dream is to own a Hermés bag. Unless someone buys it for me, it’s not happening.

My husband and I made an agreement a long time ago. When it comes to large purchases, we talk it over and we sleep on it. This rule has saved our butts many times.

Save Your Change

Save your change and designate where it will go.

glass jar full of coins with the word save on the front

My husband and I take a vacation – just the two of us – at least once a year. I consider it a need and a want.

Everyone needs a vacation. We always come home refreshed and ready to get back to work. 

Real Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

To pay for our vacations, we save money, including all of our change. If I make a purchase that amounts to $3.52 cents, I give the cashier $4.00 and the change goes toward vacation. It adds up quickly.

When vacation time rolls around, we don’t have to touch our checking account to pay for food and all the extras that go along with vacation.

Psst: Planning a vacation? Check out my top 10 packing tips.

Top 10 Packing Tips - Save Money

Make a Plan and Stick to It

You can plan until the cows come home (grandpa saying), but if you don’t stick to it, it won’t work.

If you’re single, ask yourself some tough questions. If you’re married, sit down with your spouse and talk about where you want to be (financially) in one year, five years, ten years. Then make it happen. If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting out

of debt. ~Dave Ramsey

If you’re on a really tight budget, get rid of things that are not necessities (Mani/Pedi, Cigarettes, Etc.).

Helpful Hint:  Grab a small notebook or use a notes app on your phone and keep up with every penny you spend for a month. It’s an eye-opener!

Little Ways to Save Money

Instead of getting your tax return refund back and splurging, try throwing at least half (or more) into your savings.

Skip the coffee shop and make coffee at home.

Pack a lunch most days of the week.

Enjoy date night in instead of going out.

5 Ways to Prepare for Date Night In including playing with your food!

Have friends over for dinner instead of meeting them at a restaurant.

Turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Get a library membership instead of buying books.

Stop subscriptions or club memberships you don’t use.

Cook at home instead of eating out. 

Cancel your gym membership and workout at home. 

Do you have a hot tip on how you save money?

Even More Real Ways To Save Money


Chloe January 4, 2017 - 6:45 am

I love saving loose change, once I nearly had $200! It is amazing what you can do when you start considering where your money is actually going.

Robin Masshole Mommy January 4, 2017 - 7:09 am

Sleeping on it is a good idea. Often times I decide I don’t really want something after a nights sleep.

NYC Single Mom January 4, 2017 - 8:08 am

I hear you with the Hermes bag want, I settled for the scarves and belt but that was before I adopted my daughter so I doubt that bag will ever happen. That’s okay priorities change and I am happy to wear my scarves in the winter months.

candy January 4, 2017 - 8:16 am

We have been putting our change everyday into these great big jars we have. We now have three of them completely filled and I am amazed at how fast we did this. Looking forward to taking them to the bank to see how much we have saved by doing this small act everyday.

Doria January 4, 2017 - 11:32 am

I love this because they’re real ways you can actually save money NOW! Sometimes I read other sites and they talk about a bunch of things that don’t apply to me, but these make sense (haha cents!).

Franc Ramon January 4, 2017 - 11:42 am

It’s really important to focus on needs and not wants. Every little to do to save can make a difference.

Vera Sweeney January 4, 2017 - 11:49 am

I love these tips!!! With three kids we are always looking for ways to save as much as possible whenever we can.

lisa January 4, 2017 - 12:05 pm

These are great tips. I always tell myself and my kids that we don’t “need” things, usually we just “want” them and there is a difference!

Jacqui @FlightsFancyMom January 4, 2017 - 2:38 pm

These are great tips. I actually sat down one day and calculated how much I spend weekly on drinks at work, meals out, etc. The number actually sickened me lol. I am now taking that money and putting it away each paycheck. It averages $150 a paycheck. So, I’m now saving $300 a month, or $3600 a year 🙂

Jenn @ EngineerMommy January 4, 2017 - 6:45 pm

These are great tips on how to save money. We use coupons occasionally and we do look for sales and promotional offers all the time.

Pam January 4, 2017 - 8:01 pm

These are great tips for saving money. A good date night in can be a money saver and a lot of fun too.

Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai January 4, 2017 - 8:29 pm

I save change too, especially quarters, and it does add up quickly. And in the purchases department, Don’t buy things that are on sale unless you were gooing to buy it anyway–that way you save the entire amount of money. 🙂 Also, before you buy that 2-pack of something (deodorant, toothpaste, etc) check that price — you would be surprised how many 2-packs are more expensive than purchasing two single items. Just my two cents… Great post, Alli, Happy New Year!

Life With Lorelai

Stephanie Jeannot January 4, 2017 - 10:37 pm

I love the saving change idea. That is really clever. I think it is cool after you see how much of it piles up. Kind of cool. Yeah, impulsive buying is not such a good thing. Sometimes it is just the seeing that makes you want to take it home with you.

Emily January 5, 2017 - 1:04 am

These are amazing tips to have! I admit I am one to do some impulsive shopping, never outrageous with amounts but it can add up. My husband and I are comfortable financially but we want to be putting away more for the future as well.

Shirley Wood January 5, 2017 - 8:35 am

It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we all have isn’t it! As we begin the process of cleaning out and getting rid of, I’m amazed at how much stuff we own! Why? So much of it we don’t even use. That’s money we could have kept. My new motto is “Less is more”
We’re expanding our savings this year by cutting back on the amount of money we budget for gift giving and being more creative with our grocery budget. I’ve been slack on managing savings with coupons and sales at the grocery store so I’m going to work on that.

Angelic Sinova January 5, 2017 - 1:56 pm

Learning the Difference Between Needs and Wants is definitely a huge lesson I learned when I started saving more. Sure, I’d love new clothes but do I need them?

Jasmine Eclipse January 5, 2017 - 9:31 pm

I just moved to a new country and into a home with my boyfriend, and we’re trying to save money so I can go back home to visit my family for the first time in 2 years. It’s so hard to save when there is so much to pay for. We aren’t big spenders, and we hardly ever buy anything other than groceries, bills, rent, yet saving still seems like such an unattainable goal. But we’re trying. Thanks for your tips!

ricci January 6, 2017 - 2:39 pm

I seriously love this post. I buy things on sale all the time and say I saved money, when actually I didn’t Ugh…LOL!

Karen Lyons January 7, 2017 - 2:10 am

Use a manufacture coupon + a target coupon + the target cartwheel app for great savings!

Agnes January 7, 2017 - 8:26 am

These are great tips, Saving is an absolute must. Never know when the rainy day will come

Laurie January 15, 2017 - 12:14 pm

I try my best to cut corners and save where I can. I think it is important to track all of your purchases and analyze it every couple of months. This will help you realize any bad spending habits that you have or find areas that you can try and cut back. I use coupons and apps to save money as well as shopping clearance, at thrift stores and other resale shops. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

Selene March 13, 2017 - 12:03 pm

Awesome post! Definitely some great tips and advice on saving money. It’s also great to start a savings account for emergencies or long term goals!

mustafizur rahman April 21, 2017 - 4:45 pm

this is one of the great post about how to save money. I agree to your great tips are skip the cofee shop and make coffe at home. we are very struggling in saving our moneyso this article was very effective and helpful to us. thanks for sharing lot of way and free tips to saving our money easily.

Lissa Clay January 31, 2018 - 4:38 am

Great post, You have to involve your family members in your money saving efforts so you get the benefits for the rest of your life. Thanks for sharing this useful money saving guild with us.


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