10 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

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How to save money when you’re broke? Is it even possible to wring another cent out of an extremely tight budget?

Finding ways to save money on a tight budget can feel insurmountable but it’s possible to do, and to come out the other side of this challenging time with some super-useful frugal life skills.

Unfortunately, tough times happen. Maybe you lost your job, or have an unexpected bill pop up.

How you choose to respond to tough situations is the difference between losing everything or becoming a thriving money-saving machine.

I truly believe the right attitude has the power to completely change the outcome of any experience.

Choosing to see the positive in your tough situation and then utilising that to your benefit will see you come out on top.

Here are 10 ways to save money when times are tough:

Here are a few of the things I’ve been able to do with more time, in order to save money:

1. Activate your survival budget

You’re not stressed about money because you have your survival budget waiting in the wings, right?

If not, time to get started on that. I always keep my survival budget visible – that way it’s not such a shock to the system when I enter financial survival mode.

Related: Why I Have Two Budgets and You Should Too

2. Seek out extra funds:

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If you’ve been putting off submitting your tax return, now’s the time to get that done. I’m always pushing the deadline as owning rental properties makes tax time a paperwork nightmare.

This year I got our tax documents to the accountant a whole month earlier than usual because tax refund = cash I need now!

Check out this post for more ways to make money online.

3. Meal plan and shop accordingly

Cooking your own meals instead of buying takeaway saves a huge amount of money. Naturally.

When you have extra time you can also do a pantry and freezer audit, and schlep around all the different supermarkets to get the most out of your grocery budget.

4. Try out new recipes

So you have 1 sausage, a can of lentils and half a cabbage in your fridge. Don’t freak out! Just hit up Supercook  to see what interesting creation you can come up with.

How to save when you have no money - seems impossible, right? Well it isn't. You just need to think outside the box. Check out this smart money saving tips article and give your budget some breathing room.

5. Compare costs

There is so much competition for your dollar these days. It makes sense to shop around for major purchases. But who has the time, right?

Well, now, you do! Allocating some time each day to scope out your top sites means you can save big if you have to make major purchases.

Please note I don’t recommend making major purchases when times are tough, but washing machines tend to break down at the worst possible times.

I needed a new laptop – for work – and was able to watch a few websites over a number of days to compare costs. I finally pounced when the lowest priced retailer had a one-day-only 15% off sale. That saved me over $120.

6. Actively declutter:

When you are home all day, it’s easy to allocate ten minutes each day towards decluttering.

You might choose one drawer or shelf and be ruthless in your actions.

I am aiming for a weekly donation of old books and clothes to my local charity shop.

Every time I remove a bag of stuff from my house I feel a slight weight lift from my shoulders. It’s truly liberating.

7. Plant and cultivate a productive garden

Gardening takes a lot of time but done right it can be a big money saver.

Plus nothing tastes as good as veggies from your own garden.

Anyone can start a simple garden – and it’s perfectly OK to start with seedlings so you don’t lose motivation. There are some great tips for beginning gardeners here.

8. Take advantage of off-peak offers:

Keeping healthy is very important during times of financial stress.

Now might be a good time to try out a new form of exercise. It’s also the perfect time to take advantage of off-peak trial offers for health clubs and gyms.

My husband got a free one-month gym trial pass that can only be used during business hours.

9. Make every dollar you have to spend, count

You still need to eat and keep warm, so although I don’t advocate any unnecessary spending during a tough time, you want to make the money you have to spend, work double time.

The best way to do this is by checking cash back apps and websites like Ebates/Rakuten or Ibotta before you make a purchase.

Ebates (now Rakuten) is great for the larger stores like Macy’s and Amazon, whereas Ibotta can be used to get rebates off of everyday groceries.

TIP: Check Ibotta and Ebates before you make your shopping list, so you can make intentional purchases with savings in mind. Click Here to Join Ebates and Get $10 Free With Your First Qualifying Purchase of $25

10. Sell unused items:

When you’re working full-time and bringing in a solid income, it’s easier to just donate items to charity rather than sell them.

But if you’ve got time on your side you can make a bit of money.

Photographing and writing enticing descriptions for items to sell online does take time but the funds can provide a useful boost to a tight budget, whilst also getting rid of unused junk in your home. Win-win!

A tough time needn’t spell the end of your dreams of financial freedom.

But it’s important to focus on the here and now when money is tight. Try to think of this period as a chance to hone your frugal life skills.

That way, when your finances start to turn around and there is more money coming in these frugal habits should be well established.

Just like buying produce in season is always a smart move, doing what you can to improve your financial situation, will net you a more positive financial future.

Whether you are hustling to increase your income or cutting costs like a champ, the important thing is to always be moving towards your goal.

About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.