To some, the word “budget” is like swearing but saving money on purchases is a good thing that can bring long-term wealth. Watching your budget when you live on a fixed income is important to stay out of debt. By making small changes to how you shop and where you shop, you can find ways to save money on a tight budget.
Shop around before you buy
By comparing sale flyers or doing comparison shopping trips, you can find the best prices on items you use. One store may have a better price on spices, while another might have cheaper prices on meat. Check with stores, friends, and neighbors to see what they have discovered about the prices at local stores.
Give yourself short-term and long-term goals
Give yourself mini-goals that will lead you on the path to saving more money in the long run. For example, only shop with a sales flier. Only eat out once a week. Or, use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas when driving. When you reach those goals, make new ones. Your long-term goal could be to save up enough money to afford the down payment on a new to you RV or to have an emergency fund of $5,000. There are so many apps these days that can help you save money and budget!
Shoot for 10% savings each month
Each month pay yourself first when you get a paycheck or direct deposit. Shoot for taking 10% of the amount and putting it in a savings account. Most of the time this can be done online, and you never have to set foot in a bank.
Make it automatic
Another thing you can do is make the 10% deposit automatic. You can set it up so every deposit comes in has 10% of that amount put directly into your savings account. It might have to be done through the employer if you get a check from a business. If you don’t like the percentage coming off the top of your check, you can put $15 or $20 per pay period into the savings account on the same say each week or once a month. It will add up over time. A great way to save money on a tight budget!
Make small changes to your budget across several expenses
Call and negotiate new rates (cell phone/internet)
There are always deals for new customers, why not try to get the company to give you the same or a modified deal. Do this for your cell phone and internet. You can always threaten to leave, they usually will do something to keep your business.
Cancel unused services
If you’ve signed up for cable, but find that you’re watching more Netflix and YouTube, then cancel cable. That’s a substantial saving. Go through the rest of your expenses and slash what you can.
Stay at parks where electricity is included in the rates
Many RV parks include electricity with overnight stays. When you rent by the month, campgrounds might start to meter your electricity. Find parks where this doesn’t happen and you can save that money.
Buy in bulk
We all need to buy groceries, why not buy in bulk, if you have the storage to hold 24 rolls of toilet paper or popcorn bags the size of a full backpack. Maybe share the cost of the bulk items with a family your traveling with or a neighbor at the campground.
Go meatless for a day or two
Meat can be very expensive, so one or two days a week, go meatless. Find a casserole or dish where the main ingredient is vegetables or a meat substitute. Suggestions are using eggplant or spinach to boost up an Italian meal or search meatless dinners on your favorite recipe app.
Price match and use coupons
Coupons seem so 2010, but you can still save real money using them. You can also play grocery stores against one another with price comparisons and then asking the store you’re at to match the deal in the flyer. They can choose to lose the sale or sell you the item at a discounted rate. Another great way to save money on a tight budget.
Activities and Entertainment
City or County activities
Look for local ideas. Town park and recreation departments offer fun, family activities at low or no cost. From scavenger hunts to parents’ nights out, you can entertain the whole family. Check for festivals and parades seasonally.
Free or Low-Cost Events
Sign-up with Groupon and sign up to receive email notifications. You can find events, activities, and more. The email will remind you almost daily to check for deals in the area you are in.
Streaming Movie Services
Why pay for cable if you can get all the channels and more with streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, to name a few? You can watch your favorite TV shows, movies, and special shows produced by the company for less than it costs for cable TV.
Car and Transportation
Shop around for insurance
At least once a year, you should call around to get insurance quotes for your RV, car, and sticks and bricks home, if you have one. Rates can vary and you want to get the best deal with the best customer service. Get recommendations from friends who love their insurance companies.
Move spots less
You can save money on gas, wear, and tear, and camping spots if you move less. You get a break on camping prices usually if you stay longer. The other two speak for themselves. If you aren’t driving, you aren’t spending money on gas, and your tires are not wearing from hitting the road.
Bike or walk locally
Don’t use your gas, increase your steps or exercise level by walking or riding your bike to get around the campground. You can also travel to town if it’s close and safe enough to do.
Locate more affordable fuel
Find cheap gas. Everyone local knows there’s that one place in town where you can get the best price on gas. Ask around or better yet, use the GasBuddy app to find the best price nearby. You can also find programs for individual gas chains like Irving in the Northeast, where they offer deals on gas. Many people rave about the TSD fuel card for diesel fill-ups, which gives you up to 50 cents off per gallon. When you have a big tank, that can add it.
It’s not just for seniors anymore. Happy hour specials take place at restaurants and bars. Half off appetizers, which you can make into a meal or discounted meals before 5 p.m. You’ll be happy when you spend less for dinner.
Skip the drinks
Sometimes you go out for the drinks, but if you’re at a restaurant for the food, get water to drink. You won’t even miss the expensive soda or cocktail.
Using Groupon or local coupon books that can be found locally at the chamber of commerce and other populated areas, you can save money or get a deal on part of your meal when you eat out. Check before you commit to dinner somewhere, do they have a coupon or an online deal?
Shop for your clothing off-season. After summer is over, the summer merchandise goes on sale, just like after Christmas, when the wrapping paper, bows, and decorations can be discounted up to 90 percent. It’s the same with clothing. It’s hard to sell bathing suits to northerners in December.
Shop outlet malls for deals on current trends from popular retailers. Outlet malls usually have coupon books for percentages off your purchase at each store in the mall.
Places like Goodwill and Salvation Army are great places to score deals on clothing. Not everything is in mint condition, but you can find great bargains and deals on items others didn’t want anymore. Local thrift stores can be just as much of a goldmine. Go early, go often for the best deals.
Poshmark / eBay / thredUP
Using sites like thredUP, Poshmark, and eBay can help you sort through the mass number of listings with filters and descriptive entries. You’ll probably pay a little more than Goodwill, but it could be worth it.
Saving money on a tight budget can be easy if you know where to cut and how to tweak your shopping habits. Think of it as a game and you could hit the jackpot when it comes to increased money in your savings account.