Saving money each month means more money in your pocket.
Who doesn’t want that?!
My husband and I are naturals when it comes to saving money. No matter what our income looks like, we will always want to save money where we can.
There’s no point in spending extra money if you don’t need to, right?
Below I’ve compiled a huge list of all the ways we currently save money on a tight budget. Frugal living doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you implement these money saving ideas into your lifestyle, you can start paying down debt if you have it, saving money, and even create an emergency fund for future rainy days.
This page contains affiliate links, but I would never recommend something I don’t love and use myself. If you want more information, please visit my disclosure page.
1. Make a Budget/Savings Plan
Prioritize what in your life is a must and what is a want.
Cut out as many of the “wants” as possible and prioritize the “musts” from greatest to least importance. For example, in our budget, tithe is a must, followed by bills (housing, insurance, utilities, medical/healthcare, cell phone, etc).
So we budget out the amount needed for tithe and all of our bills, then work our way down the list to groceries, gas for our vehicles, and other spending. If you’re not sure what your spending entails, check your bank account and write down all expenses from the last 3-6 months. This will give you a good idea of what you’re spending money on.
After we budget for bills and tithe, we delegate the rest for investing, saving, and “fun money”. If you have room for it in your budget, I think “fun money” is important to have. This will help you stick to your budget in the long run if you can enjoy spending a small portion of the money you worked hard to earn. Think money for a date night or for a fun purchase that is useful but not imperative. But remember, bills, necessities, and savings must be budgeted for FIRST before budgeting the “fun money”.
2. Live Below Your Means
We have money in savings, but we act as if it doesn’t exist. Our goal is to be money savers, not money spenders, by never pulling from that money and always adding to it. That means we live frugally, because we don’t have big paychecks to begin with.
Even if you have money for a new fancy car, buy a reliable used car instead. Just because you earned a bonus at work doesn’t mean you need to spend it right away on new clothes, electronics, an expensive dinner date, etc.
Act as if every single penny counts, and you will notice your desire to live frugally becomes much greater.
Living below your means is essential if you want to save money.
If you have become accustomed to a way of life that is greater than your income, you must “downgrade” to a life within your means. It will be painful at first, but it will pay off in the long run when you’re no longer stressed out by debt or a car payment you can’t afford.
3. Be Picky Where You Grocery Shop
Just because we live frugally does not mean we have to sacrifice our healthy eating habits. I know that putting good and wholesome foods into my body will make me feel better and will keep my health in check down the road. It is possible to eat healthy on a budget, I promise.
I know there are different grocery stores in different areas so what works for you may not work for me and vise versa. But in my area, we have grocery outlet and it has saved me SO. MUCH. MONEY. over the past year.
Find a grocery store in your area, such as ALDI or Grocery Outlet, that will contribute to your frugal living lifestyle by helping you save money.
DO NOT shop at Whole Paycheck, ahem, I mean Whole Foods, if you need to save money. No judgement, just a little tough love.
4. Use Money Back Resources When Shopping
As mentioned above, it’s important to be picky where you grocery shop to save money. But it’s also important to utilize money saving resources to get the best bang for your buck. My two top resources I use on a regular basis are Rakuten (for online shopping) and Ibotta (for in-store grocery shopping).
Ibotta is an awesome app you’ll use on your smart phone to earn cash back on your groceries. It includes all my favorites stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, Fred Meyer, DollarTree, and more.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Download the Ibotta app
Step 2: Add offers for items on your grocery list in the Ibotta app, then go grocery shopping at your local store (make sure the store is supported by the Ibotta app first)
Step 3: Redeem eligible offers by taking a picture of your receipt after your shopping trip (see submission options below)
Step 4: Get cash back!
I’ve earned $900+ dollars cash back from Ibotta in the past 3 years. That’s free money just for using a simple, free app. Every cent adds up! Sign up using my link here (it’s always free!) to get a $10 welcome bonus once you upload your first receipt.
I’ve been using Rakuten for 4 years and have earned over $1,000 cash back from my online shopping simply by using the Rakuten browser extension (which is completely free).
Here’s how Rakuten works:
Rakuten gets a commission from stores when you make a purchase, and instead of keeping it, Rakuten shares the commission with you.
There are two easy ways you can use Rakuten to save money.
- You can either find the store on rakuten.com, click “Shop Now”, shop like normal on the store site, and earn cash back once you’ve made your purchase OR…
- (The easier way in my opinion) You can use the Rakuten cash back button which will apply cash back automatically for eligible stores when shopping online AND applies discounts and coupons automatically at checkout.
Once you’ve earned cash back, you’ll receive a check or PayPal payment every quarter for all the cash back you earned during that quarter.
You can use my link here to sign up as a new member and earn $30 cash back when you make your first qualifying purchase of at least $30 within the first 90 days of signing up. So essentially, you can make a $30 purchase and spend “nothing” because you’ll receive the $30 back. Pretty awesome!
And don’t forget to download the free browser extension (click here) to receive cash back and discounts/coupons effortlessly every time you shop at a qualifying online retailer.
5. Use Amazon
I can’t even begin to tell you how much money we save each month using Amazon.
Every time I go to the store to buy something that’s not a regular grocery purchase, I write down the price and don’t buy it until I check Amazon.
Almost every time it’s cheaper on Amazon. Plus, we pay for Amazon prime once a year and because we get free shipping and use Amazon so often, it definitely helps us save money in the long run. Things like running shoes, dumbbells, my kettlebell, makeup, vitamins, probiotics, unlocked cell phones, the list goes on.
Amazon is our superhero sidekick to save money and lower expenses.
And make sure to check out Amazon Outlet – Clearance, Markdowns and Overstock Deals for the best deals possible.
6. No Gym Membership or a Cheap Gym Membership
For years I never paid for a gym membership because I always did my own workouts or did YouTube workouts which always worked great for me. When I married Luke, that changed because we didn’t have a big set of weights he could use to workout and he wasn’t all about the running or plyometric workout life like I am 😉
So we did our research and found the cheapest gym membership we could find. We are currently members at a gym that charges us $10/month and has all the equipment we could ever want (and more). Free personal training, free massages, and free workout classes are just some of the perks.
If you must pay for a gym membership, go budget. Do your research. And if you find that you aren’t going often enough to get your money’s worth, cancel immediately.
7. Live in a Home Below Your Means
In our culture, it can feel like we always have to prove our worth with our homes, cars, and belongings.
Can I be honest with you?
If you fall trap to that mindset, say goodbye to any type of savings you might hope for. You have to start living below your means in all aspects, not just your home.
For Luke and I, our current home is an apartment. And we are paying extremely low rent because we have 570 square feet to share, no dishwasher, no laundry in the apartment, and no special amenities like a balcony, pool, or a/c in the bedroom. We could afford a more expensive apartment, but instead we are choosing to save money each month by living in an apartment below our means.
With the money we are saving and the lower expenses on rent, we can slowly work our way to owning our own house one day. (Update: We bought our first home in 2021 in a desirable, safe neighborhood and were able to put over 20% down on the home. I don’t share this to brag, but rather to show you saving money is WORTH IT!) Having a goal in mind can help motivate you to save money and manage money well.
Check out my post here to see how much house you can actually afford.
8. Don’t Pay For Cable
We have the T.V. my husband has owned since high school and we share a Netflix account with his family. That’s all we have for TV and it works great for us.
By avoiding a cable bill and other tv subscriptions, we have been able to save money each month and lower our overall expenses.
9. Meal Plan Each Week
I’ve been meal planning since the first week we got home from our honeymoon. It has helped us live frugally by saving so much time, money, and effort.
Every weekend, I pick a time to sit down and spend 30 minutes planning out my meals for each evening in the upcoming week. Then I write out my grocery list with everything I need for the meals, and whatever else we need that week. That way, when I get to the grocery store, I know exactly what I need so I’m not tempted to buy everything that “looks good”. I also have all the dinner meals planned out for the week so we aren’t tempted to eat out for dinner or order a pizza. Occasionally, we do eat out, but only if the “fun money” in our budget allows for it. And most of the time, it does! But it’s all accounted for in our budget.
Not Interested In Meal Planning On Your Own Time?
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Each week you’ll receive a weekly meal plan (shopping list included!) for just $5 per month.
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10. Avoid Using a Car and/or Paying for Parking When Possible
Because we live 1 mile from the city, everywhere you go you have to pay for parking and it really adds up. Luke and I choose to lower expenses by buying bikes last year so we can bike places and lock our bikes up instead of having to drive and pay for parking. It’s a fun activity we can do together, we get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and it saves us money. Win-win-win!
11. Treat Eating Out Like A Luxury
Luke and I aim to eat out together once a month. It’s a special date for us, and it’s something we look forward to because we don’t do it often. Eating out costs so much more than cooking a meal at home, so to us, it’s a luxury that we get to occasionally enjoy together.
By planning out our meals and eating in each night, we have been able to save money big time.
We always find great deals on restaurants with Groupon so our meals are always heavily discounted which results in greater savings for us by the end of the month.
12. Use Airbnb Instead of Staying in Hotels
When Luke and I travel, we always opt to lower expenses and save money by staying in Airbnb’s instead of a hotel and it saves us literally hundreds.
For our honeymoon, we stayed 7 nights in a beautiful condo in Cancun, Mexico, right on the beach, with a full kitchen and water view, for $567 total, all fees included.
I’ve stayed in an Airbnb dozens of times since then in Las Vegas, Nevada, Scottsdale, Arizona, Leavenworth, Washington, Seaside, Oregon, Farallon, Panama, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and more, and have had good experiences with every single one of them.
The great thing about Airbnb is you can search for exactly what you want in the price range you want it. So you can go ultra budget, or semi-budget, while still paying much less than a hotel.
13. Only Buy Secondhand Clothing or Shop Major Sales
I’m a HUGE fan of Goodwill, Value Village, Poshmark (use my code “RLLIGHTS” when you sign up for the free app and earn $10, my treat!, ThredUp; basically any secondhand clothing store is my jam.
I very rarely purchase clothing that isn’t on sale or secondhand.
14. Babysit or Nanny with Care.com For A Part Time Income
I first joined Care.com in August 2013 and within 1 week I got my first full time summer nanny job for 2 kids at a home 1 mile from where I lived.
The pay was much higher than minimum wage and all I had to do was play with kids and an adorable Bernese Mountain dog all day.
I continued to use Care.com each summer since and have now nannied for 6 families with children ranging from 6 months old to 11 years old. It has been the best experience; I truly can’t recommend nannying or babysitting enough if you love kids and want to make easy money.
Care.com is fantastic for connecting you with hundreds of families who are in search of a full-time nanny, part-time nanny, or an occasional babysitter. You can even be a educational tutor or a dog walker through Care.com.
15. Use Groupon
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used Groupon to save money each month, I’d be rich.
Oh wait, I already am because of how much I’ve saved using Groupon.
Okay bad joke.
But seriously! If you haven’t tried Groupon yet, now is the time. Groupon has lowered expenses in multiple ways for us. I use Groupon for everything from oil changes (paid $20 for an originally $60 dollar oil change at Jiffy Lube), tickets to concerts for half price, restaurants on date night (up to 55% off various restaurants in your area), half price tickets to a water park when I was on vacation in Las Vegas, discounted beats headphones, discounted spray tan for my wedding, discounted mani pedi package for my wedding; we could seriously be here all day.
Check out Groupon and you will start saving big time on things you need to purchase but would rather not pay full price.
Use my link here to save $10 on your next purchase with Groupon!
16. Use Shopkick
Shopkick takes a little extra effort but can earn big rewards for just whipping out your phone and scanning a few items on your next shopping trip. I’ve been using Shopkick for 3 years now and don’t see any reason to stop now. I’ve earned numerous free movie tickets (because I think movie tickets are a total waste of money so why not earn them for free 🙂 ), but you can set your points to earn you what you want. You can choose from items such as Starbucks, AMC, T.J. MAXX,and Nordstrom gift cards, perfume, electronics, sports equipment, and much more just for earning kicks.
When I earn 2,500 kicks, I receive a $10.00 AMC gift card which covers the price of my movie ticket. I’ve never changed my reward because I love movies but hate splurging on them. I find that using Shopkick has been a great way to reward myself for living frugally with a movie ticket once in awhile.
To use Shopkick and start earning kicks now, download the app here.
17. Never Buy the Newest Smart Phone Available
I have forever been a member of the 2 generations old iPhone club.
Right now I’m sporting the iPhone 5s and have been for 3 years now. It’s still working just fine so I haven’t needed to replace it yet.
This all has to do with sticking to a tight budget. If what you have isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it!
In other words, there is no need to upgrade EVERY time a new pretty shiny phone comes out. Luke and I never buy the newest phones or electronics, and since we’ve never felt that need or urgency to do so, it saves money each money from not indulging in impulse buys.
18. A Credit Card is Not Your Enemy
*AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE MEANS TO PAY IT OFF*
Credit Cards are great for earning cash back and building up your credit, but pleeeease don’t make the mistake of getting a credit card if you’re tempted to buy more than you can afford and don’t budget out your expenses.
Luke and I have a credit card that gives us back 1% on every single purchase we make, and each month 5% cash back rewards rotate from different items. For example, this month we get 5% cash back on restaurants. We use our credit card for EVERYTHING: car insurance, rent, utilities, health insurance, groceries, the list goes on.
We do this because we are getting money back each time we use the credit card, and we know we have the means to pay it off each month. By the end of the year, we will have hundreds in cash back all because we used the card.
19. Invest Your Money
My dad is extremely smart with finances, so any time I have a question about something finance related, he’s the man I go to. He advised Luke and I this year to start a Roth IRA for retirement, how to budget properly, and how to lower expenses where needed.
It’s NEVER too early to start saving for the future. Check out my post here all about investing for beginners!
Quarterly, Luke and I add $500 to our Roth IRA, and $500 to our house savings fund.
We have also invested money in stocks, which have been multiplying in value over time.
If I could choose to have money sitting in the bank collecting dust, or invest the money so it can gain value over time, I’m going to choose the latter.
20. Cut Corners on Bills
It can be difficult to cut corners on bills, but it’s possible and a key frugal living shortcut. The two ways we have done this recently that come to mind are with utilities and car insurance.
For utilities, our bill should be through the roof because it’s hotter than hades where we live in the summer time and we could be cranking the a/c like mad men.
But we don’t.
We have one a/c unit in the window of our living room that we keep on energy saving mode. We then use fans to funnel the air from the living room, down the hall, to the bedroom. Sounds crazy, I know. But it helps us save money on our utility bill and it’s worked just fine through the hottest parts of the summer (I’m talking 100+ degree temps.)
With the car insurance, we keep our information updated and stay in contact with our insurance company for a reason. Just this last month, we were able to lower our car insurance for something we had qualified for. I had previously received an email saying check your policy to make sure you don’t quality for a lower premium.
I could’ve brushed the email off, but I took the time to check and it saved us money. It was so simple and definitely worth it.
21. Accept That This is Where You Are
Once you get to the point of acceptance, you will no longer find yourself constantly stressing over money.
If you’re always trying to live above your means, you will slowly drown into the despair of debt. However, if you accept that you are in a place where budgeting is a necessity, you will become more content with what you’re able to afford and won’t have to struggle to stay out of debt.
Once you become content with where you are financially, you can start enjoying life.
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Saving Money Resources I Use Often:
Fetch Rewards: Scan any receipt (groceries, gas, restaurants, and more) to earn points towards cash back in the form of gift cards. I always cash out for Amazon. I use Fetch rewards in addition to Ibotta because Ibotta usually gives me more money back but takes longer to use. With Fetch, all I have to do is take a picture of the receipt and i instantly get points. EARN 2,000 POINTS FREE WHEN YOU SIGN UP USING MY CODE – 6VQ1A
Ibotta: With Ibotta, earn cash back on items you’ve purchased at the store by adding them in the app and taking a picture of the receipt to redeem your money back. I like to check the app before going shopping to see what high-paying cash back items are available. GET $10 ON ME IF YOU JOIN USING MY CODE – icnaysv
HONEY: I use honey to get cash back when I’m online shopping and to inform me of price changes on online items. I downloaded the honey browser extension to my computer so when I’m online shopping, I will automatically receive cash back for qualifying items. No research or logging into the Honey website is required. It saves me tons of money with zero effort. Honey also tells me if an item is a good deal or not. It will show me the item’s price over the past several months so I can see if it’s a good time to buy or if the item’s price is jacked up. GET 500 Points FREE ($5 value) WHEN YOU SIGN UP FOR HONEY USING MY LINK – joinhoney.com/ref/h1pnwbp
RAKUTEN: I also use Rakuten in addition to Honey because they also offer cash back for many stores. I use both because Honey shows me price changes while Rakuten does not, but Rakuten offers cash back on 3,000+ stores so if Honey isn’t offering cash back on a store, there’s a good chance Rakuten is. Rakuten also offers a free browser extension so you can automatically earn cash back without having to do anything. Just make sure the browser extension is downloaded to your favorite online browser and start earning cash back when you shop online. EARN $30 FREE WHEN YOU SPEND YOUR FIRST $30 AT AN ONLINE STORE THAT RAKUTEN IS OFFERING CASHBACK FOR – USE MY LINK TO SIGN UP AND EARN $ – https://www.rakuten.com/r/MEREDI6080?eeid=28187
Poshmark: Buy new and used clothing for discounted prices and sell your own new or gently used items from your closet and earn money quickly. Poshmark also allows you to buy/sell home decor, shoes, baby toys, makeup/beauty products, and more. GET $10 FREE WHEN YOU SIGN UP WITH POSHMARK USING My CODE “MEREDITHANNE26”
MERCARI: Mercari is another buy/sell app I use to buy and sell new or gently used clothing, shoes, and items. I love that I can use both Mercari and Poshmark to buy secondhand items because it raises my odds of finding what I want to purchase. GET $10 OFF YOUR FIRST PURCHASE AND EARN AN EXTRA $20 IF YOU SELL $100 WORTH OF ITEMS ON MERCARI. SIGN UP USING MY LINK TO EARN THESE BONUSES – https://merc.li/T8EzH2b