When you are on a tight budget, you need to stretch your money as far as it will go. Here are some proven strategies and cash-saving tips that dedicated budgeters use to make their money last to the end of the month and beyond. Take these imaginative ideas to heart and you will find that even a limited budget can go a very long way.
Make Your Money Last Longer
So when you shake your piggy bank, there’s nothing in there to rattle, huh? I know what it feels like...I‘ve been there. But don’t despair. Even when cash is very tight, you can still lead a wonderful life. You just need to be a bit creative about how you use your money.
I have some friends who are truly awesome at this. They really squeeze every bit of juice from every cent they spend - and they find creative ways to keep that spending to a minimum. As a result, they are able to lead wonderful lives without splurging.
After all, quality of life is not about buying expensive products. It’s all about having a life that is fulfilling and rewarding. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve that. So check out these 25 terrific tips from my extreme saver buddies, and see how you can make your money go so much further.
1. Turn Down the Thermostat
We’ll start with this one, because it’s quick and easy...you can do it right away! Turning down your heating in winter by a few degrees cuts your heating bills by a significant amount. And if you take the trouble to ensure that you have the right insulation in the right places, the savings are even bigger.
If you have your heating turned up and are walking around in your shirt sleeves, you are doing things all wrong. Put a sweater on and turn the temperature down. Here’s another super save tip...wear two pairs of socks. You lose a lot of heat through your feet, so this tip creates double insulation that really makes a difference.
Extreme saver tip: You also lose a lot of heat through your head, so the most extreme savers wear a woolly hat at home, too!
2. Turn Off the Air Conditioning
In summer, do this instead! When the temperature rises, it’s easy to reach for the air-conditioning remote control and get some instant relief. But air conditioning really eats electricity and can make a big difference to your costs.
Instead, open up windows in both the front and back of your house so that a breeze blows right through. This will immediately knock the temperature down a few degrees. If necessary, add fans in strategic places to create additional air movement.
Extreme saver tip: When it’s hot at night, sleep naked on top of the covers instead of using the air conditioning.
3. Minimize Your Taxes
We all have to pay our fair share of taxes, but there is no reason why you should pay more than your share. Sadly, most people do exactly that. So get good at understanding your tax situation, and grind your tax payments down to the bone.
Make sure that you understand all the deductions which are applicable and make the most of every one of them. A few hours spent reading blog posts and YouTube videos about tax deductions can really pay dividends. Then look for tax incentives on savings and retirement investments. Take full advantage of them to keep your tax bill down whilst increasing your saving rate. Later in life, you will be so glad you did.
Extreme saver tip: If you have any kind of side hustle going, claim as many expenses as possible as business deductions.
4. Repay More than the Minimum
Here’s one way that spending more money actually saves you money. In fact, it can save you a heck of a lot. If you can manage to increase your mortgage and debt repayments so that they are above the minimum, you will be amazed at the difference this makes.
When you do this, you are leveraging the awesome power of compound interest. Even just a few dollars a month extra will have a huge impact over time. You will find that you can pay off your debts years earlier than expected.
Extreme saver tip: Pay the highest amount off your highest-interest debt first to accelerate your progress.
5. Cut Your Subscriptions
You may think that if your Netflix subscription ended, your life would end with it. But that’s not the case. I ditched my subscriptions to cable and online content, and my life improved so much as a result.
Instead of spending hours staring at a screen, I had more fun with my family. We started playing board games and doing more fun stuff together. And my money went so much further without those monthly recurring payments.
Extreme saver tip: Go through your financial statements and hunt down all monthly recurring payments. Get rid of as many of these as you can. They are real cash flow killer!
6. Get Used to Generic
Expensive brands love to tell us how superior their products are, but very often that’s not the case. Sometimes exactly the same product is sold both as a high-priced brand and a cut-price generic product. So why pay the extra?
Take a close look at the items you buy on a weekly basis, and consider when you can save by switching to generic products. You may be amazed to find that there is little or no difference in the quality of the product at the end of the day.
Extreme saver tip: Focus on switching to generic brands for products you use every day, such as shampoo, soap and washing-up liquid. The savings will add up very quickly.
7. Exercise at Home
Are you paying a high monthly cost for a fancy gym membership you never use? Exercise is important, of course, but you don’t have to go to a gym to work out. You can just as easily work out at home, or in the area near your home.
You may discover that it’s much more fun to get outdoors and enjoy running, cycling or walking in your neighborhood. And if the weather is inclement, you can do exercises in your home instead. No excuses!
Extreme saver tip: Learn some bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime without needing expensive equipment.
8. Cut the Quantities
We often waste product by using far more than we need. Do you squeeze out a whole handful of shampoo to wash your hair? You can probably cut the quantity in half and still get the same result. The same goes for washing-up liquid and washing powder. Remember that the manufacturer wants you to keep buying, so the recommended amounts will be on the high side.
You can cut back in the kitchen, too. The first step is to cut down on ketchup, sauces and condiments. A little is enough. None at all is even better!
Extreme saver tip: Ensure that members of your family cut back, too. If your teenage daughter is going crazy with shampoo every day, that cost will add up!
9. Get Rid of Your Car
Unless you live in a remote area, you may well find that a car is an expensive luxury you don’t need. Very often, you can get around by bicycle or public transport very easily, and at a fraction of the cost. When you walk or ride a bike, you get some very useful exercise, too!
If you really can’t get rid of your car, consider sharing one with a friend or neighbor. That way you split the running costs, but still have access to a vehicle when you really need one.
Extreme saver tip: Consider moving to an area with good public transport and cycle paths to make a car-free existence possible.
10. Aggregate Your Errands
Are you taking trips into town every day to complete small errands? If you are, then you are wasting both time and money. These are scarce resources that can be used more efficiently if you plan ahead.
Choose one day of your week as ‘errand day.’ Then try to avoid taking a trip into town on other days. Aggregate all your errands into one trip so that you get everything done at once. This way you will not only save money on transport and parking, you will save a lot of wasted time on repeated trips.
Extreme saver tip: Try to time your weekly trip to get the best value. If your local pizza parlour has a ‘cheap Tuesday’ deal, then time your errands for Tuesdays and get a cheap treat, too!
11. Stick to Your Shopping List
Never go shopping without a shopping list! Wandering around a supermarket picking up whatever you fancy is a sure way to blow your budget. Make a list of the essential items you need to buy and stick to the list rigidly.
Be especially careful when you reach the checkout. All those magazines, candy bars and soda cans are designed to catch your eye when you are vulnerable. Resist the temptation to top up your cart with ‘just a couple of goodies.’
Extreme saver tip: Look for items on ‘special’ that you can substitute for the items on your list. But make sure it’s a substitution, not an addition!
12. Wait a Week
Impulse buying is a real budget killer, so you need to be really careful when you are out shopping. This is especially true when items are on sale. That pair of shoes on discount might seem like a real bargain. But the question is, do you really need that item? After all, it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it in the first place.
A great way to reduce impulse buying is to wait a week before committing to an unexpected purchase. That gives you time to decide whether you really need this item, and whether you can afford it.
Extreme saver tip: Ask yourself if the item in question is likely to be lying forgotten somewhere around your home six months for now. If the answer is ‘yes,’ you don’t need it!
13. Google Your Leftovers
So what’s in your fridge? A few bits of pieces, but not enough to make a decent meal, right? You might as well throw them in the trash or give them to to dog.
Hey...hold on a second! You might be surprised at what you can make with what you already have. All you need to Google your list of available food items, followed by the word ‘recipe.’ You are sure to get back some fantastic and exotic meal ideas that will clear out your fridge and give you a tasty meal, too!
Extreme saver tip: You can also trying Googling with the word ‘ingredients’ instead of ‘recipe’ to get more ideas.
14. Eat at Home
If Facebook is suggesting that you add Ronald McDonald as a friend, you know you have a fast-food addiction problem. Eating out not only hurts your health, it poleaxes your budget, too. You don’t have to give up eating out altogether, but make a it a once-a-week treat rather than a daily habit.
When you eat at home, you only pay for the basic cost of the food items themselves. You don’t have to contribute to the cost of the fancy restaurant, all the staff and the other overheads. So you cut your food costs down to size - enjoying similar food at a much lower cost.
Extreme saver tip: Be sure to collect the discount coupons that arrive in your mailbox, so that when your treat meal comes around, you get that at a lower price, too!
15. Unplug Your Home
We live in a world where electronic and electrical devices proliferate. And while that brings us many benefits, there is a cost attached, too. Many of these items continue to use power even when we are not actively using them.
The TV is the biggest culprit. If you have a plasma TV and you use the remote to switch it off at night, you are wasting a whole lot of power! Your TV is not properly switched off and will continue to drain power through the night. Instead, switch it off at the TV itself. Or to be on the safe side, unplug it at the wall. The same goes for other devices in your home that drain power unnecessarily.
Extreme saver tip: When charging mobile phones and tablets, remember to unplug them when they are fully charged.
16. Pay Your Bills on Time
When cash is tight, it’s tempting to put off paying your bills as long as possible. But this can be counter-productive. If you wait too long, you could be hit with late fees and interest charges.
To avoid this problem, budget for paying your bills first. Make this your priority, and plan other spending around this requirement. That way, you won’t have to delay payments, and can avoid being hit with additional charges. After all, late fees and interest charges really are a total waste of money!
Extreme saver tip: Some companies will offer you a small discount in return for paying early. If you see an opportunity to do that, make the most of it!
17. Switch to a Cheaper Provider
Once you have found a service provider you are comfortable with, it’s easy to stay with that company for years - paying monthly or annual renewals without a second thought. But you may well find that the company that offered you the best deal three years ago is not so competitive now.
When any insurance policy comes up for renewal, be sure to get quotes from different providers to see if you can get a better deal. You will be surprised at how much you can save by getting providers to compete for your business.
Extreme saver tip: When your mobile phone contract expires, see if you can get a better deal there too!
18. Go Vegetarian...Sometimes!
Meat is one of the most expensive items on any grocery shopping list. And to make things worse it doesn’t keep very well - so you have to throw some of it away. That makes it a good idea to consider eating vegetarian meals to cut down on costs.
You don’t have to become 100% vegetarian - just increase the number of veggie meals you eat. There are thousands of great vegetarian dishes that taste great and cost considerably less than most meat dishes. Just search for ‘vegetarian recipes’ on Pinterest and you will be overwhelmed with results.
Extreme saver tip: Go all the way to vegan and you will not only save more money, you will lose weight faster, too!
19. Buy Gifts in the Sales
Every year, we all have to buy gifts for our friends and loved ones at Christmas and other special times. You can cut the cost of this expense by thinking well ahead.
A great time to buy Christmas gifts is in the New Year sales. You can often pick up real bargains that you can store for the Christmas to come. Buy some items for birthday gifts,too, and you will be well ahead of the game.
Extreme saver tip: Recycle unwanted presents by gifting them to someone else next year!
20. Automate Your Savings
When money is tight, it’s so easy to decide that saving can wait. But if you take that approach, you will find yourself in retirement with no savings to help you. You need to be committed to saving carefully from a younger age...and that means now!
The only way to ensure that you keep saving is to automate your savings. That means a set sum should be automatically deposited into your savings account each month. This forces you to budget for the payment, and ensures that the payment actually happens every time. You will be so glad when you are older!
Extreme saver tip: Automate your bill payments, too, so that you are force to budget for these also.
21. Squeeze Every Last Drop
Don’t throw out your toothpaste tube until you have literally squeezed every drop out of it! You will be surprised at how much you can get out of a tube that appears to be empty. The more you squeeze, the more you delay the next purchase.
When your washing-up liquid bottle appears to be empty, remove the top, add a little water and shake vigorously. You will get enough liquid for a couple more washes. The same goes for other items around the house.
Extreme saver tip: To get the most out of your toothpaste, roll the tube up from the bottom to squeeze out even more!
21. Buy Second Hand
Need a new bike? Instead of forking out hundreds of dollars for a new one, get a used bike from eBay, Craigslist or a garage sale. You can often pick up a bargain and save yourself a lot of money.
Be ready to negotiate hard. Have cash ready to pay, and offer the seller a quick and easy way to get rid of the unwanted item. Almost anything can be bought second hand, and you can get as-good-as-new items for half price or less.
Extreme saver tip: When you have finished with the item, be sure to sell it in the same way. You may get all your money back...or even make a profit!
22. Avoid Shopping When Hungry
I used to make the mistake of going shopping before dinner, but after going to the gym. The result was that I was always starving hungry while walking down the supermarket aisles, and couldn’t resist picking up delicious goodies.
When I switched to going shopping after dinner, my grocery bills dropped significantly. So choose your shopping times carefully so that you don’t end up buying things that you don’t really need.
Extreme saver tip: While in the supermarket, look out for free food samples on offer. These can add up to free but tasty meal!
23. Make Your Own Cards
Christmas cards, birthday cards, Easter cards...there always seems to be some occasion that requires you to buy a whole stack of cards. And that is an expense you don’t need.
You can cut out this expense by making your own Christmas cards, etc. If you have children, especially, this is a fun activity that the whole family can share in. Use scrap materials from around the home to make the cards. Your relatives will love the fact that they got a unique, custom card from you and the kids - instead of some boring card from a shop.
Extreme saver tip: Skip the printed cards altogether and send everyone digital cards by email or social media instead!
24. Make the Most of Reward Cards
If you shop in the same place regularly, make sure you join their loyalty program and get a rewards card. The savings may seem small at first, but they compound over time and can end up saving you a great deal of money.
When choosing a new supermarket, check out their loyalty program before deciding if it’s the right place for you. You may find that one supermarket has a much better rewards program than another one, tipping your choice one way or the other.
Extreme saver tip: Offer to do a neighbor’s shopping for them. They save a trip, and you get the benefit of the reward points!
25. Recycle as Much as You Can
Recycling is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your budget, too. Don’t throw away anything that can be recycled for another purpose.
With a little creative thinking, you will come up with all kinds of creative uses for things you normally throw away. Every time you recycle an item, you avoid the need to purchase one product. And that adds up to a considerable saving over time.
Extreme saver tip: Go dumpster diving and recycle other people’s junk, too!
Go Extreme Today!
So there you have it - 25 terrific tips for extreme saving that could turn your finances around. Even if you implement just a few of these ideas, the impact on your budget could be substantial.
Getting started is the hard part. We all tend to get set into a routine, and may be reluctant to change it. But once you start putting these ideas into action, the results will compound and you will achieve a much more balanced budget...and a much happier life!