Saving on a tight budget might seem like an oxymoron. We get it. When you’re just trying to get by week to week (or day to day), the thought of stashing away even a small amount feels daunting. Don’t be discouraged: All financial goals are achieved one dollar at a time.
Saving shouldn’t have to be inaccessible—and we’re here to help. Inspirus Credit Union offers low- to no-fee accounts, so you can get started with our regular savings account with as little as $5. And with these three tips for saving on a tight budget, you can turn that $5 into exponentially more.
Buying wholesale is a great way to save money, especially for shelf-stable items like toilet paper and paper towels. A Costco Gold Star membership costs $60, but the annual savings can easily exceed the investment. If $60 is a stretch for your budget, consider going in on a Costco membership with a few friends (or you can purchase items in bulk through an Amazon Prime membership which can be similarly shared with a friend or a roommate). Smart Foodservice (formerly Cash&Carry) doesn’t require a membership, and if you’re okay with items scarcely past their prime, Grocery Outlet is a great option, too.
Buying wholesale is a great way to save money, especially for shelf-stable items like toilet paper and paper towels.
Account for everything
From online banking to budgeting software, technology has changed the way we think about, access, spend, and save money. This is both good and bad. It’s good because there is less distance between each of us and our assets. It’s bad because debit and credit cards make it easier to swipe our way into financial trouble. But the more you know, the better you can protect yourself.
There are a variety of apps available to help manage your money. Clarity Money is one of our favorites—primarily because it gives you a full view of your financial picture. Clarity Money also helps you cancel those pesky unwanted subscriptions and uses data science and machine learning to offer insights on how to save better (or spend less).
If you’re looking for a low-tech option, pick up a notebook and start tracking every single expense (yes, even that soda from the vending machine at work). When you have a sense of where every penny is going, you can identify new opportunities for savings.
Try the cash diet
In Seven Steps to Smarter Savings, we suggest trying the cash diet. The cash diet means ditching your debit and credit cards, and opting to use cash for your expenses. Some people like the envelope method, while others prefer pulling from a single stash. It’s up to you.
Once you’ve accounted for everything—rent, debts, savings, etc.—see how much you have left over. Let’s say you have $1,000 a month available after bills and savings. (We know that sounds like a lot, but round numbers are good for guesstimating.) Next, withdraw that cash, divide it over four weeks, and use $250 each week for all your daily expenses. You’ll likely be surprised by how quickly it goes—a latte here, an extra soda there. But using cash for daily expenses will help you pace your spending habits against what you actually have available. By taking advantage of these simple strategies, you’ll create newfound financial flexibility and be able to have a savings account that really grows.