Ever feel like your budget is stretched so thin you could poke a hole in it? Between rent, bills, groceries, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, saving money seems about as likely as winning the lottery. But what if there were ways to keep more cash in your pocket without living like a hermit?
Good news, we're going to be exploring programs and resources to help you save money on a tight budget. No, we're not talking about clipping coupons or only shopping the clearance rack. Here're legit money-saving tips to lower your costs that most people don't even realize exist. Keep reading to find out how you can keep your savings account juicy and still enjoy exciting things in life.
Create a Budget and Track Your Spending
Creating a budget and tracking your spending is essential to living within your means. First, list your monthly income sources such as jobs, side gigs, government benefits, or assets. Then, list your expenses - rent, utilities, loan payments, groceries, etc. Compare them to make sure your income exceeds your expenses. If not, you're going to need to reduce spending.
If you haven't already, it's also a good time to create an emergency fund to stash away your savings. An emergency fund is just a dedicated savings account that holds a certain amount of money in case of unexpected circumstances where you need cash. By using a high-yield savings account, you could make a pretty good amount by earning more money on your savings!
Find Ways to Cut Expenses
So once you've mapped your income & expenses, how do you reduce actually spending?
Cook more & dine out less
Eating at home is way more budget-friendly than dining out. Try cooking meals in bulk that you can freeze and enjoy later. Shop in-season produce and items on sale at your local grocery store. Find coupons on apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51. Making your coffee and snacks at home rather than purchasing them can save you a bundle over time as well.
Look for ways to save on essential bills
We all have to pay bills, though sometimes there's ways to reduce costs on them, Check if you're able to lower or eliminate certain bills like cable or phone. Find cheaper plans or do without some services altogether. Don't be afraid to call companies and negotiate for a lower rate or ask if they offer any budget-friendly plans. Every small amount helps when you're on a budget.
With some creativity and extra effort, you could find ways to spend less without greatly impacting your life. Making adjustments here and there and sticking to a budget helps ensure you have enough for the things that really matter to you.
Find Free or Low-Cost Entertainment
Living on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stay home every night. There are many free or low-cost entertainment options available if you know where to look.
Public libraries offer free access to books, movies, music, magazines, newspapers, and events. Check what’s on the calendar at your local branch and attend lectures or activities that interest you. Many libraries also lend museum or attraction passes that can save you money.
Check with your city or county’s parks and recreation department for free events like outdoor movies, concerts, festivals, and activities. Go for a hike at a local nature preserve or go geocaching for a scavenger hunt.
Many museums offer free admission days. Do some research to find the free days and times at museums you’re interested in. Some also have discounted membership options if you go frequently.
Search online for “free events” along with the name of your city or town. You’re likely to find listings for festivals, art walks, food truck meetups, holiday celebrations, and more. These types of community gatherings could be great ways to experience something new without spending a lot.
Living on a budget doesn’t have to be boring. With some digging, you can uncover a wealth of free and low-cost entertainment options in your local area.
Earn Extra Money With Side Gigs
To earn some extra money on the side, consider taking on a side hustle. Side gigs are part-time jobs you do in addition to your regular work. They're great ways to earn extra money to pay off credit card debt or simply grow your emergency or retirement savings accounts. Some options to consider:
Drive for a Ridesharing Service
If you have a reliable car, consider driving for Uber or Lyft in your spare time. You make your own schedule and can drive whenever you have free time. The compensation varies but can be $10 to $15 an hour.
Freelancing allows you to use your skills to complete projects for clients on a contract basis. Sites like Upwork or Freelancer allow you to find freelance work in areas like writing, programming, graphic design, virtual assistance, and more. The amount it pays will depend on the type of work and your experience.
Rent Out a Spare Room
If you have an extra room in your home, consider renting it out on Airbnb or VRBO to generate some extra money each month. You could be making between $40 to $50 a night renting out a single room. Make sure to check with your local regulations on short-term rentals first.
Sell Unwanted Items
Go digging around your attic or closets to pull out any valuable items you no longer need. Then sell them on websites like Craigslist and Nextdoor. Price items competitively and you can make a couple hundred to thousands of dollars clearing out your unwanted stuff.
Take Advantage of Government Assistance Programs
Lastly -- there are also government programs available to help you stretch your budget. Take advantage of them!
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP provides monthly benefits on an EBT card to purchase groceries. Depending on your income and family size, you could receive anywhere from $50-$500 a month. Apply with your state’s SNAP website and you need to provide info like pay stubs, rent statements, and utilities.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Medicaid provides low-cost or free health insurance for eligible individuals including children, pregnant women, elderly, and disabled. CHIP offers low-cost health coverage for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Apply on your state’s Medicaid website. They will review your income and family size to determine if you qualify.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF provides temporary financial assistance and support services for needy families with children. Benefits may include cash assistance, child care assistance, job preparation, and other support services. The program has work requirements, so you're going to need to look for work or enroll in some sort of vocational training program. Apply at your local TANF office.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP provides grants for home energy bills, energy-related minor home repairs, and weatherization. You could receive money to pay for utilities like heating, cooling, and weatherization needs. The funds are awarded based on your energy costs and ability to pay. Apply with your state's LIHEAP program office.
These government programs were created to help those in need make ends meet during tough times. Don’t hesitate to use them if you're eligible.
Apply to EASY Wireless’ Free Phone Program!
We hope that after reading this blog, you have a better understanding of living on a budget and you're ready to start implementing yours. But what if we told you that there were simpler ways to save money?
Like applying to EASY Wireless' free phone plan! We work with government connectivity programs such as Lifeline ACP to offer incredible benefits to qualifying Americans. If eligible, here’s what you receive:
EASY Wireless Unlimited Plan
- FREE Unlimited Data
- FREE Unlimited Talk
- FREE Unlimited Text
- FREE SIM Card Kit and Activation
- Choose to Keep Your Number or Get a New One
To start with EASY Wireless, apply online by clicking the below:
Start Saving Today!
Or you can come to one of the EASY Wireless's retail stores, where our customer service agent will help you apply for your benefits.