People don’t always admit to the little things that they do around the house to save money, because they fear they’ll be labelled as ‘cheap’. But being frugal and making your money stretch further isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s resourceful. It’s also something that people on a modest income often do as a matter of course! So here are some interesting ways that you can save money on a tight budget.
In the kitchen…
1) Research food waste charities in your area. Schemes do vary from place to place, but there are new community supermarkets and food waste projects cropping up each week. If you’re finding it hard to make the books balance then research what is available in your local area. Remember, there is no shame in saving food that is going to landfill!
2) Squeeze out the last drop. How many times do you just throw the last of the tomato puree away? Use a Bulldog clip to get every last drop out.
3) Con the kids. If your children are brand snobs, then why not refill their favourite cereal box with a supermarket’s own brand? They might be turning their nose up at bargain custard creams, but can they really tell the difference? Find out by decanting a frugal food alternative into branded packaging, or another container.
4) Bulk out your mince. Pulses, beans and grains cost less than mince. So make your spag bol or chilli go further by bulking it out.
5) Hit the reduced aisle. If you’re looking for ways to save money on a tight budget, then its time to seek out some yellow reduced stickers. Each supermarket reduces at certain times, but if you’re savvy about it, then you can pick up some real bargains.
6) Rinse out cans and jars. Make your sauce go further by adding some water to the bottom and giving it a shake.
7) Use vegetable water to make instant gravy. If you usually make instant gravy, then instead of boiling the kettle, use the water that you’ve boiled your veg in. This water should also add an extra layer of taste to your gravy.
8) Shop your cupboards. It’s likely that you have sauces, grains and tins in the cupboard that have been there for weeks, if not months. So instead of heading to the shops, why don’t you try and shop your cupboards? Have a look at what you already have and try to make meals from those ingredients.
9) Freeze food. This one sounds obvious, but it isn’t just leftovers that you can freeze. Check out my list of 10 extra things you should have in your freezer for some inspiration!
10) Use your smartphone. If you have a smartphone, then use it. Apps such as Too Good To Go, Shopmium and OLIO enable you to get free, or heavily discounted food.
11) Meal plan. You will save money if you plan what you’re eating. If the thought of doing this feels overwhelming, check out my 11 top meal planning tips for busy families.
12) Wash and reuse containers. Rather than buying tupperware, reuse the boxes that you acquire (like ice cream tubs and takeaway containers).
13) Reuse sandwich bags. If you use sandwich bags, the consider reusing them. If you wash them out with water, then you’ll be surprised by how many uses you’ll get from them.
14) Use bread bags. An alternative to sandwich bags is the bag that your loaf arrives in. Instead of throwing it in the bin, save it and use it to package your next lot of sandwiches.
15) Experiment with half a dishwasher tablet. If you have a light load, then half a dishwasher tab will do the job.
16) Wash up more. Whilst we’re on the subject of dirty dishes, it’s worth mentioning that you will save energy and water if you simply use your dishwasher less. So consider doing the washing up by hand a little bit more often.
17) Make your own salad dressing. You don’t need to buy a fancy salad dressing. Instead, use items within your store cupboard. Lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil all work.
18) Reduce your meat consumption. Often, when you break down the cost of a meal, the meat is the expensive bit. You don’t have to cut it out all together, but even opting for some meatless Monday meals could make a difference to your overall food cost.
19) Have a buffet tea. If you have half a packet of onion rings and some chicken nuggets in the freezer, along with some sausage rolls and coleslaw in the fridge, then then why not have a buffet tea? By doing this, you can use up what you have. As you’re having a ‘buffet tea’, it doesn’t matter if you wouldn’t usually serve those items up together either.
If you’re looking for fun ways to save money on a tight budget then this is great one; as the kids will feel like they’re attending a birthday party!
In the bathroom…
20) Squeeze your loo rolls. Does anybody else have children that just pull and pull at the toilet roll? In an attempt to prevent this, squeeze the roll before adding it to the dispenser. Doing this will mean that the person taking the paper is less likely to remove more than they need.
21) Cut the end off. You can often make toothpaste, shower gel and shampoo go further by trimming the end off with a pair of scissors.
22) Shop your toiletry shelf. When was the last time you had a look at your toiletry shelf? Quite often, we are gifted toiletries and we forget we have them. So if you’ve ran out of shower gel, then check what you have on your toiletry shelf before heading out for more.
23) Save old toothbrushes. When your toothbrush needs replacing, save it. They are great for cleaning those hard-to-reach spots within the house.
24) Use conditioner to shave your legs. If you don’t have shaving foam and you can’t afford to buy any, then use conditioner instead. It works just as well.
25) Use a lip brush. If your favourite lipstick is running low, then use a lip brush so you can utilise the bottom of it before buying a new one.
26) Save miniatures. The next time you go on holiday and you spot a miniature, pocket it. These are so handy to pack for future nights away and you can also use them if you run out of an item such as shampoo, unexpectedly.
In your wardrobe…
27) Shop your drawers. If you think you need a new item of clothing, then check your wardrobe and drawers first. So many of us only wear a fraction of our wardrobe, so you may already own something that you were going to buy a replacement for.
28) Stop impulse buying. If you want something, don’t just buy it. Instead, add it to a list of items that you’d really like to purchase and wait until the end of the month to decide if you can truly justify that purchase. Having a list like this is also very handy for when friends and family members ask you what you’d like for your birthday. When it come to finding ways to save money on a tight budget, this one could save you hundreds over the year.
29) Make do and mend. If your favourite dress develops a hole or a rip, don’t bin it. Instead, fix it! If you’re not handy with a needle and thread, then ask your friends and family. There are plenty of people that still have these skills and they’re often very happy to help.
30) Borrow or swap. Instead of buying a new item of clothing, ask a similar-sized friend if they have something you could borrow. You could give them something you no longer wear in exchange.
31) Consider secondhand clothing. You can get some absolute bargains in charity shops and on online selling sites. So don’t rule out secondhand clothing if you do need a new outfit.
32) Wash your trainers. If your trainers are looking tatty, but you’d like to get a bit more wear out of them, then throw them in the washing machine. I put them in a pillowcase first and I put them in on their own, so they don’t damage any other items of clothing. Your trainers might not come out looking as they did new, but you may get an additional few months of wear out of them.
33) Look for a fast fashion alternative. If you need something new, then you should consider looking at a fast fashion website like Everything5Pounds, because they’re not all bad! I’ve previously written about the reasons I buy cheap fashion clothes.
In the house…
34) Recycle gift bags. If you’re gifted something in a bag, save it and use it again. Not only is this good for the environment, but you’ll save yourself a few quid as well. Just remember to double check that the gift tag hasn’t been written on!
35) Use Christmas cards as gift tags. Recycle your old Christmas cards by turning them into gift tags. If you’re going to send cards out, then you should also check out the creative kids craft that could save you hundreds.
36) Use wrapping paper as gift tags. If you’re not bothered by how the gift tag looks, then simply stick a square of wrapping paper (with the blank side upwards) on your gift and write who it is for on there. Job done!
37) Reuse paper. When junk mail comes through the post and you print on paper, don’t just get rid of it. Instead, use the back of that paper. The kids can draw on it and some of it can go back through the home printer, but in reverse (obviously).
38) Borrow or share (don’t buy). If you need a new a new household item, then consider borrowing it from somebody else. Or you could ask somebody to go halves on the item. This works especially well if you’re looking to buy something that you won’t use that often, like a carpet cleaner or a power washer.
39) Reuse your hot water bottle water. When you’ve used a hot water bottle in the night, you’ll want to dispose of the water. But instead of throwing it down the drain, water your plants with it.
40) Zoflora is your friend. This is one cheap, versatile cleaning product that I wouldn’t be without. I’ve previously written about the many different ways that you can use Zoflora within the home and I’ve also explained how you can make your own Zoflora trigger spray. If you’re looking at ways to save money on a tight budget, then you really do need to invest in this product.
41) Can it go in the dishwasher? It’s not only plates, pots and pans that can go in the dishwasher. I’ve been known to put my son’s toys and his wellies in the there! This saved me time and money (as I didn’t need to purchase an additional cleaning product). I know I’m not alone in doing this, because my friend washes her dog’s bowl in her dishwasher.
Obviously, you need to think before you put an item in your dishwasher, but if you’re looking to clean a household object, then it’s worth remembering that your dishwasher could provide the solution.
43) Use old clothes as dusters. Instead of buying dusters, use an old clothing item. I find that old leggings are great for this!
44) Do a bank account audit. You might think that you’ve made all the savings you possibly can, but you should ensure that you do a regular account audit. Look at your subscriptions and regular payments and confirm that you definitely need and can afford each one.
45) Review your budget. If you need to free up some extra cash, then use my free budget planner to see if you can release some additional funds.
46) Accept help from others and pay it forward. If you’re struggling and a friend or family member offers to help, then gracefully accept. We all hit rough patches and a helping hand often helps us to get through them quicker. If somebody does help you out when things are tight, then be sure to pay it forward when you can.
This list of ways to save money on a tight budget may seem insignificant, but if you’re really struggling to make the books balance, then they can help. You should consider trying them if them if you have money in the bank too, because looking after your pennies is never a bad idea.
These little tweaks can add up and save you some serious cash, but if you need further inspiration, then check out my money section.