How to Save when Money is Tight

Raising four children on a single income makes me somewhat of an expert on this topic. For my family, it’s not about saving, it’s about getting by. Here are some of the ways we do it.

Shop at thrift stores, especially when buying clothes for children. Children do not need designer clothes, and their clothes aren’t going to last them longer than 6 months to a year anyways. The younger the child, the faster they outgrow the clothes. Frequent thrift stores and garage sales. (you can find lots more than clothes, which will save money in other areas as well)

Don’t pay more than you think it’s worth, no matter how badly you feel you “have” to have it.

Shop at wholesale clubs, such as BJ’s and Sam’s Club. It seems more expensive at first, but it really pays off in the long run. This is something we’ve recently discovered. You don’t have to start off buying a ton, especially if you don’t have money to “stock up”. Many items are most definitly cheaper in the long run at the wholesale clubs. Buy a little per week, and freeze or store what you won’t use right away. That way you have a little stored up for a rainy day, or it is less you have to spend the following week. Overall, it adds up.

Buy store brand items where and when you can. We’ve found we like some store brands just as much as the name brand, and it saves us a bit of money.

Put your pocket change in a jar. At the end of the month, deposit it in a savings account that has a decent interest rate.

Save bottles and cans, return them every month and deposit that money into said bank account.

Use credit cards sparingly. Pay more than the minimum payment.

NEVER SPEND MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE! This was always our biggest problem. We are such impulse shoppers that we would write checks for things, knowing full well the money wasn’t in the bank, or if it was, that checks were already written against it. We did this assuming we’d get money in the bank before one or both of the checks were cashed. We were wrong. Both checks ended up cashing before we could get the money in, and suddenly our bank account goes negative, and we’re being charged fees on both ends for writing a bad check. The bank continues to charge fees for having a negative balance, and eventually that needs to be paid off. It costs far more than it’s worth. Just don’t do it!

If things are really tight, it’s good to analyze your lifestyle and see where you can cut back. Do you really need caller ID on the phone? Is basic cable not enough? How important is the internet, can you cut back to a cheaper provider? Do you absolutely have to have 2 vehicles right now, or can you share one vehicle, driving each other to and from work, or taking a bus even?
Make a thorough list of all your monthly expenses and figure out which ones can be cut back a bit, and which ones cannot. Then put it into action.