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7 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Grant Gallagher

At Affinity, we take an active role in encouraging our Community Connected to practice financial well-being and sensible thriftiness. To that end, we’re holding the year-long “Great Savings Challenge,” in which members who meet certain qualifications can enter to win a monthly cash prize of $1,000 through June.

But we’re also fully aware that it isn’t easy for most households to save money, living as they do with both regular and unforeseen expenses ranging from daily necessities to a sudden misfortune involving one’s car, home or health. In such a challenging situation, how do you make small changes to save money without significantly lowering your own standard of living? In the spirit of helping members spend smarter, here are 7 ways to save money on a tight budget.

Woman shopping

Affinity’s Top 7 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

1. Bring coffee and/or lunch from home: If you’re a coffee drinker, you may have developed a daily ritual of stopping at your favorite coffee shop each day before work to get your morning pick-me-up. But it may be costing you more money than it has to. It’s typically far cheaper to make coffee at home and investing in a large travel mug – some can hold an entire pot of coffee! You don’t have to sacrifice quality either, buying whole bean coffee and grinding it right before you brew can lead to an even better cup of coffee than what you’ve been getting from your local drive through.

As for lunch, you’ll save quite a bit of money by “brown-bagging” a home-cooked meal rather than ordering in or going to a deli or restaurant each day. These are small steps that may disrupt your comfortable routine, but you’ll adapt in time. And when you see your finances improving, you’ll realize how little you needed to get coffee or lunch from a particular spot.

2. Bulk buying: There are certain retail chains that were founded on the principle of “buying in bulk,” and they have thrived in their competitive industry for a reason. According to personal finance website “The Balance,” buying everyday goods like food, paper products and toiletries in bulk can save between 20 and 80 percent1 on your regular spending, depending on how many (and which) items you buy that way. Even if you’re buying for only a 1 or 2 person household and buying 36 eggs at a time doesn’t seem practical, you can still find ways to save at bulk retailers by buying non-perishables. This may be inconvenient in terms of transporting and storing all those items, but it will definitely save you money. At some supermarkets the largest size is not always the cheapest by unit, so you might need to do a little math (sometimes already done for you right on the price label) to make sure you are maximizing your savings when there are multiple sizes to choose from.

3. A “cooling-off” period for impulse buys. Even the thriftiest people sometimes have the sudden desire to buy an unnecessary item, whether a new outfit, a TV set or some other luxury. It’s ok to reward yourself every once in a while, but you need boundaries. That’s why it’s wise to have as a rule a “cooling off” period of a day or two when you see something you want to buy. Often, crafty store displays or targeted online ads try to get you to purchase things that you would realize you don’t need or event want if you really thought about it. Give yourself time to rethink the occasional impulse buy, and if you know you are still a potential victim for impulse buying, consider limiting your shopping to stores or websites that have generous return policies when the inevitable buyer’s remorse kicks in.

4. Spend more now for items that save money later: Sometimes it makes sense to spend more money now, if it will save you money in the long term. When you buy a car, for instance, you should be willing to pay more for quality rather than purchasing a vehicle that will repeatedly break down and require expensive repairs. If you have a taste for vehicles that have spotty reliability records or expensive repair parts, you should consider protecting your future self by purchasing Mechanical Breakdown Protection. You should be careful with your money, but being downright cheap can sometimes have costly consequences.

5. Lower your banking and credit card fees: Fees on bank accounts and credit cards can be so slight and/or occasional that you don’t really notice them, but they add up. But you can negotiate fees: a recent study showed that 81 percent2 of consumers who asked for lower credit card fees actually got what they wanted from their companies! And if you can’t get lower fees for credit cards and banking, try seeing if you can get a better deal on deposit accounts and credit cards through Affinity.

6. Use cash-back credit cards. You have bills, right? Imagine being able to make money every time you pay for your cell phone bill, favorite streaming service, or groceries. That’s possible with cash-back credit cards, in which you can make a little back every time you make a purchase. So long as you limit spending to items you were going to buy anyway, this is a certain way to save money. You can even make some effortless cash back by taking advantage of the autopay options that most utility companies and subscriptions offer, which sometimes also offer a discount for setting up autopay. If you’re an Affinity member, ask about our cash-back credit card offerings.

7. Consider mortgage refinancing: Having a lot of debt can cost you a lot through interest rates, burdening you for what seems like forever. Refinancing your home could be a good bet if you have a lot of bills and are facing high interest rates. Affinity’s Enrich tool offers a “Mortgage Refinance Calculator” to help determine if you would save from refinancing. This isn’t an ideal step for everyone, but it’s something you can consider.

Taking these steps can help you not only save money but perhaps win the $1,000 prize in one of the months of 2019. But even if they don’t, they will definitely make you more secure in your financial situation. And at Affinity, that’s a key goal of our personal finance education initiatives!

Join our Great Savings Challenge and start saving smarter today!

1 Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/heres-one-easy-way-to-pay-less-to-your-credit-card-company.html

2 Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/heres-one-easy-way-to-pay-less-to-your-credit-card-company.html

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made. - See more at: https://www.affinityfcu.com/tips-and-tools/affinity-connect-blog/2017/acronym-101-the-low-down-on-segs.aspx#sthash.HNRlWMk2.dpuf