ant to learn effective budgeting hacks? These money hacks are among the ones you wish you knew before. Learn how to stick to a budget with these money tips, reduce bills, among others.
Budgeting is hard. If it were easy, then, a lot of people would have all their finances figured out by now.
I hear you. I've been in situations where I made a budget and it didn't work. I pushed through and found effective budgeting tips and tricks.
Believe it or not:
Budgeting can be easy if you know the very basics of it.
If you are interested in learning these budgeting hacks plus some more, read on!
There are more in store for you.
What are the benefits of reading this article?
If you read the article from start to end without skipping on any step, then, you'll know the important things like:
17+ Best Budgeting Hacks To Save You Money Now
There is no shortcut on how to stick to a budget. People will tell you that it’s the easiest thing to do in the world. The truth is, if it were so easy, then, a lot more people would have a good, working budget.
That said, budgeting, once you get a good handle on it, will become easy and second nature to you.
Here are the 17+ best budgeting hacks you’ll ever need to save money now.
1. Make a budget every month
Did you know that only 41% of Americans maintain a household budget? That’s right.
The first, and one of the most important, of our budgeting hacks is to learn how to make a budget (monthly).
Contrary to popular belief, budgeting doesn't have to be overly complicated. In fact, there are tons of free budgeting templates available online to get you started.
Check out this recent blog where we share our favorite budgeting templates to help make managing your money a breeze.
2. Create a side hustle
Good that you’ve got a job. But wouldn’t it be better if you have another side hustle or two that can help you make and save money? A side hustle that doesn’t eat up a lot of time and effort.
Believe it or not:
There are those side hustles that can generate money month after month (all without you doing so much or doing anything else different than what you are already doing).
Some of the side hustles you could make money from for FREE include:
- Survey Junkie – a survey site that pays up to $35/survey
- Swagbucks – get paid for anything that you do (literally anything that you do) + get $15 bonus
- Survey Club – a focus group that pays up to $115/survey
Once you've made money from them, then, you can move to a new phase (i.e., putting your money to work) with these side hustles:
- Blogging – you can start blogging for $2.95/mo and eventually make money from it. This small blog of mine makes over $10,000/mo, and I only touch it 5 hours per month.
- Investing – People say real estate is where the money is. I believe that. That said, it takes a ton of money to get started with real estate. Not anymore. With Fundrise, you can invest as little as $500. Think of Fundrise as stock market meets real estate investment.
3. Set up an automatic savings plan
One of the biggest budgeting tips and tricks of all is to set up automatic payments to a savings account.
I have a number of automatic savings plans set up that withdraw from my primary checking on a weekly basis.
Think about this:
You can’t spend money you don’t have access to, eliminating the temptations to blow through your cash.
Even with automatic savings plans, you may still find yourself spending too much money. A budgeting app can help keep you on track.
One of the best budgeting apps around is Digit. It makes saving money easy and passive by analyzing your spending automatically and saving the perfect amount every day. You literally set it and forget it.
The Practical Saver Pro Tip
4. Find a savings buddy
One of the most effective budgeting hacks on our list of budgeting tips and tricks is by enlisting a like-minded friend to help you resist the temptation to impulse buy.
You might even want to make it interesting by making it a competition.
For example, you could see who could make $1000 fast (remember, two-thirds of Americans don’t even have a $1000 emergency fund!) and whoever does first gets treated to lunch or coffee by the other.If you’re going to create an emergency fund, make sure to put your money into a savings account with a high-interest rate.
A great one to check out is CIT Bank's savings account, which offers at least 2.15% APY on your savings.
That’s 25 times the current national average! Some banks pay as low as .01%.
5. Cut rarely-used subscriptions or memberships
One of the easiest budgeting hacks out there is to cut expenses you no longer need. Period.
How about cutting out the subscriptions or gym membership? Now, I have your attention.
Believe it or not:
There are a lot of things that we signed up for but have never used.
If you don't know where to start, or how to cut them out, or not sure if you have the power to negotiate your bills, there are apps that you can help do all those things:
If you need help cutting down your bills without sacrificing the benefits, here are some best negotiation apps that can help you with that:
- Trim – negotiates even the most difficult bill you have. Last month alone, it saved users over $1 MILLION. That's with an M. See my review Trim review here.
- Charlie – a free app that helps you cut your bills without even downloading an app. Just text Charlie and it will find you some savings. That's easy. So far, Charlie's helping people pay down $50 MILLION in credit card debt.
- Cushion – is designed to get your bank fee refunds. Tired of seeing late, maintenance, overdraft, foreign transaction fees, etc. Cushion is your best friend to negotiate with the banks. Period.
Welcome to the future. Welcome to the easy way of cutting down or out your bills for good.
6. Include all of your debt obligations
A good piece of budget motivation is to make a list of all your debts.
It might be tempting to leave out debts, especially ones like student loans when still in deferment, but doing this will not give a true picture of your debt obligations.
Don’t just create a list and forget about it. You should refer to your debt list periodically, especially as you pay bills.
Listing all of them down helps you understand where you stand and helps you think what can be done.
Once everything is listed down, then, figure out what to do to pay them one by one and faster.
For example, if you're looking into paying off your credit card debt faster, you could check out Tally and SoFi.
Tally helps you consolidate all your high-interest credit card debt into one, lower interest rate balance. By doing this, you're saving both time, money (in the form of reduced interest and penalty) and effort. Try Tally now.
Another good way is to consolidate your debt using a personal loan from SoFi, which offers unbelievably low-interest rates. Instead of you paying, for example, 23.99% per annum on interest, with SoFi you could potentially pay 5% annually or even less.
There's substantial money savings to be had there. That my friend is one of the frugal hacks that people overlook at.
7. Plan your meals
While the cost of eating out continues to climb, at-home staples are cheaper now than they were last year. So, if you’re asking yourself “how to stick to a budget,” planning your meals at home is one of those budget hacks that can really help.
Here are a few of our meal kit services:
- MyFreezMeals: Offers budget-friendly recipes, tools and an app that allows you to choose recipes based on the meal type that is on sale at your grocery store. Start your MyFreezEasy journey today and get a free sample meal plan!
- PlateJoy: In addition to offering personalized recipes and grocery lists, Platejoy also helps you save money by tracking what’s in your pantry and pairing meals together that minimizes the number of ingredients on your grocery list! Click here to start your 10-day trial with PlateJoy!
- eMeals: Each week, you will receive a list of meals that you can pick and choose from based on what fits your needs for the week. A customized grocery list is created for you that can be sent directly to Instacart as well as Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Shipt. Try eMeals free for 14 days and see for yourself!
8. Save your change
Making those dollars and cents count is next on our list of budget hacks. Those dollars and cents may not be a whole lot. But when you invest them and let them grow, they could become five or even six figures.
You can do that with Acorns.
When you use Acorns, your spare change is automatically invested without you even having to think about it.
How does it work? Acorns rounds up your purchases to the next dollar. Once your account accumulates $5, it invests your money. See my Acorns review here.
Here's the kicker:
Imagine turning your cents into thousands of dollars. That's possible with Acorns.
Search on the internet, and you'll find that a lot of people have gone to make thousands from their cents.
Talk about a way to make extra money fast!
The Practical Saver Pro Tip
Give your budgeting plan to work. It takes time for it to work. If it were to work right away, then, a lot of people would be doing those budgeting tips and tricks right now.
9. Get refunds that you deserve
In certain cases, you may have some refund money up for grabs from stores that you didn't even know about!
A refund might exist when you buy an item for one price, and that item goes on sale shortly thereafter.The problem with that is you may not know when that refund is available to you unless you monitor the price fluctuations.
That said, who has the time for that, right?
Leave that and all the other legwork to Paribus.
The site will monitor prices, track your confirmation emails, and then get the money, which you overpaid, back for you. Oh, and did I mention Paribus is 100% FREE.
10. Budget to zero before the month begins
Next on our list of budgeting tips and tricks is to save money by using the zero budget system.
What is the zero budget system?
Think of it this way. Before the month even starts, you’re making a plan and giving every dollar an assignment.
By assigning your money, you’ll be less likely to overspend on things you don’t need, leading to you saving more money!
The zero based budget system works like this:
- You have $100 income
- You have $80 for expenses. Then, $20 is for savings.
- Your food expenses increase by $1. That means, you need to find other expenses to cut $1 from. So, your total expenses would still be $80.
That's what this budget system is about. It's one of those ways on how to stick to a budget.
11. Use cash and the envelope system
Are you a constant overspender on categories like groceries or entertainment?
You should consider the envelope system.
Put cash into envelopes for each of your budgeting categories, and when the cash is gone for that category, you don’t spend any more money on those types of items until your next paycheck.
- You have $100 for groceries (the money is placed in an envelope).
- You used $60 for this week's groceries. You're, then, left with $40.
- You used $30 for the next two weeks (in total). Then, you'd be left with $10.
- You used $10 on the last week. Then, you'd be left with $0.
- After that, you will have exhausted your grocery fund and need to wait for a new month to spend money.
That's what the envelope system is about. That's one of the frugal hacks people could benefit from.
12. Every month is different
One the most effective financial hacks to save money is to accept the fact that every month is different (financial responsibility wise).
Things come up unexpectedly. You may find you need new tires because your car tires are no longer usable.
Reviewing your budget a month in advance and adjusting for things that will change will keep your savings on track.
For example, some months you’ll have to budget for back to school where others you might have a vacation or holiday.
Making sure you’re prepared for those expenses will relieve potential money stresses around those times.
13. Create a buffer in your budget
Even if you plan for extra expenses, there’s always a chance of an unexpected expense popping up throughout the month.
You can plan accordingly by putting a small amount of money aside for unexpected expenses.
That way if something pops up, you can cover it without taking away money you’ve already put towards something else.
Make sure you’re keeping track of the unexpected expenses. If they pop up often enough, you may consider adding a permanent spot on your budget roster for it.
14. Be smart about using credit cards
Did you know that that the average U.S. household has an estimated $6,921 in revolving credit card debt?
That’s why one of the great budgeting tips and tricks is to use your credit cards for good spending, not wasteful spending.
For example, let’s say you have a credit card that offers cash back based on rotating categories. Only use your credit card for necessary expenses that take advantage of those categories.
If you pay off your credit card each month, you’ll actually make money using your card this way.
15. Create goals
Staying goal-oriented about your money is key to sticking to a budget.
It’s a constant reminder of what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re trying to achieve it.
From paying off student loans to building an emergency fund, it’s important to keep in mind the reason you’re making these sacrifices.
While a goal is just something that you want to achieve, it's a powerful motivator to help you get to a better place.
It's one of those financial hacks to save money that people often neglect, not pay attention to, and/or ignore completely.
16. Try an online budget tool
Sometimes, all we need to do to stick to a budget is to use a more hands-off budget tool.
If you find yourself often overspending, you should consider getting a budgeting app like Digit.
While there are lots of budget tools to help in making a budget, many are over-complicated and are confusing to use.
As mentioned above, one of the best budgeting apps around is Digit.
It makes saving money easy and passive by analyzing your spending automatically and saving the perfect amount every day. You literally set it and forget it.
17. Try a no-spend day or week
A no-spending day or week is exactly what it sounds like, putting a pause on spending.
It's more like the pantry challenge where you take full control of your grocery and not buy any other food until your pantry stack is gone, but this one focuses on general, overall spending.
It's very restrictive in one sense, but it's one of the most effective financial hacks to save money.
Freezing your spending for a few days can help you reset your finances and save you some money right away.
If you’re a beginner with this tactic, start with just one day a month. Learn as much as possible.
After you got the hang of things, you can start adding days or evening going for a no-spending week. If you're comfortable with it, you can start doing this challenge monthly.
It works. If this isn't one of the best budgeting hacks out there, I don't know what to call it.
18. Save for something specific using a wine bottle
A little unorthodox, but I love this idea and obviously had to include it in these budgeting hacks.
Save money by putting it in a wine bottle. It’ll keep your hands off your savings since you’ll need to break it to get access to your money.
When you’ve earned what you need, you get the satisfaction of smashing the wine bottle open. How fun is that?!
What can you save up for that can help your financial well-being? Start an emergency fund!
In fact, if you were to save $1,000 to start an emergency fund, you’d be better off than two-thirds of Americans who struggle to scourge up that much.
The Practical Saver Pro Tip
Goals are meant to be followed. Create goals that are attainable or realistic.
19. Write down everything
One of my most effective budgeting hacks is to write down everything.
No matter how big or small, write down all your expenses daily, especially your discretionary spending.
Let’s say you have $100 in your budget each week to use as you please. You might be tempted to spend more than that if you’re not keeping track.
By tracking your discretionary spending on a daily basis, you can cut back and save money right away.
20. Give yourself a lot of grace
According to Dave Ramsey, it can take up to three or four months to get a handle on the whole budgeting thing. You’re not going to be perfect the first time or second.
Be patient and continue trying. You’ll get there!If budgeting were easy, then, a lot of people would have a working budget already.
The truth is:
Learning how to stick to a budget is a trial and error. You'll find that when you think you're budget is working, you'll soon find out that something will mess it up.
That's why you need to tweak your budget as you go, if necessary, but stick with it as much as possible.
21. Step back from your budget
One the most effective frugal hacks people tend to overlook is to step back and breathe from your budget.
You’re budget shouldn’t rule your life. A budget is a tool to help you get your spending under control.
So the biggest piece of advice on how to stick to a budget I can provide is to step back and evaluate your priorities and make adjustments if things feel like they’re getting out of control.
How To Stick To A Budget
Along the lines of budgeting hacks is learning how to stick to a budget. After all, frugal hacks are those that can help you be in line with your budget no matter what the situation is (for the most part).
Here are some budgeting tips and tricks to help you learn to be laser-focus on your budget:
1. Use coupons effectively
Just because you can buy a lot of discounted items or even get free items using coupons doesn't mean you need to buy things left and right.
Remember that even if the items are for free, you still have to pay taxes (for the most part) on them.
So, what's the solution?
Only buy the things you need. Don't get cat foods (even when they are free) when you don't have cats to begin with. Learn how to coupon effectively here.
In addition, be sure to use best coupon apps that can even help you make money (yes, you can make money from buying grocery items).
Here are these apps:
- Ibotta: Get cash back on specific purchases you make. Combine it with Checkout51, and you're most likely to make money from your groceries. See my Ibotta review here.
- Shopkick: Get rewarded right away for stepping into the store. Earn extra by scanning specific products.
- Swagbucks: Earn points redeemable for free gift cards and cash when you do your grocery shopping online. See my Swagbucks review here.
2. Leave your credit cards at home
No kidding on that.
One of the most eye-opening financial hacks to save money is to not use credit cards when you don't need to.
Granted there are exceptions like using them when you can get cashback. But other than that, don't use them when you can't pay bills (or the full due amount) in time.
This is to help you avoid incurring more debt and interests.
3. Separate your wants and needs
There's always a fineline between wants and needs especially when you're used to splurging on buying things here and there.
Figure out what your wants are and what your needs are.
Needs are things you can't live without like shelter and food. Wants are things you can live without like sports cars and eat out.
When you're on a tight budget or want to learn how to keep a budget strict, you need to focus on what's important first and what's not.
4. Track your spending with an app
If you want to know how to stick to a budget, use an app.
While it's a great idea (and you need) to budget and check your expenses and income against your budget, you don't or won't always have time to track your spending day after day.
That said, you can always use an app or two to help you track your expenses.
These apps allow you to see what you spend on in real time. They're the kind of apps that can be handy for those spenders and who wonder where all of their money has gone.
The Practical Saver Pro Tip
Sticking to a budget is hard (at times). But when it works, you'll feel that you've accomplished a lot. So, hang out and stick to it no matter what the situation may be.
5. Find alternative stores to get what you need
How do you make yourself stick to a budget?
That's a good. The right answer should be buy going to stores like thrift stores, closeout retail shops, and discounted stores like online dollar stores to get what you need.
Dollar stores, for example, sells just about anything you can find at big stores like Walmart and Target for a fraction of a cost, that is, for a dollar plus tax.
You can go to thrift stores to get super-discounted, used products.
Going to these stores is one of the financial hacks to save money.
6. Stick to your grocery (no matter what the case may be)
Grocery shopping is an easy way to blow up your budget.
It's easy to pick up things on one aisle to another. But that's not the way to stick to your budget.
Stick to your grocery list no matter what the situation may be. There may be promotions going on, clearance for things you've always wanted to buy, etc. But stick to what you have on your list.
7. Give yourself an allowance
Don't be hard on yourself. Sticking to a budget is one thing. But forcing yourself into going into one that's absolutely unexecutable is another thing.
Make sure to give yourself an allowance and your budget as well.
Take time to breathe from your budget, and make sure you put a buffer on your budget, too. For example, you can add 5% buffer just in case something comes up that you didn't plan in the first place.
It's one of those financial hacks to save money that people don't pay attention to.
8. Focus not only on price but also on durability
Cheap price is one thing but durability is another when it comes to buying things.
You don't want to spend a dollar on a shirt that can only last for a week vice spending $5 for a shirt that will last for a year.
This is one of the budgeting hacks that works all the time.
Sometimes, it's best to pay extra to get a more durable product that can last longer.
Sure, you may need to spend as little as possible but not to the expense of spending money time and time again because the product you bought (and need) fails all the time.
Best Budgeting Hacks: Final Thoughts
You don’t have to be budgeting for years (or even months!) to see results. In fact, many times, you’ll see significant savings in just a couple of weeks.
While budgeting does take a little effort upfront, with these hacks you’ll be saving money in no time!
What are your favorite budgeting hacks? Did we miss any of your favorites?