udgeting hacks. They’re among the most important things you can do to keep your finances on track. Yet many people shy away from them because they believe they are hard to follow.
Believe it or not:
That simply is not true.
Budgeting can be easy if you know the very basics of it.
In this post, I'll share the top hacks to save you money right away with budgeting:
- How chump change can become thousands easily
- How to make a budget that works month after month
- How to cut your bills for good even without lifting a single finger
If you are interested in learning these budgeting hacks plus some more, read on!
There are more in store for you.
20 Best Budgeting Hacks To Save You Money Now
There is no shortcut to budgeting. 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 20 best budgeting hacks you’ll ever need to save money now.
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 make a monthly budget.
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. If you’re still not convinced a budget is a right move, take a read of this recent blog post.
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.
Set Up an Automatic Savings Plan
One of the biggest budgeting hacks 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.
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 scrounge up $1000 fastest (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%.
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 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 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.
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.
If you’re looking to pay down credit cards debt faster, then you should check out Tally and SoFi.
Tally will help consolidate all your high-interest credit card debt into one, lower interest rate balance. Save time and money. Try Tally now.
Another good way is to consolidate your debt using a personal loan from SoFi, which offers unbelievably low interest rates. Click here to start using SoFi.
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 favorite meal planning 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!
Save Your Change
Making those dollars and cents count is next on our list of budget hacks. 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.
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!
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.
Paribus is a great secret refund site to add to your arsenal of budgeting hacks
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.
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!
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.
Every Month is Different
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.
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.
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 another good budgeting hack is to use your credit cards for good spending, not wasteful spending.
For example, let’s say you have a credit card with 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.
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.
Try an Online 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.
Try a No-Spend Day or Week
A no-spending day or week is exactly what it sounds like, putting a pause on spending.
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. After you got the hang of things, you can start adding days or evening going for a no-spending week.
It works. If this isn't one of the best budgeting hacks out there, I don't know what to call it.
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.
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.
Give Yourself Lots 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!
Step Back From Your Budget
A little budget motivation: 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.
In summary …
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 up front, with these hacks you’ll be saving money in no time!
What are your favorite budgeting hacks? Did we miss any of your favorites?