Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
I am no money-master by any means, but there are certain things I try to do to save money on my tight "artist" budget.
In this post I will highlight some of the ways that I try not to let my money fly away the day after I get my paycheck.
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So, you're drowning in debt, you have a day job just to pay the bills, and your savings account is basically nonexistent.
Welcome to the wonderful world we now live in, where a huge amount of debt is common to have by the age of 18...
Let me give you some info about myself: I am in a small amount of credit card debt (just one card, thank goodness), a medium amount of college debt (in comparison to some others that I know), and I work as a barista during the morning and daytime to pay my bills, but to also allow myself the time to have the evenings for rehearsals and other projects.
In short, I am really tired from all the projects that I have going on, but hey, I'm happy.
And not completely drowning...
But here are some of the things I do to try to save money on my tight budget!
Try to only buy the groceries you honestly will eat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but food waste is a huge issue, and there's nothing worse than throwing away that giant vat of apple butter that you got on sale because you just couldn't eat it in time, or you forgot was there because of all the other food that you had in your fridge...
Try to buy veggies and fruits in season. Seriously, those in season are significantly cheaper than the raspberries and strawberries you get in the dead of winter!
Cook at home more with those groceries you just bought. Here's a common scenario: We get inspired to cook something awesome, go out and buy the groceries on top of some other staple items, get home, and not end up cooking said meal. This definitely has happened to me a number of times... But when I make these yummy meals, it prevents me from spending additional money on delivery, and then later throwing away those groceries that I was so inspired to buy. If you eat out a lot, maybe consider some home cooked meals every now and then!
I *try* to put 20% of every paycheck (even the smallest amount from one gig) into my savings account. When I made my move from LA to STL, I implemented this rule and saved nearly 3K in less than 9 months... which really helped during the month and a half in STL when I was jobless. But there are some paychecks when I really need every last penny, so sometimes it doesn't happen.
Save the $5 bills you get. Weird, right? But, wow this adds up FAST! I read about this somewhere, decided to try it because I got a lot of cash tips, and I think there was a period of two weeks where I saved $200 or so... I definitely need to be doing this again! So if you pay with a $20, and you get $15 in change all in fives, you bet you'll be saving those fivers.
If there's an option to go to a free event, then sign me up! The nice thing about STL is that it's suuuper affordable and a lot of the attractions are FREE! You don't have to cut out going out and being social because you're trying to save money. Look up what your city has to offer. And sometimes the best nights are the ones where I'm sitting by the fire with some friends, drinking some wine (that I had already), and just talking, laughing, catching up.
Purchase high-quality, nontoxic clothing. Okay, so this probably sounds like the opposite of what you should be doing, but think long-term: those fast-fashion pieces you get for $10 are in your trash after 10 or so wears, and they are probably riddled with a bunch of harmful flame-retardant chemicals that are banned in many countries due to health hazards. If you buy pieces you LOVE and you take care of them, they will last so much longer, and you'll end up spending less in the long-term.
Get a Roth IRA, especially if you're an artist. I have yet to do this... but my boyfriend was gifted one by his brother, and he puts $15 a week in his. Hey, any amount that you're saving is better than none! Now, I can't tell you the specifics of a Roth IRA, but in terms of retirement as an artist, they are some of the best savings funds to have.
This is not a common money-saving list, I know, but these are things I try to adhere to so that I can save my money on things like travel, unexpected expenses, meaningful gifts for the holidays and more.
We can't deny that we have bills to pay, but we shouldn't be ripping our hair out due to the stress of lack of dough. If you're really in an extremely difficult situation I highly suggest you read All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi.
This book isn't meant for those who already have lots of money. It's meant for those who think that they cannot save because there is no wiggle room within their paychecks. Many of us are in this situation, and it can be overwhelming at times. I've had so many moments where I call Tyler up to cry about my finances, but this hasn't happened in a while, and I think it's because I've gotten to a place where I don't feel like I am drowning anymore.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions! I love hearing from all of you.
With love and sincerity,