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If you’re struggling to get a proper handle on your finances, know that you’re not alone. Whether you’re just looking for a few new budgeting tips or to totally transform your approach to spending and saving, you’re in the right place.
Making more money is great, but most people can make huge savings on their spending by simply learning how to budget better. From savvy saving tricks to learning how to track your expenses, spend wiser and plan out frugal treats, learning how to budget doesn’t have to be hard.
This list of 55 budgeting tips for different stages of life will help you learn how to budget, embrace frugal living, and could end up saving you thousands in the long run.Try any of these ideas to implement frugal living naturally into your lifestyle – in no time, budgeting will feel like an old habit!
Let’s dive in.
LEARN TO BUDGET BETTER:
Budgeting tips for complete beginners
If you’re a complete newbie to saving money and budgeting, simply knowing where to start can feel like the hardest part. The following section focuses on a series of simple but highly effective budgeting tips perfect for beginners to personal finance.
1. Save first, spend later
If you aren’t in the habit of saving and budgeting your money, it can be difficult to fathom how you’ll ever be able to set money aside from your existing income. Set stricter budget boundaries is a good place to start.
Pay yourself first, before anything else. That means, the day you get paid, transfer a set amount to your savings before you even have a chance to miss it. Rather than spending all your money and being thankful for what you have leftover as ‘savings’, save first. Set a realistic amount (whether that’s 5% of your income, a set amount…whatever is workable for you), and you could even set up a direct debit so that payment is automatic.
2. Start cultivating frugal habits
Frugal living isn’t just about spending less – it’s about spending smarter. Learning how to be frugal can help you clearly prioritize why you want to get better at budgeting and what you want your lifestyle to actually look like.
Being frugal can have a lot of different meanings. You could start looking into ways to re-use items around the home (such as re-purposing glass jars) or reduce the amount of waste your household produces. You could get savvy with your grocery shopping and buy in bulk. Or you could simply use the ethos of frugal living to male small, intentional life changes that help you budget better.
3. Set some measurable financial goals
Budgeting your money can feel boring if there’s no real point to it. Of course, having money aside for a rainy day is always helpful – but why are you actually prioritizing saving in this way?
Set some goals for yourself. You could be hoping to set enough aside for a house deposit, or perhaps you’ve got something big on the horizon like planning for a family, a dream wedding, or a big move abroad.
Maybe you just want to be able to afford some nice things for yourself. Or have less debts hanging over your head. That’s perfectly fine. Consider what you would like to do with more savings in your life, and set some goals that reflect that.
4. Budget for the life you actually want
On the same vein, one of the best ways to stay on track with your budget is to make sure that the sacrifices you’re making now are actually helping you work towards a life you really want.
No one is saying you should live on the bare essentials and put all your money away just because. Maybe retiring early doesn’t appeal to you, or maybe you’ve just got a great job with a good salary and you want to be able the perks for a while. Or maybe, on the flip side, you have a set goal in mind and you’d rather make some extreme sacrifices in your budget now to get there quicker.
Assess how much you want to put aside, and what you’re working towards. Budgeting is on your terms.
5. Use technology to your advantage
These days, there are a huge variety of apps available to make budgeting easier. Some just show you a clear breakdown of your income vs expenses and help track your budget, while others will actively help you save money on subscriptions and bills you might be over-paying for.
A selection of great apps for budgeting we’ve reviewed include:
6. Tackle your biggest wallet drains first
Do you have any idea what the biggest drains on your wallet are? Knowledge is power! When starting out with your budget, tackle your biggest wallet drains.
A few key offenders for many people include:
- Eating and drinking out
- Unnecessary subscriptions (e.g. gym)
7. Build up your emergency fund
Accidents can happen at any time. Your car could breakdown and need expensive replacements, you boiler could break, a window could smash…this list goes on! What do you do when an unexpected expense crops up in your life?
Avoid going into debt by building up an emergency fund now that provides a buffer for incidents as well as bigger costs like holidays.
8. Put your savings out of reach
Don’t keep your savings in the same account that you spend out of. Open a designated savings account (which should be free) to transfer your savings to, and if you get a debit card to go with it, put it away somewhere safe. This will deter you from spending your savings on a whim – having to transfer savings out can be enough to give you pause on what you’re doing.
9. Focus on getting out of debt
It can be easy to get into debt. You might have gone into your over-draft and never really got out. You might have paid for a car or a big expense on your credit card and still be paying it off years later. You might have so much student debt racked up that it feels like you’ll never pay it off.
Before you can start really building up your savings, paying off your debt first should be your main priority. Work out what you can afford to pay back each month, set a goal, and get it under control so you can start saving money for your future.
10. Bring some awareness to your spending
Are you aware, really, of what you spend your money on every month? Have you ever tracked your expenses? When we bring a little awareness to our spending, it can be shocking how much money is wasted on spontaneous and frivilous spending.
Whether you use an app or a spreadsheet to actively track your spending, or simply make an effort to be more aware every time you get your wallet out, being aware of how you use your money can be a fantastic trigger for identifying what easy budget fixes you can make.
Budgeting tips for couples
Whether you and your partner are simply trying to spend less money, or are saving up for a much bigger joint couple, tackling your finances as a team can be difficult at first. These tips will help you approach your budget from one unified front.
11. Budget for dates
Who said frugal couples have to say goodbye to romance? There are many wonderful budget date ideas that are as much fun (if not more!) as dates that cost money, and a great way to work towards your savings goals as a couple while still being able to enjoy quality time together.
12. Consider tracking your budget together
If you and your partner live together or are saving for a shared goal such as buying a home, it may be a good idea to consider tracking your budget together to ensure you’re both on track.
There are a number of apps that can help you do this, or if you’d prefer to keep your finances mostly separate, you could consider setting up a joint account to put savings into each month.
13. Encourage conversations about your spending
One of the most simple but most effective things you could do to improve your budget as a couple is to talk more openly about money. It can feel awkward and even embarrassing at first to talk about finances with your other half, but it’s essential if you want to be working towards your future goals together as a team.
Budgeting tips for singletons
Being single comes with it’s upsides and downsides when you’re trying to save money. On the one hand, you’re completely in charge of your money and how you spend it, but on the downside, having just one income for all your bills and responsibilities can be a heavy burden. These tips will teach you to stay in control of your finances when single.
14. Be frugal with your home bills
Living alone means shouldering 100% of the responsibility for rent, bills, and other daily costs. The upside, of course, is that you don’t have to share your home with anyone and you can live your dishes in the sink as long as you want!
Saving money when you live alone can be difficult, and involves some careful planning when it comes to choosing your utility provider, internet package, and other bills. Make sure you shop around on a regular basis to ensure you’re consistently getting the best deal.
15. Budget for your future
When you’re single, you have the luxury of being able to be selfish in the best possible way. You can treat yourself, spend your money how you want, and you don’t need to consider a partner or promises you’ve made to them in your financial planning.
However, that independence is best used to budget now for your future. Create good budget habits, put savings away every month, and build up your funds now for whatever the future holds – buying your own home, going travelling, or whatever else may be on the horizon.
16. Shop smart
When you’re shopping for one, you can either be savvy with your spending, or end up with a lot of waste.
In terms of food, you need to be careful about your weekly shop. If you don’t eat the food you buy, no one else will, so go in with a plan. Make a grocery list, plan your meals in advance, and focus on only buying perishable foods that you’ll actually eat and use up throughout the week.
Budgeting tips for families
Being the head of a household can be difficult – you have a lot more outgoings and need to keep your money in order while keeping your family fed and happy. You may find the following tips for families on a budget useful.
17. Try no-spend weekends
No spend weekends are the perfect solution for anyone who finds their budget goes out the window once the weekend swings around. There is plenty of fun and frugal activities for a no-spend weekend that will entertain kids and parents alike. If it goes down well, try for two no spend weekends next month!
18. Start saving early
It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s future. The more time you have to save, the more potential for growth you have. You could consider opening a high-interest savings account for your child if you’re not planning on touching the savings for some time.
19. Take advantage of deals, discounts, and freebies
From early bird offers from restaurants to free entry at attractions for children under a certain age, there are lots of discounts on offer to families that can make a real difference to your budget.
The key here is planning – before you take any trip or decide do have a family outing, op online and see what latest offers you can find.
20. Use second hand
Thanks to the accessibility of Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and other second-hand selling platforms, it’s easier than ever to find some amazing deals on second-hand items that are still in great condition.
Anyone with kids will know how quickly they grow out of things, or how easier it is for something to get dirty or damaged, you saving money on a second-hand item rather than buying the full price can be a big budgeting win.
Budgeting tips for travel
Travel doesn’t have to be the luxury of those with expendable incomes – it’s possible to travel on a budget, even if you stay in the country and only head down the road. Whether you’re planning a series of adventures backpacking across the globe or looking for a two-week relaxing vacation, these tips for budget travel should come in handy.
21. Save money on accommodation
Aside from flights, accommodation is almost always the biggest expense when it comes to travelling. It’s important to keep in mind that you want to achieve a good balance between budget accommodation and quality – sometimes the cheapest option is that low for a good reason (or rather, a bad one!).
Consider using Airbnb to find great deals on apartments, rooms, and villas when you’re next away.
22. Eat like the locals do
Another great tip for saving money when you’re travelling is to avoid the over-priced and often poor-quality tourist trap restaurants and instead, eat as the locals do. Of course, that can vary depending on where you are.
Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has been $1 fare from a street food stall served in plastic bowls and eaten on tiny plastic stools (Chiang Mai, Thailand!). Not only is this simple tip a great way to make your budget for travel go much further, but it’ll also present opportunities to try amazing local cuisine you wouldn’t normally encounter in the tourist areas.
23. Get off the beaten path
Travel is expensive when you follow the crowds. And sure, the crowds are sometimes there for a reason – but the world is a big place waiting to be explored, and one of the biggest advantages of getting off the beaten path to less travelled areas is that they don’t come with the high price tag attached.
Why not hop onto SkyScanner and search for cheap flights from your area. Pick the first place you see, even if you’ve never heard of it before. Plan your trip and see what you can discover off the tourist trail.
24. Avoid fees
One of the biggest avoidable fees many travellers encounter are international transfer fees when spending money abroad. Using your bank card can often seem like the most convenient option – but it’s rarely the cheapest.
Use a third party money transfer operator to convert your money into the foreign currency you need – most have options to send money in the form of a cash pickup or to a mobile wallet, and charge considerably lower transfer fees and exchange rate margins.
Budgeting tips for being your own boss
Being your own boss throws up a number of financial challenges, and the instability of owning your own business certainly isn’t for everyone. I’ve been self-employed for over four years now, and learned a lot in that time.
Keep your finances in order and your money well under control with the following ideas:
25. starting a side hustle
For some people, saving money in your existing budget will only go so far. There comes a point where you start looking for ways to generate more income, and a side hustle is often the place to start.
The reality is that most people will work on a side hustle for several months without making anything back. It’s the people that make smart moves and, most importantly, keep going that actually see results.
Before diving into the first side hustle that sounds good, think carefully about your aims. Are you a more creative type who might do well selling your creations online? Are you technically savvy and interested in starting a website to generate income via ads, affiliate marketing, or even selling your own products? Maybe you’ve got a stockpile of clothes and accessories you could sell online?
Use your existing strengths to your advantage.
26. Budget for your taxes
When you’re self-employed, the responsibility to pay your taxes on time is all yours. That means that whatever you make each month, you need to set aside the correct amount for your tax bill.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your gross monthly income is your real income, only to be hit with a big tax bill that you don’t actually have the cash to pay. I’ve been self-employed since 2017 and learnt a lot in that time – and one of the most valuable lessons has been to have my own ‘tax’ savings account that I pay into every month and do not touch under any circumstances. The quicker you stop thinking of that money as yours, the better.
27. Invest sensibly
To build your business, you have to invest in your business. That’s true no matter how big or small, old or new your business is. However, to be able to sensibly budget for your business, you need to take your income into account.
If you’re still in the side hustle stage and lucky if you make one sale, what is the single best investment you could make? Does it have to be money, or could you invest more time into your business, into expanding your skills, or growing your presence online?
Invest in your business, but ensure those investments are in line with your budget. It can be easy to think that one course will completely transform the growth of your business and that may be true – but you need to make sure you can afford it and that investing more money is the right decision at the right time.
28. Build your foundation
One of the best lessons I learned in the course of becoming my own boss was to build my foundation before I did anything else. If you have a stable income and are looking to increase your budget by starting a side hustle, use that stability to build the foundations of your business before taking any risks.
29. look ahead
Plan for your business’s future, just like you’re planning your finances for your future. Set out any likely investments or expenses in your budget so you can put savings aside accordingly (remember to track expenses for your tax assessment), and create some long-term goals for the financial future of your business.
30. Keep track of outgoings and income
Any who has their own business will know that monthly income looks very different to the set monthly paycheck you receive from an employer at a regular job. You’ll rarely earn the same amount each month, and rarely be paid on the same day. More likely, your income will trickle in throughout the month from various sources – and the same for your business expenses.
Keeping track of your income and expenses is important for filing your taxes, but also so you can budget effectively and begin to scale your business as it grows. QuickBooks is a helpful tool for tracking these things.
Budgeting for food
Food bills are often one of the biggest money drains for people trying to get their budget together. The odd takeaway here, a meal out there, plus ingredients thrown away because they don’t get used in time, and you’re quickly wasting a lot more money than necessary. These tips are useful for getting more organised with your approach to food shopping and planning.
31. Meal prep
Meal prep is hands-down one of the most effective ways to save money on your food bill. It enables you to buy less ingredients, save time, and prioritize healthier, nutritious meals for you and your family.
There’s a lot to say about meal prep, and a lot of different ways to make it work for you and your budget – this complete guide to meal prep is one of the best ways to get started.
32. Have a handful of go-to frugal meals
What is a frugal meal, exactly? It’s a meal that uses cheap, minimal ingredients to create a complete, nutritious, and balanced meal. Having a handful of go-to frugal meals that you love to cook can be a great way of saving money on your food budget without having to sacrifice the food you love to eat.
33. Consider a more frugal diet
Perhaps a more controversial approach, but would you consider a more frugal diet in order to save money on your food budget? For example, some ‘frugal’ diets could include:
- Cutting out alcohol
- Cutting out sugar from your diet
- Going plant-based
- Eating a ‘mininmalist diet‘
- Growing your own fruits and vegetables
34. Set aside a budget each month
Another simple but effective tip when it comes to budgeting for your food: set a clear budget each month. Make sure it’s realistic based on the size of your family and how much you typically eat in a day, but be willing to make sacrifices and substitutions.
You may want to consider meals out in this food budget, in which case you’ll need to take into account how often you visit restaurants, get takeaways, or buy lunch out.
Budgeting Tips for a healthier lifestyle
Budgeting doesn’t have to mean giving up your lifestyle. You can still make healthy choices for your mind and body while being sensible with your money – that’s what the following tips focus on.
35. Cultivate a minimalist mindset
A minimalist mindset can be extremely helpful in saving more money. It helps you find your real values and priorities in life, and shape your lifestyle around those things.
That means less distractions and spontaneous spending, less money and time spent on things that don’t really compliment the life you want, and a more mindful approach to how you use your money.
36. Budgeting as an eco-warrior
Nowadays, not everyone feels comfortable scrimping and saving with no consideration for the planet and our environment. For many, making conscious choices that align with our morals is equally as important.
So, is it possible to live on a budget and still be eco-conscious? Absolutely! This post on being eco-friendly while still saving money has some helpful tips.
37. Exercise on the cheap
Exercise doesn’t need to be reserved for people willing to splurge on a monthly membership. Check out these free exercises that have been invaluable to me when living a healthy lifestyle on a budget. These activities can be done from anywhere and are perfect for the budget-conscious fitness enthusiast!
Budgeting tips for the holidays
The holidays may be an exciting time of year, but for many, it’s a time of heightened stress and money worries in the effort to ‘keep up’ with those around you. These budgeting tips focus on including the holidays into your everyday savings plans so you don’t get caught out.
38. Saving money at Christmas
Christmas can be one of the most expensive times of the year for some families, with many people dreading the day and going into debt to afford gifts for others instead of really focusing on what Christmas is all about: spending time with the ones you love.
Doing Christmas on a budget doesn’t have to mean going without – it just means flipping your perspective on what’s important, what’s essential, and what’s not.
39. Make your own gifts
Making your own gifts for holidays and birthdays can be a thoughful way of showing your friends and family how much you care without needing to break the bank. A few DIY gifts featured here previously include:
- How To Make Your Own Christmas Gin Gifts
- DIY Macrame Wall Hanging For Beginners
- How To Propagate House Plants (For Unlimited Free Plants!)
- How To Make A Chunky Knit Blanket
40. Save throughout the year
The best way to budget for the holidays is to factor them into your budget throughout the year. Put a little aside each month to create a savings pot for those bigger occasions without suddenly panicking or even going into debt when you’ve only got a month to get organised.
This 52-week money saving challenge is a good way to get used to saving each month for a bigger goal.
Budgeting for getting out of debt
Debt can be a complex and sensitive subject. When you have a lot of debt to your name, it can feel impossible to rid yourself of that burden and start managing your money on your own terms. This section focuses on realistic, practical ways you can get out of debt.
41. set a realistic timeline
If you have debt hanging over your head, one of the best things you can do to feel in control of your finances again is to set up a debt repayment plan. You could use a chart or a spreadsheet to do this, setting up a realistic repayment plan that aims to fully pay off your debt by a certain date.
42. Prioritize your debts
Before you can really dive into the benefits of saving money by budgeting, you should first prioritize getting out of debt – especially if you have high-interest debts such as credit card bills.
Think of paying off your debt as getting back to zero. Once you’re there, every change you make in your budget, every move you make to increase your income, goes straight into your own pocket.
Budgeting tips for big expenses
There are always going to be big expenses that need factoring into your budget at some point or another. Whether that’s a wedding, a trip abroad, buying a house or a new car, or something else entirely, this section focuses on budgeting tips for big expenses.
43. Start early
Start budgeting for big expenses are early as you can. The more time you give yourself, the less pressure and the easier it will be to build up your savings in a manageable way. Using a time frame here can be a really useful way of clearly identifying how much you need to save, and by when.
44. Re-adjust your budget
Re-adjust your budget accordingly for bigger expenses. You may already have a steady budget in place that enables you to save comfortably without making any major sacrifices on your lifestyle, but that may need to change if you have a major event on the horizon.
Look at your budget and find ways you can save more money and make your budget stretch that bit more.
45. Use lists
If you’re planning a big event like a wedding, it can quickly get overwhelming trying to factor in all of the things you need to factor in. Make lists for your friends!
Create lists for everything you need to achieve, a time-frame for those tasks, likely expenses, and what help/additional resources you might need. Organisation goes hand-in-hand with a good budget plan.
46. Factor in the little things
When planning a big event, it can be easy to focus on the major costs. However, don’t forget to factor in the little things, too.
These smaller costs can quickly add up and create a big dent in your budget, so factoring them in from square one is a smart move.
Budgeting tips for having a baby
Congratulations! This section is particularly poignant for me because at the time of writing, I’m eight months pregnant with my first child – and budgeting for baby has been a huge focus for me recently!
47. Use the 9-months to your advantage
Nine months doesn’t seem like a lot of time to prepare for bringing a new life into the world, but in fact, it’s a fair amount of time to get your finances in order. Use those nine months to sort out your current budget by:
- Addressing any unnecessary or unused subscriptions to make some easy savings
- Consider switching utility providers and looking at your internet package to see if you can save money there
- Re-assess your home/car/life insurance to make sure it’s valid and that you’re getting the best deal possible
- Assess any other money drains that you might be able to fix
48. Research what benefits you are entitled to
What benefits you are entitled to once you have your baby and on maternity leave will differ depending on where you are from, your current income, and your household circumstances, so it’s useful to do your research and check what applies to you.
49. Say yes to hand-me-downs
Baby’s don’t need a lot to get by really, but it can quickly feel like you’re paying a fortune even for those essential items!
Don’t be too proud to say no to offers of hand-me-downs from friends and family with older children, or to look on Facebook Marketplace for good deals on second-hand items. Having a baby means accepting that people want to buy you things – it can feel weird and wrong saying yes, but now is the time to thank people for their kindness and accept help where it’s offered.
50. Save on maternity clothes
There are some maternity clothes that genuinely make life that bit more comfortable when you’re pregnant (and let’s face it, we’ll take every bit of comfort we can find when carrying a human!), and others that may be a bigger waste of money than adding real value.
Throughout my pregnancy, my staple has been maternity leggings that go above the bump. I live in them. However, I’ve managed to get by perfectly fine wearing my more over-sized sweatshirts and t-shirts, or sometimes paired a long vest with a top tied above the bump.
Of course, if you tend to put on more weight during pregnancy or have a bigger bump, you may need to invest in a few key maternity pieces – but don’t be fooled into thinking you need an entirely new wardrobe!
51. Look for deals, discounts, and bundles
When stocking up on baby essentials, keep an eye out for deals and discounts offered by retailers. Many major brands will have sales and offers that will help you make a lot of savings on those essential purchases, so take your time and start looking early to find the best deal.
52. Plan your maternity leave budget
I started planning my maternity leave budget almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant – being self-employed, I knew I’d be relying on my savings as a safety net in addition to Maternity Allowance (a benefit self-employed mothers are entitled to for up to 39 weeks) so I could have the time
Managing your finances more effectively starts with your mindset. This section looks at how your attitude can affect your approach to budgeting and saving money.
53. Develop some minimalist habits
Minimalism is as much about self-care as it is about your possessions. Make sure you’re taking care of your mental clutter as much as your physical environment to create more mindful habits for your finances as well as your life in general.
54. Write down your goals
Making the choice to read this article and to actively work towards improving how to manage your money is already a great start.
One of the most effective budgeting tips you could put into practice is to clearly layout your financial goals. For example:
- Why do you want to start budgeting?
- What’s your current relationship with money and how would you like to improve this?
- What would you do with more savings?
- How would you like your finances to improve in the next year?
55. Remember to live, too
Along the way, don’t forget to have fun and live a little, too. Money should be used to fund the life that you love, and if you’re spending day after day locked at home because you’re so focused on saving that you’re forgetting to actually enjoy life, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate things.
For even more posts on budgets & saving, click here and get inspired to start your frugal journey.