Living Well on a Budget
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12 Tips For Living Well on a Budget

It takes conscious work and persistence to live well on a tight budget and sustainably too. From avoiding plastic packaging to reducing energy consumption, finding new ways to go and stay green can be very appealing. Budgeting saves you money, but living on a tight budget is a hard task for many people.

With a few good tips and the right attitude, living on a tight budget can be enjoyable even with your sparing lifestyle. Buying sustainably and saving money are often pitted against one another, but you can afford to go green and save money doing so.

Tips on how to live well on a tight budget

1. Save before spending

You’ll find saving important when living on a budget. Many financial institutions provide helpful savings offers. As of 2017, 69% of adults around the world have access to banking2. Using accounts carefully helps them stay within their budget, accumulate savings, and save spending for necessities. People that live on a tight budget should have a savings plan that helps them reduce their spending. What does this mean? 

When you get your paycheck, a set amount or percentage should go into a savings bank account before you spend a single penny. This will help you work with the rest of your money, get the most out of it, and allow you to build emergency funds that you can access when needed.

2. Work with your partner

Couples on a tight budget should work together and look for ways to maximize their money. A family budget will help you reduce monthly expenses and use your combined income more efficiently. 

For this to work, there must be a high level of agreement, if not totally, towards any budgeting system you two have chosen so that working together won't be a challenge. There should be open and honest communication between you and your partner. When something is not working, or one of you is going off track with their spending, the other can speak up openly about it in a calm and proactive conversation having a reactive argument. It is unhealthy to have only one person handle the finances, which may eventually lead to a financial struggle.

3. Drive less

Walk More and Drive Less Save Money
Photo by Timothy Perry on Unsplash

Studies show that globally transportation contributes 24% of direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion, and road vehicles produce three-quarters of this transport emission. 

Driving cannot be averted totally, but as an individual living on a budget, it will not only save you money when you drive less, but you are also saving the ecosystem from harmful emissions of CO2 and enhancing sustainable living.

For people who live in cities with good public transportation systems and networks, owning a car may prove even more expensive than going on public transport. At the same time, people who do not depend on public transport can still minimize driving by walking more or biking, especially to places nearby. This will help you reduce your spending per month and save money. It is a huge step towards living on a budget.

4. Reuse when possible

When discussing tips for living on a tight budget, reducing and reusing items is a priority. When seeking to make your money go as far as possible, only consider anything disposable or single-use must when alternatives do not exist.

Disposable or single-use items consume more money than reusable products. The cost of buying it every time you want to use it is alarming. Instead of disposable straws, buy a pack of reusable silicone straws.

While shopping, you can go with your reusable bag instead of always buying a plastic bag. Further, reusable kitchen fabrics can help you stop the continuous thrashing of kitchen paper towels, and biodegradable waste bags are preferable to the plastic bag for your dogs' poop that eventually finds its way to the ocean or landfill. 

Have a browse of your favorite online thrift store when it comes to a wardrobe refresh or when looking for a new essential item. Today, many are stocked full of items that have been barely worn, from designer brands to staples. And what’s more, a reused fashion find is only a click away and can save a bundle of cash.

The list of reusable products can go on and on, and these products are pretty accessible to just anyone. Apply a few of these changes to your budget and see their impact on your savings every month or annually. You can finally stop swiping your credit cards and make use of gift cards instead. 

Going for reusable products is not only effective in saving money but also in saving the planet. Most of these disposable plastics or single-use items either end up in landfill or oceans. Study shows that of the 5800 million tonnes of primary plastic no longer in use, we’ve only recycled 9% since 19501. Save more money and save the planet by reusing as much as you can.

5. Cut down your utility bills

Utility bills are paid per month, especially the ones paid at home. They have a way of affecting the savings account of anyone living on a tight budget because these bills are almost inevitable. But, with critical evaluation, one can minimize the use of these utilities and cut back on expenses.

Paying electrical bills can be very worrisome; anyone planning on saving money should be cautious about using electrical appliances like air conditioners, electric bulbs, washing machines, water heaters, etc. You should turn off electric bulbs during the day or when not in use. You should use air conditioners in energy-efficient settings. You can also do cold washing manually. Minimizing the use of these utilities will save you a lot of money in many ways and reduce your contribution of carbon to the ecosystem due to the heat emitted from running this appliance, thereby enhancing sustainability.

Read More: 7 Ways to Save Electricity at Home

6. Grow a fruit and vegetable garden

An easy way to practice living on a tight budget is simply growing a garden full of seasonal fruit and vegetables. This way, you can live well and stay healthy on a tight budget with money-saving in mind.

Many people who own a garden plant crops like lettuce and tomatoes. Growing your own food and veg also saves you from the pesticides and chemicals food from the food stores comes with, which many of us react to. It is also a good idea to grow your own when going green as it is eco-friendly. Foods bought from grocery stores travel an average of 1500+ food miles before consumption. This affects the freshness of the food and affects the ecosystem because of the fossil fuels and carbon emissions emitted. By growing your food, you also reduce the waste and spending that comes with food packaging.

Grow your own fruit and veg
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

7. Get rid of excess credit cards

Credit card companies are constantly pushing offers to anyone who will listen. While the allure of extra money to spend might draw you in, avoid buying into their tales. You should keep your credit card debt to a minimum. And as much as possible, work to pay off your debt each month. Avoid collecting credit cards you don’t need. Instead, use your credit card the right way- to build a good credit score.   

8. Make your own food

Eating is an essential part of human life, and when we have to eat, it’s easy sometimes not to care where we source our food, be it fast food or homemade.

One of the ways to save money and make sure you stay healthy is to make homemade food. Living on a tight budget and practicing sustainable living by cooking homemade meals helps prevent plastic waste from a great deal of mass-produced food packaging.

It also reduces your carbon footprint since you are not driving to the store for ready-made meals as often. Making your own food is eco-friendly and healthier because you make sure that the food-making process is hygienic and safe from harmful and cancerous chemicals.

You can also compost your food waste to fertilize your veg patch. This way, you won’t need to buy fertilizer, and what’s more, your veg will grow healthier and stronger. 

9. Buy from farmer’s markets instead of supermarkets

Many people think that food bought from supermarkets is cheaper than in farmers' markets, but that is not always the case. Most times, the farmers' market is more affordable and healthier. Yes, healthier because the chemicals used in preserving these food items have not been applied yet. These chemicals emitted into the environment during application cause pollution that can affect the environment and human life. You can practice living on a tight budget and going green while making your grocery list; take it to the farmers' market for fresher and healthier choices.

A study found that, on average, grocery stores are 10-20 percent more expensive than farmers' markets. 

Deciding to shop from the farmers' market will reduce your carbon footprint and help you get to support local businesses. Further, this will help you commit to not spending money on anything other than essential food items and because you are buying food as close to the source as possible. The absence of a middleman makes direct-to-consumer pricing cheaper than the food store. 

Farmers do not want to go back to the farm empty, so they prefer to sell cheaper and faster. This is another factor that affects the price of food, so as a consumer, you’ll find you can save, and some local markets offer discounts at the end of the day for even better deals on fresh food. 

10. Eliminate toxins 

Typical household cleaners found on the shelves are not only toxic but also wasteful. However, you can engage in homemade cleaners that are cost-effective. You can make homemade cleaning products from cheap and accessible ingredients you can find at home, like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.

With a tight budget, you can make your natural, nontoxic concentrated cleaner at home, and you can reuse the glass bottles you put them in. This way, you can ensure you are not contributing to the plastic bottles in the landfill. If you want to save money and reduce too much spending while reducing waste and avoiding dangerous chemicals, make your own easy and less expensive household cleaners. And if you feel like you can't do this at home, you can opt-out for non-toxic cleaners that come in cardboard cartons or glass.

11. Learn to DIY

Learn to DIY
Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

One part of saving money that never goes out of style is doing projects by yourself. Even while living on a budget, most times, we want to get one new thing or another. A new pair of jeans, a new dining table, new shoes, and lots more. But the cost can be an issue when you are living on a budget. Whether you need some new furniture, art, home renovations, or landscaping, and if you are willing to do it yourself, you can avoid paying big chunks of cash.

If you are creative, most of these DIY projects will turn out well, and you won’t have to spend a lot. 

12. Cut out unnecessary subscriptions

You can live on a tight budget, with the intention of money-saving and managing your money. First, make sure that you cut off auto subscriptions that accumulate bills for you on your credit cards. Credit card debt can readily accumulate with auto subscriptions like cable, gym membership, software applications, etc.

As a result, it makes saving difficult and destabilizes finances. Cable subscriptions do not only waste money but time and energy. If you're not always at home to watch due to work, you can limit the subscription to your off days or when you are on leave.

Exercise is good, but it is ideal to cancel your gym membership and do your workouts at home if your finances are tight. This way, you save enough money to take care of other things.


There you have it. This article on how to live on a tight budget will help you choose ways that increase your savings, reduce your debts, and help you spend money. Now you know a little more about budgeting. Still, more importantly, you understand that while living comfortably has a lot to do with managing your money, living sustainably is essential too.

1Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law, Science Advances 19 Jul 2017: Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782

The World Bank Group. (2017). The global findex database 2017.

By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
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