Month: March 2020

  • Is it Better to Pay Off Debt or Save Money First?

    One of the questions I am asked most often is whether it’s better to pay off debt or save money first. And honestly, it wasn’t all that long ago that I was the one struggling with this dilemma. 

    When I was working to rebuild my finances, I read article after article that told said things like:

    • “Put all of your disposable income toward debt!”
    • “Build an emergency fund to fund 3-6 months of bills!”
    • “Max out your 401(k) and your Roth IRA!”

    As someone who was living paycheck to paycheck, I was crushed. How the hell was I supposed to do any of those things (let alone all three of them) when I could barely pay my bills every month? 

    Because of the amount of anxiety I had around this question, it honestly comes as no surprise that so many people are also struggling with it. 

    In this post, I’m answering that age-old question we’ve all had at one point or another. Which should you do first: pay off debt or save money?


    Is It Better to Pay Off Debt or Save Money First?

    There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.


    Remember, it’s not one or the other

    First things first, you don’t have to choose between just saving money or just paying off debt. You can do BOTH. 

    I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. In fact, I can guarantee you it’s going to be tough. 

    The first thing you’re going to need to do is to take stock of where you’re at. First, take some time to figure out exactly how much debt you have. It sounds obvious, but I know far too many people who just blindly make their minimum payments every month without really paying attention to how much they owe. 

    My favorite tool to gather all of my debt information in one place is This tool allows you to add and manage all of your debt accounts, among other functions that we’ll cover later on.

    The other thing you need to consider is your life situation. How much money do you have coming in? How much money do you have in savings? What are your monthly expenses? All of these factors will help you choose between prioritizing saving money or paying off debt.


    Start by building your emergency fund

    Regardless of whether you have debt and how much debt you have, building your emergency fund should be your very first goal. How much you actually need in your emergency fund comes down to your comfort level, among other life factors. 

    To figure out how much of an emergency fund you need, really think carefully about where you are in your life and what you need out of an emergency fund.

    Today my husband and I both bring in income (I’m self-employed, and he has a good job). Because we share expenses, I know that if I were to lose all of my freelance income tomorrow, we’d be able to get by for a while on his income. 

    But just a few years ago, it was a very different story. A few years ago, I was single, living alone, and barely making ends meet. If I had lost my job during that time, it would have immediately been an emergency.

    Your life situation will tell you a lot about how much money you should have in savings. If you’ve got kids or are a one-income family, you’ll need a lot more of a cushion. 

    Alright, so how much should you save in your emergency fund?

    Dave Ramsey recommends putting $1,000 in your emergency fund before you aggressively pay off debt. I highly recommend more than that. There are plenty of house or car repairs that cost more than $1,000 on their own. And what about job loss? For most of us, $1,000 isn’t even enough to get by for one month. 

    As I said, how much you should actually save depends entirely on your lifestyle. I’m pretty risk-averse, so I would shoot for a minimum of a few thousand dollars. 

    Another thing to remember is that your emergency fund and your debt are totally intertwined. Nearly half of families don’t have enough to cover a $400 emergency. So when those emergencies do inevitably pop up, those families are going further into debt to pay for them.

    Having an emergency fund doesn’t prevent you from paying off your debt — It helps to avoid debt!

    Read More: How to Build an Emergency Fund & How Much You Should Save


    Take advantage of an employer 401(k) match

    Just like there’s a bare minimum for what you should save for your emergency fund, I also think there’s a minimum for what you should save for retirement.

    Listen, I know how hard it is to care about retirement when you’re in your early twenties. I was lucky enough to get a job out of college that had mandatory pension contributions, so I didn’t have the opportunity to opt-out. And let me tell you, I’m so grateful that was the case. 

    If you start saving for retirement in your forties, it’s going to seem overwhelming. If you start saving in your twenties, it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier and more painless.

    When it comes to saving for retirement, the most important factor you should look at first is whether your employer offers a match on your 401(k). If they do, take advantage of it. This is literally free money. Try to contribute as much as they’ll match. 

    If you can do more than that, that’s great. But if you’ve got a lot of debt to tackle, I would hit your employer match and then turn your attention to the debt. 


    Make a plan to pay off your debt

    If you’re going to prioritize paying off your debt, you need to have a plan in place. And no, making the minimum payment on all of your debts every month doesn’t count as having a plan.

    As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, my husband and I got married with six figures of debt (around $150,000 to be more specific). 

    Had we continued to make all of our minimum payments every month, we would have been paying off that debt for practically the rest of our lives. And after putting a plan in place to pay it off faster? We moved that timeline up by decades. 

    As you can see, there’s a pretty big difference there, and it’s all because we made a plan.

    To make our debt payoff plan, we used the tool

    The first thing you’ll do when you sign up for is to add all of your debt accounts. This means consumer debt, car loans, student loans, and any other debt you’re carrying. 

    Next, will prompt you to decide in what order you want to prioritize your debts. Essentially they’re asking if you want to do a debt snowball (where you prioritize the lowest debt amount) or the debt avalanche (where you prioritize the highest interest rates).

    The debt snowball is popular with lots of people working to pay off their debt. I understand, as paying off small debts can give you a lot of motivation. If that’s what you need, go for it. 

    We chose to go with the debt avalanche instead. Because of the amount of debt we have, paying off the high-interest debt first is going to save us tens of thousands of dollars in interest. 

    Once you’ve added all of your debts and have chosen what order you want to tackle them in, is going to ask you how much money you want to put toward debt every month. 

    This part is challenging and totally comes down to what fits within your budget. Try to find a number that is quite a bit more than just your minimum payments but still low enough that you have money to save and money to live a little. 

    I know there are plenty of people who think you shouldn’t spend any fun money until you pay off debt. I 100% don’t fall into that camp. If it’s going to take me years to pay off debt, my husband and I are going to go out to eat and go see our favorite bands while we’re at it. My opinion is that you should still set aside some money for things that bring you joy. 

    Once you’ve got your number, you’re done! At this point, will tell you when you’re scheduled to pay off your debt. You’ll have to go in monthly and manually enter the payments you’ve made. As an alternative, though, you can sync with the budget app You Need a Budget (YNAB), and it will automatically keep up to date with your balances. 


    Make a commitment not to go back into debt

    Paying off debt is glorious. We’ve got a long way to go before we’re debt-free, but even paying off just one debt is an amazing feeling.

    But paying off the debt isn’t enough. 

    For all of this to work, you also have to commit to yourself to never go back into debt (outside of a mortgage). 

    In some cases, this will be easy. Most of us aren’t planning to take on more student loan debt after we pay ours off. 

    But what about credit cards? Can you commit to never putting something on a credit card if you don’t already have the money to pay it off?

    Can you commit to saving up to purchase cars in cash rather than taking out a loan? 

    After paying on my car loan for years, I was determined that we’d purchase our next car in cash. It might not be the nicest car, but it feels pretty darn good not to be making payments on it. 


    Once the debt is gone, go all-in on saving

    When you get to this point, you’ve done the following:

    • Build an emergency fund
    • Put enough into your 401(k) to get your employer match
    • Paid off all of your debt (YAY!)

    For many people, it’s probably tempting to spend that extra money. It’s like getting a huge raise, right? And while I totally agree that becoming debt-free means you can start using some of that money on wants instead of needs. 

    But this is also the time to up your savings game in a big way. 

    First, this means building a hefty job-loss fund for yourself. Aim for six months of expenses in case you and/or your spouse lose your jobs. 

    Now that you have more disposable income, you can also start putting more into your retirement account. The younger you start saving for retirement, the more you can take advantage of that compound interest! 


    Final Thoughts

    I know so many people stress out about whether they should be saving first or paying off debt. I struggled with this dilemma for years. 

    The good news is that you can do BOTH.

    It is possible to save a solid emergency fund to help you out in a tough situation, while also slaying your debt. 

  • The Best Personal Finance Blogs for Women

    I first started reading female personal finance blogs many years ago out of absolute necessity. 

    I had recently gone through a divorce and was pretty much at financial rock bottom. I decided it was time to educate myself, so I started reading personal finance blogs to learn everything I could about managing my money. 

    The blogs I found most helpful were the ones specifically geared toward women. Women have entirely unique financial needs, and I love reading sites that cater to them. 

    Over the past few years, I’ve found so many amazing personal finance blogs. I was even inspired to rebrand my own website into a personal finance blog.

    In this post, I’m sharing some of my absolute favorite female finance blogs to help you take control of your money and reach your financial goals. 


    The Best Personal Finance Blogs for Women


    The Financial Diet

    The Financial Diet is one of the first blogs I found when I started diving into personal finance content. The Financial Diet started as a personal blog years ago, but it’s grown into a daily online magazine sharing personal finance content for women. 

    One of my favorite things about The Financial Diet is that because they have a large crew of writers, you get many different perspectives. 

    Not only does The Financial Diet post daily blog content, but the founder also has a podcast where she interviews influencers and money experts about financial topics. 


    Her First $100K

    Her First $100K is one of the most well-known personal finance blogs on the internet, and its content is primarily aimed at women.

    The creator, Tori Dunlap, saved her first $100k by her mid-twenties and uses her blog to help other women do the same. Along the way, she also shares advice to help women overcome some of the obstacles standing in their way of financial freedom.

    If you want to build wealth while fighting the patriarchy, Her First $100K is the blog for you.


    Mixed Up Money

    Alyssa at Mixed Up Money is one of my favorite personal finance creators. I found her through her Instagram account, but soon started following were blog as well.

    Like many women, Alyssa started her personal finance blog from her own financial journey of paying off debt, increasing her income, and reaching a place where she feels confident with her money.

    On her blog, she shares just about every topic relevant to women and money, including budgeting, saving, investing, career, and more.

    Another thing I love about following Alyssa is that she does weekly polls on her Instagram account so you can see how your peers feel about certain topics and what actions other people are taking with their finances.



    BravelyGo is a personal finance blog created by money coach and online personal finance creator Kara. On her blog, Kara teaches you how to make sustainable money choices that benefit not only you but also the world.

    Kara talks about many personal finance topics for women, including sustainable investing, budgeting, paying off debt, managing money with a partner, and more.

    Kara also has an Instagram account where she does deep dives into relevant events happening in the financial world.


    Making Sense of Cents

    Making Sense of Cents is one of the biggest female personal finance blogs out there. Michelle started the blog years ago as a way to document her own money journey, but it’s turned into a lot more than that. Now it’s one of the most popular blogs out there. 

    One thing I really love about this blog is that despite how much Michelle has grown her site (she makes six figures per month), she still keeps it personal and makes it feel like she’s talking directly to her readers. 

    Not only does Michelle share personal finance advice, but she also helps to teach others to start and grow their own blogs. 


    Clever Girl Finance

    Clever Girl Finance is a personal finance blog for women. The blog was started by Bola, who started the site to share her financial expertise. Bola is a Certified Financial Education Instructor who was able to save six figures in just three years. 

    I love that the information that Bola shares is directed at women, who have entirely unique financial needs. Not only does the site share financial blog posts, but Bola also offers financial courses and a podcast. 



    Rather than being a personal finance blog from someone sharing their money story, HerMoney is a digital media company that shares personal finance content for women. 

    HerMoney was started by Jean Chatzky, someone who spent two decades reporting on finance topics. The site focuses on improving the relationships women have with money. 



    You may know Ellevest as the online investing platform specifically designed for women, but it’s also home to the Ellevest Magazine where you’ll find helpful articles about personal finance.

    Given that Ellevest is an investment platform, many of the articles are about investing. However, they also have articles about other topics in finance, including succeeding in your career.

    One of the things I love most about the Ellevest platform is that it understands that women have unique financial needs, and so it creates tools and articles to address that.


    Stefanie O’Connell

    Stefanie O’Connell has become one of my go-to bloggers for personal finance information specific to women. Stefanie, like so many twenty-somethings, found herself living a life she couldn’t really afford.

    One of the things that most drew me to Stefanie’s website is that she doesn’t teach you how to pinch every penny you can. Instead, she helps women increase their income and manage their money so that they don’t have to sacrifice the lifestyle they want.



    Tonya of MyFabFinance created her personal finance blog because, like so many other women, she knows what it feels like to feel depressed and ashamed about money.

    And because she’s been in a place where she didn’t have control of her finances, she – as a nationally recognized millennial money expert – wants to help other women get out of that place.

    On Tonya’s blog, she talks about many personal finance topics important to women, including entrepreneurship, homebuying, paying off debt, and more.


    The Millennial Money Woman

    Fiona of The Millennial Money Woman shares financial strategies to help you optimize your financial life and move toward financial freedom.

    Fiona has a master’s degree in personal financial planning, which gives plenty of credibility to her content. She shares articles about frugal living, passive income, investing, and more.


    Healthy Rich

    Healthy Rich is a personal finance blog that offers inclusive financial education.

    Unlike other personal finance blogs that just share tactical tips, Dana and Healthy Rich share advice that helps you get in touch with your relationship with your money. She recognizes that without a health relationship with money, it’s impossible to accomplish everything else.

    Healthy Rich address the sometimes-toxic budget culture and teaches women to approach their finances from a place of understanding and grace rather than judgment and purely looking at the numbers.



    One thing I love about female finance blogs is that so many of them share the story of women who were going through a hard time in their lives and were able to turn things around. 

    On Fitnancials, Alexis shares how she turned her life around when she was struggling financially. Alexis teachers her readers about how to manage their money, as well as how to increase their income. 


    Afford Anything

    Afford Anything is a personal finance blog written by a woman who, like so many others, had a desire to ditch her 9-5 job for a life with more freedom. 

    Paula, the writer behind the blog, learned everything she could about personal finance. She learned to save more money while also boosting her income. 

    As someone who recently made the leap from employee to self-employed, Paula’s blog has offered great advice and been a confidence booster when I worried about whether this lifestyle was really possible for me. 


    And Then We Saved

    And Then We Saved is a blog that focuses on helping women to get out of debt fast. Anna started the blog as a way to share her own debt payoff journey and now helps other women with theirs. 

    In addition to sharing blog posts about paying off debt, Anna also has a book and boot camp course both dedicated to the same mission. 

    As someone who’s currently in the middle of a pretty huge debt-free journey, I’ve really appreciated what Anna has to offer! 


    Women Who Money

    Women Who Money is a personal finance blog that was started by women for women. The site was started by two women who reached financial independence and left their full-time jobs to help women with their money.

    This blog focuses on issues that women want to hear about including making career decisions or starting a business, improving your financial situation, and saving for retirement. 


    Financial Best Life

    There are plenty of personal finance experts out there who focus on teaching you to spend less money and pinch your pennies. I always appreciate the ones who focus on helping women to afford the lives they actually want. 

    On her blog Financial Best Life, Lauren teaches women how to control their money, increase their income, and reach their financial goals. 


    Erin Gobler

    The primary goal of this article is to help you discover new personal finance blogs for women. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my own personal finance blog, Erin Gobler.

    My personal finance journey started in 2017 when I found myself divorced and starting from square one financially.

    Since then, I’ve learned everything I could about finance – including getting a certificate in financial planning, paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt, started a freelance writing business, traveled the country, and bought my dream home with my new husband.

    Whether you’re looking for advice on budgeting, saving, investing, growing your income, or improving your relationship with money, you’ll find it here.


    How to start a personal finance blog

    When I first started my blog, I didn’t talk about finance at all. In fact, I didn’t know anything about finance at all. Instead, it’s something I became passionate about after my divorce and began sharing my own money journey.

    Like so many other female personal finance blogs, I’ve found sharing my money journey to be incredibly motivating, as well as a great way to connect with other women going through the same things I am. 

    If you’re considering starting a personal finance blog yourself, I 100% recommend it! Here’s how to get started:

    1. Decide what to blog about. This part can be hard, but you can always change it later! Just think about what topics you’re interested in, and topics that you already know a lot about.

    2. Choose a domain name. Try to choose a domain that matches your niche or your own name. I just use my own name.

    3. Secure your social media handles. You’ll want to make sure that your social media handles match your domain, so grab those ASAP.

    4. Sign up for a hosting plan. If you’re starting your blog in WordPress (which I highly recommend), you’ll have to sign up for hosting. The provider that I recommend and personally use is SiteGround. I’ve never had an issue with them and they have amazing customer service. Plus their plans start at just a few dollars per month.

    5. Install a theme. Your theme is the framework for your blog design. Pretty much all themes are super customizable, so it’s best to just choose one and get started. 


    Final Thoughts

    Reading personal finance blogs has hands-down been one of my favorite ways to learn as much as possible about finance. 

    Not only do personal finance blogs allow you to learn about all things money, but it allows you to do it from so many different perspectives. You really learn that everyone has their own story and challenges to overcome. 

    I hope that some of these blogs can help you to start tackling your own money journey.

  • 17 Foolproof Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

    I know from personal experience that when you’re living on a tight budget, saving money feels damn near impossible. Every dime is going toward paying your bills, and there’s little to nothing left at the end of the month. 

    I was at the point where I had nothing in savings, and every unexpected expense ended up going on a credit card. 

    Eventually, I figured out that even making small changes in my monthly spending could make a huge impact, and I was able to start saving more money than I thought possible. 

    In this post, I’m sharing all of the changes I made to help me actually start saving money and tips that you can start using today to save money on a tight budget. 


    17 Foolproof Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

    There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my full disclosure policy here.


    Pay yourself first

    Regardless of how much extra income you’re able to set aside in savings, you have to take that important step of actually sticking to your savings goals.

    First of all, I always keep my savings in a separate savings account. That way, I don’t have the option of impulsively swiping my debit card to use some of that savings. 

    But the most important thing that I do is to pay myself first — and by myself, I mean my savings account. On the same day every month, I have an automatic transfer to move money from my checking account into my savings account. 

    I do it at the beginning of the month, so I don’t have the opportunity to spend it on something else first. And because it’s automatic, I never have to remind myself to save. 

    You see, I found that for years I always told myself I would save whatever I had left at the end of every month. Yet, at the end of every month, there’d be nothing left to put in savings. 

    Paying your savings account first is the absolute best way to make sure it gets done every month. The rest of the advice on this list doesn’t mean much without this one!

    Read More: How to Pay Yourself First and Finally Start Saving Money


    Review your budget

    If you haven’t reviewed your budget in a while (or you don’t have a budget), now is the time to fix this. It’s easy to set a budget for yourself and forget about it, but you’ve gotta keep reviewing it to make sure it still fits your life. 

    Things change, and people go through different seasons of life. I’ve gone through seasons of life where I was driving a lot for work and had to budget more for gas. I’ve also gone through seasons where I spent little on gas but a lot more on eating out. 

    I do this just about every month. As I’m budgeting out my income for the month, I ask myself whether my current budget really makes the most sense for where I’m at in life right now. If the answer is no, I change it up. 

    I do all of my budgeting in the app You Need a Budget. This app is hands-down the best I’ve used for setting up a budget and actually being able to stick to it.

    Not sure where to get started with your budget? Head over to my guide on starting a monthly budget.


    Save your extra paychecks

    For my entire career in politics, I got paid on the first day of every month. I loved getting paid monthly because I could pay all my bills and budget for the entire month at once. Then I knew right away how much I had for the rest of the month. 

    Then I got married, and my husband gets paid biweekly. At first, it seemed inconvenient — It would have been nice to stick to my once-per-month budget. 

    Then I realized that people who get paid biweekly have two months every year where they get paid three times instead of two — Then I started to come around to it. 

    We plan our budget under the assumption that my husband gets two paychecks per month. So during those lucky months when he gets three, we’re able to send them directly to savings. 

    If you get paid biweekly, take a look at a calendar and figure out what months you’re going to get three paychecks. Then make a plan to save that money or use it to pay off debt!


    Set up sinking funds

    You know those months where everything is going according to plan and your budget is right on track — and then something unexpected pops up? Maybe it’s a medical bill or a car repair you weren’t planning for. 

    Those expenses are the worst because there’s no way to know when they’re coming, and you hate to use your emergency fund for them (especially if you’re just getting yours started). 

    I struggled with this for years, and then I learned about something that seriously changed the game in my budgeting practice. 

    Sinking funds. 

    Sinking funds are when you set aside a certain amount of money every month for expenses you know you’re going to have, but you aren’t sure when. I have sinking funds for irregular spending categories such as medical bills, car maintenance, and pet expenses. 

    I also use a sinking fund for Christmas. Rather than go into a state of panic when November rolls around, and I realize how much money I’m about to drop on Christmas, I put some aside every month so I know we’ll have plenty when Christmas rolls around. 


    Track every dollar you spend

    Have you ever made it to the end of the month and wondered where the heck all your money went? Sometimes we don’t realize just how much we’re spending until we make it to the end of the month and there’s no money left. 

    The single biggest way I was able to get a handle on my spending was to start tracking it. I remember the first time I sat down and figured out how much I was actually spending — I was shocked at how much money was going toward eating out!

    I track all of my spending in my You Need a Budget app. The app connects to my bank accounts and automatically pulls all of my transactions. Before YNAB, I used to just track all of my transactions in an excel spreadsheet, which also worked great! 


    Separate wants vs. needs

    One of the biggest problems run into when cutting their spending is that they aren’t able to separate needs from wants. I’ve been there — I could easily convince myself that eating out was a “need” because, hey, you gotta eat. 

    If you’re really going to cut your spending, you need to get really honest with yourself about what counts as a need and what counts as a want. 


    Try a 50/30/20 budget

    One of the most effective budgeting methods I’ve found, especially for those living on a tight budget, is the 50/30/20 budget

    This budgeting system directs you to spend 50% of your take-home pay on necessities like housing, utilities, transportation, and groceries. 

    The next 30% of your budget goes towards wants — This is anything you want to spend your money on but don’t have to. 

    The final 20% of your budget goes toward debt and savings. This would be expenses like student loans, credit cards, retirement accounts, and your emergency fund. 

    One of the most eye-opening things about using this budget is realizing just how much you’re spending on housing. In parts of the country where housing is expensive, you might have to spend more of your pay on rent or your mortgage. But using this budget might also be a sign it’s time to change your housing situation. 


    Refinance your student loan

    Brandon and I had a lot of student loan debt when we got married — Like, a combined six-figures. Most of that debt was in the form of federal loans with fairly low interest rates. But a bit of it was a private loan with a 14% interest (painful, I know).

    One of the best money decisions we made to help save money every month was to refinance that loan. 

    If you’re shopping for a loan to refinance your student loans, I recommend Credible. You can see rates from more than a dozen different lenders to find the best loan for your situation.

    We were able to go from a rate of more than 14% to less than 5%. That changed alone saved us thousands of dollars in interest. If you have private student loans with a high interest rate, refinancing could do the same for you.


    Analyze your biggest money leaks

    It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all got a money leak or two, which is the splurge item that you tend to spend a bit too much money on. For Brandon and me, those money leaks are food and concert tickets. 

    Once you can identify your money leaks, you can start to address them. For us, this meant making several changes. 

    First, we cut back on eating and drinking out. We also started cooking budget meals at home, and making cocktails at home on the nights we felt tempted to go out. Finally, this meant restricting ourselves to one concert per month. 

    Everyone’s money leaks will look a little different. The key is figuring out what yours are and finding a way to cut down your spending while still allowing yourself the occasional splurge. 


    Rethink your car payment

    Car payments suck. In a perfect world, no one would ever have a payment for their car, and we’d all simply buy cars we can afford. Unfortunately, most of us have been at a point in our lives where that’s not possible.

    When I bought my first car with a car payment, I was married to my first husband. I got the car in the divorce, but I also got the car payment. While I powered through it for a few months, it eventually became clear that I couldn’t keep up with the payment. 

    I refinanced my car loan and ended up with a much lower monthly payment and a lower interest rate, which was a nice perk. 

    Your car payment is a low-hanging fruit way of saving money every month. Whether it’s refinancing your loan or buying a car you can afford without a monthly payment, figure out what works for your life right now. 


    Negotiate your bills

    For most of us, it would never occur to us to try to negotiate our monthly bills. But it turns out that you totally can. 

    There’s even an entire market of apps you can use to negotiate your bills on your behalf. Apps like Truebill, Trim, and Billshark all help you figure out where you’re spending too much money and negotiate lower payments. 


    Cut your utility use

    Your utility bill is one that you can’t get rid of — But there are definitely things you can do to lower it every month. 

    First, consider changing the temperature on your thermostat. If you can stand your house a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter, you can save yourself a heck of a lot of money. We cut our bill in half in the months we don’t regulate the temperature in our apartment!

    You can also reduce your bill by using a programmable thermostat. Turn down the heat or AC while you’re at work, and have it automatically turn back on before you come home. 

    You can also do little things like using energy-efficient utilities and simply using less electricity. 


    Use cash-back apps

    Cash-backs apps aren’t going to get you rich, but they will help you to save a little money here and there. And that’s exactly what you’re working toward when you’re on a tight budget. 

    A few of my favorite cash-back apps are Ibotta and Fetch Rewards, which give you cash back for scanning your grocery receipts. Another favorite is Rakuten, which gives you cash back for online purchases.


    Unfollow and unsubscribe

    Don’t get me wrong – I love Instagram as much as the next person. But I also know that when you see influencers sharing so many gorgeous clothes and products, it can be hard to resist doing a little shopping. 

    Similarly, it can be hard to resist spending money when you get an email from your favorite clothing store saying they’re having a huge sale (which they seem to be having nearly every day).

    If you find yourself having a hard time passing up deals when you see them on Instagram and in your emails, it might be time to unfollow and unsubscribe from anything that convinces you to spend money you don’t have. 


    Tackle high-interest debt

    One of the most frustrating things for me when I started my money journey is that I kept reading finance advice that told me to aggressively pay off debt. 

    If I don’t even have the wiggle room to put money into savings, how on earth am I going to put extra money toward debt?

    Then I started paying attention to how much I was paying being charged in interest every month on my credit cards. And I realized just how right they were. 

    Paying off high-interest debt is one of the best things you can do to put more money in your pocket every month and, more importantly, save you a lot of freaking money in the long run. 

    Trust me, I know how hard it is to put extra money toward debt when you’re just scraping by. But if you do everything else on this list, I promise you’ll have some money to spare!

    Read More: How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Fast


    Avoid unnecessary fees

    A 2019 survey from Chime Bank found that the average American spends $329 per year on banking fees. I don’t know about you, but that sounds wild to me. 

    Those fees include overdraft fees, account fees, fees to redeem rewards, fees to receive paper statements, and fees for account inactivity. 

    Try going through your bank account for the past few months and try to spot any fees your bank has charged you. If you find any, it’s time to either switch banks or change your behavior. 

    If it’s the case that the fees you’re paying are a result of overdraft fees, try to figure out why that’s happening. Is it that you’re not paying attention to your balance or that emergencies are popping up that you have to pay for? What backup plan can you put into place instead of swiping your card when there’s no money in your account?

    If the fees aren’t a result of your behavior and it’s just that you have a fee-happy bank, it’s time to switch banks! There are plenty out there that don’t charge these ridiculous fees. 


    Start a side hustle

    Listen, I can share all the advice in the world about how you can save money every month. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can cut. 

    Rather than relying solely on cutting expenses to help me save more money, my favorite way to do it has been by increasing my income through side hustles. 

    Today I run my business full-time, but for years I worked a full-time job while I worked on my blog and wrote freelance articles on the side. 

    If you’re interested in using a side hustle to increase your income, feel free to check out my list of 11 ways you can make an extra $1,000 per month


    Final Thoughts

    When you’re on a tight budget, saving even the smallest amount seems like an impossible task. Trust me, I’ve been there myself. 

    But since I started going all-in on my personal finance, I’ve learned so many legit ways to save money every month, even when there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the budget. 

    If you’re on a tight budget, I hope you’ll give a few of these tips a shot to help you start putting money away to help you build an emergency fund or pay off debt.