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20 Creative Ways to Save Money on a Limited Income

Author Audrey Hunt shares novel and easy tips for saving money on a limited income.

Savings can add up in a hurry, regardless of how small the amount.

Savings can add up in a hurry, regardless of how small the amount.

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.

— Bob Hope

20 Easy Tips for Building Your Savings

Many of us live on a limited income. But we can still save money, even if it's just a few dollars.

Sometimes it takes some adjusting to our lifestyle. College students, baby boomers, unemployed people, seniors on a fixed income, and hard-working teens can begin to implement these 20 ways to save:

  1. Reduce or stop the Starbucks urge. Make your coffee at home and use a thermos.
  2. Fix that dripping faucet to save water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 60 drips a minute will waste about 6,428 gallons of water per year.
  3. Brown, bag your lunch instead of going out to eat at work.
  4. Barter. Save your cash and exchange services or items instead.
  5. Use CFL or LED light bulbs. Initially, it may cost a few cents more than regular bulbs, but you will save money over some time, and you will be saving energy.
  6. Sell your books on or Make sure you include shipping charges and packaging when deciding how much to charge.
  7. Check out your local library. You can find DVDs to your liking as well as books. It's all free.
  8. Yard sales offer all kinds of treasures, clothes, and items galore. Always bargain. Never pay the total price.
  9. Save water if you have an older toilet by placing a plastic bottle full of water and a few pebbles into your tank.
  10. To get the "good stuff" when shopping at a thrift store, go to one in a wealthier area. Donations are usually local. Most gifts come in over the weekend, so it makes brilliant sense to shop early in the week.
  11. Save on printer ink by using Century Gothic Font. You will be using approximately one-third less than industry-standard Arial.
  12. Take a shorter shower. You not only save money but also save your skin from drying out.
  13. Unplug the computer and appliances when not in use.
  14. Use those coupons. Please keep them in a special envelope and take them with you whenever you go out. Maybe you are just going out to fill up the tank with gas, but you may decide to quickly run into the supermarket for that "one" item and find that you have the very coupon you need. Check out the site www.mygrocerydeals for comparing prices in supermarkets. This a free site, but you must register to use it.
  15. Join Freecycle in your area. It may be listed as "" It's an excellent resource for finding all kinds of things you need, such as TVs, bedding, clothing, books, bikes, etc. You may also donate items. It's a free and functional website that I have used for years.
  16. Enjoy your favorite concert, play, or musical by becoming a volunteer as an usher.
  17. Boil water in the microwave instead of using an electric stove. You can save up to 60% on energy, which adds up.
  18. To save on gift-giving, make your gift one of service. For a couple with a baby, offer to give them a night out by babysitting. Offer to wash a car or organize a closet. Perhaps a back or foot massage would be welcomed. During holidays, you might offer to wrap gifts.
  19. Buy generic brands of items that you use regularly. The ingredients are the same as regular brands, and you will save money on the generic.
  20. Grow your fruits and vegetables. Plant your garden early enough so that you have plenty of fruits and vegetables to can for the winter.

Start with just two or three money-saving tips, adding more a little at a time. If you're the aggressive type, then go for it and incorporate all 20.

You'll be surprised how these money-saving tips will add up. Begin now and make it a habit. Start using these 20 terrific ways to save money even if your income is not limited.

The "Three-Day Rule" for Compulsive Spending

It goes like this: We see something we must have. Even though we don't need the item or can't reasonably afford it, we buy it. For a brief moment, we het "High" on our purchase. But then we begin to feel "buyer's remorse."

You may want to try the "three-day rule.":

  • Wait three days when you spot something you can't possibly live without.
  • On the third day, visit the item.
  • If you still feel the same and want it desperately, go ahead and make the purchase.

About 75% of the time, you'll decide the item isn't worth the money or you didn't want it that bad.

Then, the money that would have been spent goes into your savings instead.

Using marbles for repurposing: Marbles make great fillers for small holes in fences or gates.

Using marbles for repurposing: Marbles make great fillers for small holes in fences or gates.

Repurpose What You Already Have

Repurposing items around the house is another way to add cash to your savings:

  • Toilet paper roll. To organize cables and cords, wrap them the same length as the toilet paper roll and insert them. Works great.
  • Ketchup bottles. Don't toss that empty ketchup bottle. Reuse it for pouring pancake batter.
  • Marbles. Pick up a bag of marbles at the dollar store and fill holes in the fence.
  • Tissue boxes. Use an empty tissue box as a bag dispenser.
  • Cupcake trays. These make a convenient jewelry organizer.
  • Large soda bag. Fill an empty cottage cheese container with one cup of soda. Poke a hole in the lid of the container and keep the soda in the refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh. Clean stubborn spots on pots and pans, which is much cheaper than buying other cleaners.


Minimizing is an important step to saving money. And clutter takes up your mental and physical space. Consider minimizing your life.

  • Do you really need three sets of dish wear?
  • You can only wear one pair of jeans at a time.
  • What about all those books gathering dust? If you haven't read them within a year, think about donating them to your local library.

You'll notice that you're more focused as you begin to minimize. Keep what is of value to you, and get rid of the rest.

Too many people spend money they earned . . . to buy things they don’t want . . . to impress people that they don’t like.

— The words of the great Will Rogers

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Audrey Hunt


Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 20, 2014:


Thanks. Appreciate your comments.

Paula Atwell

You have my permission to keep your Starbucks run :)

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on September 07, 2014:

You have a great list of tips here. I can't give up my Starbucks run though because it is really one of my only indulgences and I think I deserve it. We do a lot of what you have on this page though. :)

Missy from The Midwest on September 06, 2014:

Interesting tip about the printer ink. I've never heard that one before.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 06, 2014:


So happy to hear you found a few ideas for saving some money. Two things I really like are a good bargain and tips for saving a few dollars. Thanks Dianna.

Hello AudreyHowitt

Hope all is well with you. Freecycle is the best thing to come along since baked bread. Thanks.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 06, 2014:

Such great advice Audrey! I love Freecycle!

Dianna Mendez on September 06, 2014:

We are all about saving money in our home and I see some new ideas here to add to our way of living. This is an excellent post for all readers.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 21, 2012:

Jools - My gosh, just look at you! Repairing your own oven. I am beyond impressed. I would love to be able to repair my oven if it needed fixing. You have been on a mission my friend! With all the research you're doing on saving money, you must write a hub about it. We all need help with that and it's so exciting to find different ways to economize. Thanks Jools!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 04, 2012:

SueSwan - Love your tips about adding a sweater in the winter to cut the AC and being careful about using too much in the summer. My ceiling fans help with that. Taking your lunch to work is healthy as well as saving money. Great advice!

Audrey (my songbird) - Wish I would have practiced all the fun ways to save money a long long time ago. I could have afforded to publish my book by now:)

carozy from San Francisco on October 18, 2012:

I always have an eye out for great money saving tips. You have some good ones in here!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 18, 2012:

I gave up cable TV (wrote a Hub about that). I got tired of paying to watch stupid commercials, now I just use my Roki box. I also gave up the daily newspaper which I never had time to read. I already do most of the things you mention here: coupons, free cycle, etc.

Great Hub. I voted it UP, etc. and will share.

Jordanwalker39 from NC on October 18, 2012:

Very interesting hub. Very useful. Thank you.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on October 18, 2012:

Great tips for saving money! We've also become more diligent about tuning off lights and unplugging electronics when we go away- it makes a difference! Love FreeCycle, too!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on October 18, 2012:

Hi Audrey, back for another read. I am scouring the internet for money saving tips today. I am discovering charity shops now for clothes, some real bargains to be had! I also saved my hubby and I quite a lot of money last week - our oven broke but I looked it up on the internet and followed suggestions to fix it myself. I had to send for a spare part but it only cost about $50; getting an electrician out to fix it would have cost double . I am learning to save money now because I am more 'switched on' with my spending.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 10, 2012:

josh3418 - Thanks for being here and leaving your comment. I love the up vote and great ratings. I needed that:)

Yvette - Wow, you have said it all. And kneeling in prayer each day gives clarity to our position as well as humility. Thank you so much!

Jools - I have come to find my new way of life rather exciting. I now love a good bargain like the new crisp white shirt I found at Goodwill. The tags are still on it. Originally it sold for 125 bucks. Yours truly picked it up for $5. Not bad, huh?

Free2writ3 from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania on September 05, 2012:

Thanks for this hub...I really appreciate these useful ideas.

carol stanley from Arizona on July 29, 2012:

All excellent ideas..we just have to do them..thanks for sharing.

Audrey Howitt from California on July 29, 2012:

Useful and interesting hub Audrey! Lots of great ideas!

Sueswan on July 29, 2012:

Hi Audrey,

Great tips on saving money. The little things make a difference.

I bring my lunch to work but I do eat out too.

Another way to save money is not to have the air conditioning going full blast all the time in the summer. Also turn the heat down in the winter and put on a sweater.

Voted up and awesome

Have a good day. :)

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on July 29, 2012:

Audrey, I left my job on 20th July so I will soon be living a more frugal life - there is some great advice here. I would be happy to wear second hand clothes, change my font (great idea!), use generic bands etc. Any way to save money will do me fine.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 29, 2012:

Thank you rusticliving for sharing your story on switching to LED's. That really does pay off doesn't it? Clipping coupons also makes a big difference in saving, especially at the supermarket. Good girl! Thanks so much.

tammyswallow - I was surprised myself to find that using gothic font was a good way to save. Who'd a thought? Thanks for being here tammy. Always a pleasure to have your company:)

YvetteParker from AUGUSTA, GA on June 22, 2012:

Great tips! I have definitely learned how to never say never. You are right, these times are humbling while drawing us into a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father as the Provider of all our needs!

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on June 22, 2012:

Vocal these are some awesome tips, thank you very much for sharing! Voted up, useful, and awesome, and shared!

Ov Overo from Oklahoma on April 09, 2012:

Please don't laugh when I say I read this hub and it feels like spanish in my head.. Funny enough I don't speak spanish.. It is quite interesting.. Maybe after I read it once or twice again.. I could understand properly.. But I must confess.. Interesting and very insightful ideas

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on April 07, 2012:

Awesome and interesting! These are some great ideas. What a wonderful hub! My favorite idea is having a swapping party. Barter here there and everywhere, nice!

Tammy from North Carolina on February 06, 2012:

These are fabulous and creative ideas. I didn't know about the gothic font. This is so helpful! Voting up.

Liz Rayen from California on February 03, 2012:

VC- Those are some great ideas. We have changed out all our lights to LED. They may cost a little more, but the savings in light bills are amazing. There was a special story this past Christmas on People who decorated their homes for the Holidays and used 10,000 or more lights. There was this couple who switched to all LED lights and claimed that their elevtric bill went from being $595 a month down to $89 and they could connect all their LEDs on one circuit. Not too shabby.

I also clip coupons. They actually do work if done properly! Great Hub. Voted up!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 14, 2011:

Victoria - You are my kind of person! And I will read all of your hubs on saving money. You have added some good suggestions and paying your house off 23 yrs early is amazing! And, so are you!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on November 13, 2011:

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting. I didn't know about using the Gothic font to save money! Cool! I do most of the other things, though. I don't eat out, I don't shop except for necessities, I do the lighting and toilet water saving tricks, etc.... I buy nice clothes at yard sales--for work, even. I get coupons for my pet food and litter. Etc, etc... I hope to have my mortgage paid off about 23 years early! haha Check out some of my money-saving hubs, if you've a mind to. Great hub here.

MyFavoriteBedding from United States on August 30, 2011:

It is amazing how fast all of the little things ad up. I remember watching Oprah one day, and there was a lady on there that was an avid saver, and one of the things she did was she kept everything in her house unplugged unless she was using it, even the tvs! I wish I could remember how much she saved, but I know it was an unbelievable amount. Great, informative hub, thank you!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 04, 2010:

Matt - What great tips you have so generously shared with me. Makes all the sense in the world. (sense-no pun intended :-)I can not thank you enough for giving me this information. Now, I am eager to read your hubs and learn more from you. You are an amazing person. I thank you and appreciate you very much.

Matt on September 02, 2010:

hi there, what an experience you have up there. if you want to make money in hubpages or other online platform you have to write about a product or service.

choose a good niche, let say you write about 'vacu vin pineapple slicer'. this slicer is a product, good quality, and importantly most sought after plus few people write about it.

so people who look for this pineapple slicer would eventually land in your site/hub via google and given it is a good product these people would buy (and you make money).

if you write about tips (you give free tips!) people would read. but would people buy anything? (And then would you make any much needed money?)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 02, 2010:

Purplepassion1 - Wish we could go thrifting together. And yes, finding an item with new tags still on makes me feel like I have struck gold. I tried to find you on HP - you aren't here. Darn! :-)

Joanne Lombardo from Prescott AZ on September 02, 2010:

Gothic font, who knew; I am a convert. I love thrift stores; especially when the new tags are still on the clothes.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 14, 2010:

Benjimester - Good point on the barter system in action.

Let's do away with the almighty buck! Thanks again for all of your wonderful comments. I sure like you! :-)

Benji Mester from San Diego, California on August 14, 2010:

I feel you on your first tip. I'm a Starbucks junkie sometimes. And I like that you advocate the barter system. I'd really love to see an in depth barter system in action.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 10, 2010:

ddiamond - Thanks for your comment. I look forward to checking into your hubs. You and I are both inviting ways to be frugal. Good for us!

ddiamond on August 09, 2010:

Great tips! I'm always looking for ideas on how to live frugally.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 08, 2010:

Ok LadyWriter - I will give you this one. :-) Why is it that the tea seems to taste better when the water is boiled on the stove? Thanks for commenting. Excuse me, I need to boil some water for my tea.

LadyWriter from UK on August 08, 2010:

Useful tips, I try to do most of them but won't be boiling water in the microvave anytime soon, I don't think you can be a tea drinker, my Mum does it and it results in the most rank cuppa imaginable - yuk!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 04, 2010:

Dear PegCole17 - Love your skip the soda suggestion. $1.75 adds up after a few trips to a fast food place. Thanks for your contribution and your comments. Looking forward to reading your hubs.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 04, 2010:

I like the fact that you discovered the joy of reusing and recycling along with the cost savings.

Reducing the $ splurge for Starbucks coffee will help a lot. So will brown bagging it. Great suggestions.

One way to start a savings account: when you eat at a fast food place, skip the soda and put that $1.75 into a jar at home every time you do. The money you gather will surprise you. You can have a soda at home for about 25 cents.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 04, 2010:

Bob - Thank you for mentioning the volunteer information. That is great information for readers. Congratulations for finishing your 10th year as an usher for the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. You must be very good on the tennis court. Long ago, I knew a boy when I was in High School who excelled in tennis. I have loved the game ever since. Thank you for your encouraging comments. Appreciate your taking time out to visit.

Bob McSpadden on August 04, 2010:

Great article. I give it two thumbs up. Iespecially like the one about using the library for entertainment.Myother favorite is volunteer ushering. I just finished my 10th year as volunteer usher for th Indian Wells Tennis Garden and am looking forward to 10 more. Keep up the good writing.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 03, 2010:

crazybeamrider - I thank you for leaving your comment. I know that saving coupons is a big pain. It took me a long time to "get into it". I have saved a great deal when shopping by using coupons and have found relunctly that it does pay off. I am looking forward to reading and rating more of your great hubs.

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on August 03, 2010:

I really like all of these tip saving ideas. The font one is really one I want to try. I print a lot of stuff, so that will be great if it saves me ink. I half heartedly save coupons, but reading your hub i think I will try harder. Definitely rated up!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 02, 2010:

lisabeaman - I will have to check out "coupon sense". Thanks for the tip - sounds like something I can use.

Thank you for taking time to comment.

lisabeaman from Phoenix, AZ on August 02, 2010:

Thanks for all of the great tips! You have a lot of good ideas. I also use something called Coupon Sense. It's a website that helps you organize your coupons so that you use them when the stores have sales. The site costs money, but I make it up in savings. The service isn't offered everywhere though.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 31, 2010:

You have been a hero of mine since becoming a member of hubpages recently. I appreciate your comments. You always say the right thing. I appreciate you so much. Thanks!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on July 31, 2010:

I appreciate your helpful insights and tips to save money. I always do all that work on the coupons and then forget to use them... UGH it's like I have a deep rooted resentment to using coupons... lol, Thanks for the tips I feel empowered to do better!

Springboard from Wisconsin on July 28, 2010:

Frugalist. Hmm. Kind of does have a nice ring to it, no?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 27, 2010:

Thanks springboard - enjoyed your comments and happy to welcome another fellow frugalist ( is that a word?) :-)

It came as a surprise to me too that changing the font could help me save a few cents as well. It all adds up!

Springboard from Wisconsin on July 27, 2010:

Not in a million years would I ever have thought that the font I used could save me money. Being ever the frugal one myself, this is welcome news—any way I can get nickels out of pennies, that's my aim.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 25, 2010:

randy - so glad you liked the tip about using gothic font. Appreciate your comment. Thanks so much.

randy on July 25, 2010:

Great Ideas. I love the century gothic font idea, my computer goes through a lot of ink. I can't wait to try that one!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 23, 2010:

Stephanie - Good for you! I love that you make sure the lights are not on in the rooms you are not using. Great way to conserve energy and lower your electric bill too.

Thanks for your comments.

stephanie o from Pacifica, CA on July 20, 2010:


You've written a great hub!! You really outlined some great tips... especially about the light bulbs and the faucet. I always make sure the lights are out when I'm not home or in a room, and my faucet doesn't leak, but I never knew how much money those two things waste!!!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 20, 2010:

Yes, with the economy in such a stressful state, (and it appears it is not going to get better anytime soon), saving a little here and there will help us all get through this together. Thanks for commenting. Appreciate it masmasika!

masmasika on July 20, 2010:

I love these tips. We really need tips on saving because of the economic crisis. Great hub.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 19, 2010:

suny51 - I am happy that you liked these tips. I have found that the extra money I save really adds up. Thank you for your comment.

suny51 on July 17, 2010:

Hi vocalcoach,

you have very important and useful tips those are worth following.Thank you so much

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 16, 2010:

Thank you yellowstar2000. I recently was in shock when my water bill doubled and then some. Found out that a leaking toilet was the culprit. Very eye-opening.

Candice Collins from WestCoast Florida on July 16, 2010:

super ideas here! thanks for all the great tips and suggestions; I never knew that 60 drips a minute will waste about 6,428 gallons of water per year! wow!!!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 15, 2010:

prasetio - I appreciate your comments on my hub and thank you. I enjoy your hubs as well, especially the one on Rainbows. The photos were so beautiful.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 15, 2010:

Hello, Hello - Glad you enjoyed reading through these tips. Thanks for stopping by.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 15, 2010:

Billy - Thanks for the reminder to check the ingredients on generic drugs. Appreciate it!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 14, 2010:

I can't say anything. These all good tips. I am glad to follow your tips to save money. I have practiced some of them. But the rest was incredible. Good job, my friend. I vote this up.


Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 14, 2010:

Thank you for these wonderful, helpful advices.

billyaustindillon on July 13, 2010:

Some great tips here - generic is one of the huge ones - particularly for drugs - headache pills like walgreens versus advil say and definitely for food - just make sure you check those ingredients.