Saving money and sticking to a budget is hard. When your paycheck barely covers the necessities a little creativity can help you find every penny. These are a few of the things that only those on a tight budget will understand.

Napkins and tissue are a luxury.

If there’s a big spill, stay away from mom’s precious paper towels. Use a rag because those paper towels are actually plates and dinner napkins. And soft Kleenex is for rich people, toilet paper works just as well.

Eating out means buying food off the dollar menu.

Dollar menus are lifesavers when you find yourself in need of quick food. Applebee’s and Olive Garden are too fancy for the likes of you.

You window shop for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Regular priced fruit and vegetables are out of the question. How can blueberries and asparagus be so expensive? They might as well be caviar. Steer the kids towards the seasonal items, buy things in the frozen aisle or hit up the local farmer’s markets. They get the nutrition they need without the price tag.

You can’t buy everything you want at Dollar Tree.

Sure everything is a dollar, but you can still overspend. You can’t return things there so you will be stuck with all your impulse buys. Things you should buy at Dollar Tree are pregnancy tests, gift bags, party supplies and cards.

You serve creative meals based on what you find in the pantry.

A carbohydrate, a protein, and a veggie make a complete meal. Even the government counts ketchup as a vegetable. You could still be eating a mayonnaise sandwich with relish even after attempting to create budget-friendly meals. How about crackers, beans, and lettuce? I would be remiss not to mention the less odd but forever budget-friendly items of rice and beans, Mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and Ramen noodles. 


You can’t go to a friend’s house because you don’t have enough gas.

Gas is for official business only! You can’t just drive all over the place willy-nilly. You need a clear plan and multiple stops so you can squeeze every last drop out of your tank.

You have paid for your groceries with change.

Ignore the groans from the patrons behind you. Your “couch money” is just as good as theirs even if it’s all in coins. Use the self check-out lines in the evenings when it isn’t as busy and feed the change in without inconveniencing a cashier.

You leave a diaper on your child because “it isn’t wet enough yet.”

If your baby has a sensitive bottom you may make the opposite decision and let them run around in their birthday suit to save a diaper or two. I’m not advocating that you leave a completely saturated diaper on your baby. That can lead to infection and rash which will cost a lot more money in the long run. 

You know store brand items are just as good as name brands.

Many products are made in the same factory on the same day but placed in different packaging. The only difference in the off-brand products is the price. Aldi is our favorite place to go for store brand, delicious foods at an incredible price. Pro tip: Don’t buy that sushi in the refrigerated aisle, some things are definitely worth paying for. 

You measure the value of things by determining the number of hours you worked to buy it.

The worth of things like toys, electronics or groceries can easily be determined when compared to the amount of work you will suffer in order to own it. Will you really work an entire day for those brand new shoes? How about two hours for that steak? It really puts things in perspective when you are paid by the hour.


Be ruthless and don’t let the little ones convince you to buy things that aren’t necessities. You’ll be proud when Christmas comes around and you have a little money in savings and shiny packages under the tree. Happy budgeting!