Saving money can seem easy if you are bringing home six figures each year, but how does one save money fast living on a low income?
According to Credit Karma, the average household income in America was $61,937 in 2018. Saving money can be difficult, especially if you are already struggling to pay your bills.
But the good news is… You have options to save money fast, even living on a low income.
The tips below will help you to handle your money in a different way in order to build up your savings.
Pay off all debt
These tips are in no particular order, except for this one.
Hear me when I say, debt is the enemy. And it will continue to be the enemy until it is paid off for good.
You know what they say: “When you are in debt, you are a slave to the lender.”
Debt can be in the form of student loans, credit card debt, car loans, etc. The more money you owe, the harder it will be to save. And I highly recommend not trying to save money if you are paying interest every month.
The goal with this is to pay off all debt, (minus your mortgage if you have one) by tackling it hard and heavy. Some of the tips below will outline how to cut costs… I would recommend cutting your costs down and dumping everything you have leftover after bills into your debt until it is gone.
Also, if you have a ton of student loans or personal loans, you could refinance those debts so that you can save some money on interest.
For example, I once had four different student loans, all with different interest rates. It made sense for me to refinance the four loans into one to only have one interest rate to pay off.
Get into the money mindset
Saving money fast on a low income can be difficult and requires a specific mindset. You will need to start thinking frugally and remind yourself how painful it is living paycheck to paycheck to stay motivated.
In order to become financially stable, there are steps you need to take in order to set yourself up for success. Here are some tips to get yourself into the right money mindset:
Understand that sacrifices will need to be made –
This is a big step because it will take you outside of your comfort zone. You will need to be ok with giving up $5.00 coffees, not buying items just because they are trendy or on sale, or purchasing items that don’t directly serve a purpose in your life.
While cutting costs, it’s important to have the mentality of: If you don’t need it to survive, it is a luxury item and an unnecessary cost.
Discuss expectations with your partner/spouse –
This can be a tough one for some, but it is important to talk with a partner or spouse about financial expectations and spending.
If one partner is on board with cutting costs and the other is not, it could lead to relationship issues and converting back to overspending on both sides. By getting on the same financial page, it will be much easier to work on it together.
Understand that it’s not forever –
There is a lot of negativity around cutting costs and living frugally. One way I personally got past this is understanding that it isn’t going to last forever.
Once your finances are under control and you start seeing some savings, it will be much easier to be flexible with your spending. But for now, let’s get motivated to save some money!
Think like a minimalist –
This is a great tip for getting into the right financial mindset. Thinking like a minimalist will help you realize that you don’t need as much stuff as you think you do.
As I stated earlier, if it does not serve a purpose in your life, you don’t need it.
The world is designed to persuade people that overspending is the “norm”. Credit card companies urge you to spend money that you don’t have on things you don’t need. But financially educating yourself now will create healthy spending habits that will help you for the rest of your life.
Create a vision board –
If you have trouble staying motivated to save money, a helpful tip is to create a vision board! You can do this by cutting out photos, quotes, or goals that will keep you motivated.
Or, you could also create a reward system and reward yourself after you have saved up a certain amount. It will be important to visually check off or fill in a chart after reaching a financial goal so you can keep track of your progress.
Create a budget and monitor spending
Creating a budget and sticking to it is extremely important when trying to save money fast.
Once you know how much money is flowing in and out of your account each month, you can create a budget and figure out how much you need to save in order to reach your goals.
You can also use tools like Billshark to help lower your monthly bills. This will create more room in the budget for extra savings!
Build up multiple streams of income
Having multiple streams of revenue can be a fantastic way to help save money fast. Here are some ideas for building up your monthly income:
Side Hustles –
Trying out different side hustles is my absolute favorite way of making some extra money each month. You can write and publish an eBook, start a blog, or start an eBay business.
Here is a list of my favorite side hustles you can start from home.
Survey Sites –
Taking surveys each month will not make you wealthy by any means, but it is a good way to make an extra few hundred dollars here and there. Survey sites like Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars, MyPoints, and Survey Junkie are great places to start.
If you are interested in taking online surveys for extra money, here is a post on the Highest Paying Survey Sites.
Get a second job –
Finding a second job is easier said than done, but bringing in an extra paycheck each week can be really beneficial when trying to save money fast on a low income.
Use Cashback Apps
I have earned a ton of cash back just by using cashback apps for shopping that I was going to do anyway. This is a great way to get money back each month and does not take much work at all. My favorites are:
I love Rakuten because they are one of the best cashback sites around. I make cashback with Rakuten by shopping for groceries and dog food each month. They also have a Google Chrome extension that tells you how much cashback you can earn while shopping on different websites.
You can get a $10 bonus for signing up with them here.
I also love Ibotta because you can receive cashback from online AND in-store purchases. You will have the option to be paid in cash or with gift cards.
Plus, you can receive $20 in welcome bonuses when you sign up.
Invest your spare change
Most people think investing means that you need to have a ton of money, but there are plenty of ways to invest with very little money to help build your wealth. I personally use the Acorns app to invest my spare change for me in order to help grow my savings.
Acorns lets you invest your spare change through “round-ups”. This means that the app will round up all of your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. This is a good way to start building up your savings through investing without having to put in too much effort.
You can get a $5 welcome bonus with Acorns when you sign up after your first spare-change investment!
Put your savings into a high yield savings account
A high yield savings account is an account that you can open and start earning some interest with right away.
Putting your savings into one of these accounts is a great option for earning a little bit of money with your savings. You will start earning interest on your money when you open the account and transfer your savings.
I highly recommend looking into CIT Bank’s high yield savings account. They offer about 10x the national average APY and all you need is $100 to deposit to open an account.
Cut down on unnecessary costs
It can be extremely difficult to save money fast if you are overspending on unnecessary items. These costs can be big or small, but will really add up if you aren’t careful.
It is important to understand the difference between necessary costs and unnecessary costs. Some necessary expenses are groceries, utilities, mortgage/rent payment, and clothing (if absolutely needed.)
Some unnecessary costs include:
Subscription services and memberships – Do you have a gym membership you never use? How about a monthly subscription box or magazine service? These can add up quickly!
Coffee – A $5 from Starbucks doesn’t seem like a huge cost… until you go about 5 times a week. That small cost can add up fast and can turn into a huge cost every month. Try making your coffee from home at a much cheaper cost!
Cable – I’m sorry, but cable is not necessary. There are so many alternative options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime that are a fraction of the cost. Or you could cut T.V. out completely for a while and find cheaper forms of entertainment.
Name brand items – Grocery store items, clothes, shoes… Some brands tremendously mark up their prices because they know people will pay for it. But brand name items are not a necessity and can easily be swapped with generic brands.
It will also help to be grateful for what you already have. Having an abundance mentality will tremendously help with not feeling the need to buy unnecessary things.
Buy second hand
This one can be a hard pill to swallow for some people. But buying second-hand clothes, electronics, furniture, etc. can really cut down on costs.
You can find amazing second-hand items online at Poshmark, Thredup, and eBay.
Downsize if you can
Downsizing can also be extremely difficult but will also save you a ton of money each month. Your home and vehicle are huge monthly costs, and downsizing them can be really beneficial to help you save money fast.
Living in a home with extra bedrooms and extra space that isn’t utilized by everyone in the home is wasteful. It might be beneficial to downgrade to a home that is more suitable for your needs.
If you aren’t able to downsize your home right away, consider renting out an extra room on Airbnb.
Also, do you have a vehicle that requires a ton of gas? Do you own your vehicle or are you still paying it off? Do you have multiple vehicles that you don’t use often? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may make sense to downgrade to a smaller and less expensive vehicle.
You could find a fuel-efficient vehicle that does not require gas. And if you are paying off your vehicle and still have a long way to go, maybe consider selling it and buying a vehicle in cash to avoid a car payment. If you have multiple vehicles, consider keeping one and selling the others.
Using public transportation or riding a bike for a while isn’t a bad idea either and can save you even more money!
Get creative with it!
Saving money doesn’t always need to be daunting and negative. Have some fun with it and get creative!
For example, you could find and complete a savings challenge with yourself or with your partner.
My husband and I will sometimes make a game out of it to see how little each person can spend each month. Some friendly competition will make it fun and can distract you from feeling like you are doing the same savings challenges every month.
You could also do a no-spend challenge and make it a goal to not spend any money for a certain period of time.
Get creative and have fun with it!
Find ways to have cheap dates/outings
I have found that cheap entertainment can sometimes be more enjoyable than the typical “date night”. I haven’t been to a movie theatre in years and I don’t miss it one bit!
Coming up with cheap and/or free date night ideas will save you a ton of money as well. Maybe try to make a romantic dinner at home or find a cheap movie to rent. You could also do a hike or a moonlit walk.
The possibilities are endless and will help you to save more money!
A.k.a, do it yourself! I’ll be honest, when I first heard of DIY, I thought it was only for the artsy, craftsy people that roam around on Pinterest. But this is certainly not the case!
Making your own stuff at home will not only save you money, but will also help you feel more accomplished.
For example, you can look up recipes to cook your own such as bread, tortillas, salsa, sauces, pasta, and juices to avoid buying them at the store. These are all expensive grocery items that you can make for a fraction of the cost at home.
You can also find other ways to work out and exercise. Coming up with your own workout routine can be difficult, but you can find a ton of home-based workouts on Youtube and won’t need to step foot inside another gym.
You could also learn how to make your own haircare, skincare, cleaners, air fresheners, bug repellent, and so much more.
Making stuff at home will cut costs tremendously and help you save a ton of money fast.
I hope this information is useful and can help you start saving some money quickly. Let me know in a comment if you plan on trying any of these tips!
Hey there, welcome to my blog!
I’m Swati, a mom, a personal finance enthusiast, and the owner of TheBlissfulBudget. My work has been featured in major publications including Fox 10, Credit Cards, Cheapism, How to Fire, Databox & Referral Rock.
I help busy budgeters like you save and make money by utilizing simple yet effective methods that can create wonders.
My Mantra: You are entitled to live the life you desire, and financial bliss should be simple to obtain–check out my blog for helpful tips on acquiring wealth easily.