Is it possible to save money fast on a low income?
Yes, it’s possible to save money fast on minimum wage. Although it’s not as easy as pie, it’s certainly doable.
Saving money could be creative, fun, and fulfilling, and it’s not about making six figures or more. It’s more about managing your money effectively and being willing to put yourself in a position to save.
In this post, I have shared 32 tips on how to save money fast on a low income.
How To Save Money Fast On A Low Income
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Have The Right Money Mindset
Your money mindset is your personal beliefs and attitudes toward money.
You are what you think.
So, if you want to save money fast on a low income, developing the right money mind is the very first step to release you from your current financial situation.
Ask yourself, “Is saving your top priority?”—Give saving money a purpose.
Give Saving Money A Purpose
How much money do you want to save? Is saving1k a month good enough?
How fast is fast for you? A month, six months, or a year?
If you want to save money fast on a low income, it’s essential to have realistic savings goals in hand.
So everything you do, compromise, or sacrifice makes sense in a fixed time frame.
Plus, you will be more motivated and focused with specific savings goals, speaking from personal experience.
Figure Out How Much Debt You Have And Eliminate Your Debt
Knowing what you own is important, but you also want to figure out what you owe.
“Every time you borrow money, you’re robbing your future self.” — Nathan W. Morris
Debt is a devil that keeps many people in the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
Make sure to clean up your debt as fast as possible and tackle the ones with the highest interest rate first.
In the meantime, you want to have an emergency fund ready (at least $1,000) on the side. So you don’t have to go into debt (credit card debt with high-interest charges) for unexpected expenses while trying to get out of debt.
Create A Budget To Make Savings Easier
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
If you want to increase your savings on a low income, budgeting is your plan.
The financial roadmap could help you spot your bad money habits and develop effective ways to eliminate spending leaks.
A personal budget is not a punishment and should never deprive yourself of “fun.” That’s why you will also budget for your fun money along with your savings goals. So you can spend on things that genuinely bring you joywithin your budget guilt-free.
New to budgeting?
I have a dedicated post on budgeting to help you make a budget in 6 easy steps. You can also find different budgeting methods in the same article.
Budgeting has helped me escape the paycheck to paycheck cycle and become a smarter spender and savvier saver. And I believe you can too.
You might also like:
- How To Save Lots Of Money Fast By Stopping Buying These Things (Save over $10,000)
Find A Bank Without Extra Fees
If you want to live within your means, be mindful of every cent that comes out of your pocket.
Small fees don’t seem noticeable initially, but they are not healthy for your financial situation in the long run.
Before opening a savings account, ensure to find a bank that doesn’t charge extra service fees (like management fees and overdraft fees).
Automate Your Savings
If you often overspend, you will likely spend all your money in your checking account.
The best way to avoid this happening is to automate your savings with each paycheck.
You can always earn money, but you can’t buy back time. Automation saves time and money for busy people like you, but it also makes saving easier.
Really, out of sight, out of mind. Plus, you only spend what’s left in your checking account.
It doesn’t matter how much you initially set for the automatic transfer, as your savings account would grow quietly and quickly over time.
Save Your Coins And Small Changes
Ever heard of “a penny saved is a penny earned?”
Don’t forget to keep your coins and small changes in your piggy bank or a money jar if you often use cash while shopping.
Sure. A few bucks won’t make you rich, but a couple of dollars add up quickly.
The extra cash could help when you need to pay small bills like a parking ticket or a takeaway coffee.
Besides, saving something is better than nothing. And no amount is too small to get you started with saving.
Lower Your Housing Costs
We all need a roof over our heads. However, the living costs can eat up a large part of your paycheck. So, if you reduce your living costs, you should build up savings fast.
Here are a few tips on how to spend less on housing.
Live With Your Family
If you live in the same city as your parents, consider moving in temporarily to reach your savings goals faster.
Find Flatmates To Split The Bill
Sharing with others could lower your housing costs fast.
Move To A New Location
Can you move to the suburbs or the other side of the town?
If moving outside of the city is not an option, can you find a smaller apartment or house near your workplace to ramp up your savings?
Say you can save $120 a month for moving to a smaller place; $1,440 saved in a year. Why not?
Rent Out Your Spare Room And Parking Spot
Do you have a spare room and parking spot to rent out to earn extra cash?
Whether you want to find a long-term tenant or short-term renter, this is a quick way to earn a stable income each month. Plus, renting out your parking spot could help save more.
Finding ways to cut back on your housing costs could reshape your finances.
Calculate Your Transportation Costs
According to CNET.com, the average new car cost $45,031 in the US last September, hitting their six record price in a row. And the prices keep climbing.
It’s no surprise that car ownership is expensive because of the depreciation costs and ongoing fees (e.g., insurance, gas, parking fees, repairs, routine maintenance, and registration fees).
“Nothing you will do in your lifetime, realistically, will waste more money than buying a new car, says self-made millionaire and bestselling author David Bach. It’s the single worst financial decision millennials will ever make.”
If you are wondering how to save lots of money fast, consider using public transportation.
That said, if having a car is a necessity for you, try these tips to keep your car costs low.
- Shop around for car insurance while you are saving up. Perhaps switching a provider can save you hundreds of dollars per year.
- Pay off your car loan as fast as you can.
- Learn how to do basic maintenance and minor repairs. YouTube is an excellent place to learn a new skill.
- Consider buying a second-hand.
- Use public transportation when possible to reduce fuel costs.
Cut Down On Food Expenses – How To Save Money On Groceries
Apart from housing and car costs, food is another significant monthly expense that pushes you away from saving money.
Think about how much you have spent on groceries, deliveries, sit-down restaurants, and convenience stores.
Luckily, there is a lot of wiggle room to cut your food spending.
If you want to save money fast on a low income, an effective way is to have a meal plan that you can stick to. So you only buy what’s on your shopping list for your grocery shopping.
Also, don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen to avoid buying the same food and use coupons and loyalty programs while shopping. So you can reduce the extra trips and avoid paying more at different stores.
The $5 Meal Plan
Have you ever heard of the $5 meal plan? It’s a weekly meal plan service designed to make your life easier.
Don’t want to think about what to cook every day? I am with you. I recommend trying the $5 meal plan.
For as little as $5 a month, you can eat healthy and budget-friendly meals with complete meal recipes and grocery shopping lists. Each meal costs only $2 per person.
You can grab the 14-day free trial here to see how you like it. No risk on you.
It’s exciting to see the significant reduction in food costs and change your financial outlook in no time.
Negotiate Your Regular Bills
How much did you spend on your cable (cable boxes, remotes, and bundled pricing), internet, gas, and electric bills?
Did you know you can negotiate the bills and switch plans/providers to cut down the costs easily?
Yes. You can.
Negotiating with your service providers can go a long way to help you reduce your monthly expenses, and you have nothing to lose.
For example, if bundling your cable TV and internet with a different provider would save you hundreds of dollars a year, make the change right away.
Ready to see your savings account growing instantly? Negotiate your bills.
Change Your Phone Plan
It’s not usual for people to change their phone providers as it’s a hassle to update their contact numbers. However, it’s not uncommon to switch phone plans.
If your monthly phone plan is beyond your budget, and you are not really using all the provided services (e.g., unlimited talk, text, and data), consider switching to a cheaper prepaid plan that only includes the services you need.
By doing this, you can probably cut your monthly bill in half and save money fast on a low income.
Reduce Your Electric Bills — How To Save Money On Electric Bill
If you are mindful of your energy usage, you can easily save hundreds of dollars each year.
How often do you use these energy-intensive appliances?
- Washing machine
- Air conditioning
Do you unplug all your electronics when you are not using them? Are you using energy-efficient light bulbs to save money down the line? If not, start doing them now.
You can review your electric bills to determine which part consumes most of your money. Then take action accordingly to lower your monthly bills.
Save More Money With Trim
Want to save more money effortlessly?
Trim (a smart personal finance bot) can do all the hard work for you and take care of your day-to-day finances, so you can sit back and grow your savings.
This virtual personal assistant can help you negotiate your monthly cable, internet, phone, medical bills, etc. You can also get spending alerts to avoid overspending and stop being broke.
So far, Trim has helped their users save more than $70 million.
You can sign up for Trim for FREE here and start saving more money today. 💰💰💰
Refinance Your Student Loans And Save Money
Hefty student loans can stop you from saving money fast.
Have you considered refinancing your student loan for a lower interest rate and paying it off in a shorter term so you can build a savings account quickly?
If so, ensure you are employed, have a good credit score, and compare student loan refinancing rates before applying.
Take Care Of Yourself Mentally And Physically
It’s not fun to get sick, especially when you are alone, as medical bills are notoriously expensive (e.g., significant diseases).
Although somehow it’s inevitable to visit hospitals, you can still do something to reduce the number of doctor visits and sick leave days.
Here are a few tips.
- Eat healthily. Meal prep is an excellent way to control what you put into your stomach.
- Do exercise regularly.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks to keep yourself hydrated.
- Have enough sleep and sleep well.
- Quit unhealthy habits (e.g., excessive drinking and smoking). Bad habits don’t just harm your health, but they also affect your financial well-being in the long run.
- Improve your health literacy.
- Take advantage of your health insurance (e.g., regular checkups and dental visits)
💡 Note: Don’t avoid seeing doctors to save money, as you will probably end up spending more money down the road.
Stay healthy and safe to save a big pile.
Change Your Credit Card
If you need to use a credit card, choose a credit card that comes with benefits. It requires minimal effort for a sizable benefit.
For example, you can have cash back on purchases, air travel miles, or free gift cards (your choice).
I use my credit card for all purchases (online and offline) to reap the benefits that are aligned with my savings goals, which works extremely well for me.
💡 Note: Don’t spend more money than you need in exchange for more rewards. Your goal is to save more rather than spend more.
Also, make sure you are able to pay off your credit card balance in full every month, so you don’t have extra consumer debt.
Do Price Matching
Price matching is not something new in the retail world. But I am surprised that many consumers don’t know the term exists.
It’s a store policy that if you find a competitor offers a lower price on an item you want, the store will lower the price to match the competitor’s price.
Many physical and online stores offer price matching, don’t forget to check with the stores next time you go shopping.
If they do, it only takes you a few seconds to check the competitor’s price online and show the proof to the store staff.
Unsubscribe Your Emails
I am easily influenced by stores’ promos and massive discounts in my inbox. And unsurprisingly, I spend lots of money on these “great deals that you can’t miss.”
When I decided to draw a line and unsubscribe from most of the stores (there are still a few stores I absolutely love), it turned out that the quality of my life didn’t get worse, and my savings account started to grow quickly.
If you are anything like me, consider unsubscribing from emails that don’t add any value to your life so you can protect your money and save more.
While living below your means, learning to fix things will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
It’s always good to learn new skills, and living on a low income somehow motivates you to learn more.
For example, you can fix loud cabinet doors or repaint your wall by checking out online tutorials before calling a pro.
Obviously, you can’t and don’t need to do everything yourself, especially if something requires professional skills with security concerns.
But you can do some small and basic stuff to save money.
Use The Cash Envelop Method
The traditional budgeting method works like a charm for those who aim to control overspending and impulse buys.
You will know what’s actually going on with your money when using up your cash in the envelopes.
Analyze your spending patterns and make changes by using this method so you can have more money to save.
Try Amazon Prime For Free To Save Money
If you often buy on Amazon, the Amazon Prime membership could help you save lots of money.
Amazon Prime is a subscription service from Amazon that offers members additional perks.
Here is how you can benefit from the Amazon Prime program.
- Free two-day shipping and same-day delivery on eligible orders
- Unlimited movie, TV, and music streaming (saving money on your cable TV)
- Unlimited reading (over a thousand books, comics, and magazines to read for FREE)
- Free games (free PC games, in-game content, and a monthly Twitch channel subscription)
- Other exclusive perks and shopping deals for prime members
Use Coupons While Shopping
One of the best ways to save money fast while shopping is by using coupons.
You can earn cash back or free stuff on your purchases with coupons to maximize your savings.
There are many online coupon sites you can sign up for FREE. Don’t forget to read the coupons’ terms and conditions before using them.
In the meantime, it’s a plus if you use a credit card with rewards (we have covered this earlier).
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Expensive subscriptions are the often overlooked area.
If you want to know how to increase savings fast, look at all your subscriptions and cancel the unused ones for quick savings. As for the needed ones, try to find alternatives that cost less.
Have too many subscriptions? Don’t worry. Use Truebill to cancel all your unwanted subscriptions easily. It will help you track your spending and lower your bills.
Choose Free Or Low-Cost Entertainment
Entertainment is essential for healthy well-being, so I’m not going to tell you to give up fun in life.
However, you can choose free fun activities or frugal entertainment that doesn’t cost you much. Also, check the discounts for students, teachers, and military members or seniors (if applicable).
Here is a list of my favorite frugal activities.
- Invite friends over instead of going out
- Have a movie night at home
- Take a walk in parks or gardens
- Go hiking
- Visit free art galleries or museums
- Enjoy the library
Have A Spending Ban For A Month
When trying to control overspending, why not consider a no-spend month?
Not only does it help you save money fast on a low income, but also it’s soul searching.
When I tried the no-spend challenge years ago, I was amazed that I actually could survive without the extra stuff. During the challenge, I also learned to break up with these bad money habits. It was a game-changer.
So I encourage you to try it out. Only spend money on the necessities and keep it to the minimum for a month. You will be surprised how fast you can save money when you are not making as much as you’d like.
If one month is too challenging, you can start with a week and see how it goes.
Do A $1,000 Monthly Savings Challenge
Wondering how to save $1,000 fast? Make it a challenge.
Like the no-spend monthly challenge, you can challenge yourself to stack $1000 fast within a month.
And it doesn’t have to be boring. Make it a game and invite your friends or family members to play. Who loses the game needs to buy a drink or a meal.
Having a little bit of fun while saving will keep you motivated along your journey.
Download my free monthly savings challenge printable here to save $1,000 in the next 30 days.
Also read: How To Do The 52-Week Money Challenge
Is It Better To Keep Money In Savings Or Checking?
It’s better to have a separate savings account for your savings goals with an automatic transfer. And you can earn interest in your savings account.
Besides, if you don’t have easy access to the money, you are less likely to touch it.
Feel free to keep your monthly expenses in your checking account.
Don’t Forget The Free Money
If you wonder, “How do I save money if I make minimum wage?” you don’t want to miss out on the free money.
When you earn a low income, you might be eligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC), which means you might get more back of what you earned from the tax refund.
Also, your company might contribute a certain amount to your retirement savings plan, such as a 401(K) retirement fund, based on the amount of your annual contribution.
Make sure to check them out.
Reduce Insurance Costs Without Sacrificing Quality
Insurance (e.g., health insurance, life insurance, and auto insurance) is essential to a healthy financial life.
Some people might decrease the coverage to lower the insurance fees. But there are better ways to reduce insurance costs.
For example, you can try bundling policies, improve your credit standing, and ask about special discounts.
Improve Your Financial Literacy
If you are struggling to save money fast on a low income, expand your financial knowledge by reading financial-related books, blogs, or magazines.
Sometimes, you might just need a bit of motivation. Or, other times, you want more guidance on saving money.
I highly recommend the book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” written by Ramit Sethi. This book teaches you practical steps to financial independence regardless of the amount of money you start with. I am sure you will love it.
No matter how busy you are or how much you earn, never stop empowering yourself.
Increase Your Income To Save More Money
You have cut your spending to the bone, taken the free money, and tried all the possible ways to save money fast, but saving money on a low income is still challenging because of the limited earnings ($10,000 salary or $20,000 salary).
So what else can you do?
You can always boost your income to grow your savings quickly.
Making more money could give you more breathing room to save and spend.
Imagine if you can make $30,000 or more a year and contribute it to your savings account; your savings will grow much, much faster.
How To Make And Save Money Fast
There are many ways to earn more if you are willing to make an effort.
Asking for a pay raise is an option to increase the employment income. This is the easiest way to get more money fast. Don’t be afraid to bring this up if you feel you are underpaid for what you are doing. But make sure you do your homework before sitting down with your boss.
Getting a part-time job is a quick way to make money, but you don’t want to get a job with minimum wage to trade your time for money. It’s not worth it in the long run.
Instead, starting a side hustle has unlimited earning potential.
Want to make fast money? Try completing surveys online with Survey Junkie. You can get paid with cash or free gift cards by taking simple surveys.
Did I mention it’s 100% free to join?
Want More Money-Saving Tips?
Start saving today and get more from life.
Save $1 or $5 a day; it doesn’t matter. All you need to do is act now and fast to build the habit of saving.
Again, saving something is always better than nothing. Small savings can lead to a healthy financial life later in life.
Once you get the ball rolling, you will find that saving money fast on a low income is not as difficult as you think.
Depending on your financial goals, saving lots of money doesn’t happen overnight, especially when living on the financial edge.
Even though saving money fast with a low income is challenging, it’s possible to move from surviving to thriving.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways on how to save money fast on a low income. I can’t help you avoid all expenses in life, but you can make small changes to reduce spending, make saving money fun, and increase your revenue.
What are your best money-saving ideas to manage your finances? Let me know in the comments.
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