Did you know that nearly 80% of Americans depend on a paycheck? Without a doubt, that covers a majority of us. So, how in the world can we own a dream house or a luxurious car?
The secret is to learn how to save money fast on a low income, and I will show you how exactly.
Honestly, saving is the key to making investments and improving our income. We often spend a big part of our earnings on unnecessary expenses when we should be putting it into better use.
Before we can look at the best money saving ideas, let’s first understand why saving is necessary even on a small paycheck.
Why Save Money?
It is normal to have this concern when you don’t earn enough. Well, you can never have enough as human desires are insatiable. The truth is that we all need to know how to save money quickly, at least for the following reasons:
- Emergency fund – Knowing that life events are unpredictable; it is wise to set some money aside to take care of emergencies. The emergency could be a costly medical bill, a job loss, a significant repair, or any other unforeseen expense.
- Investment vehicle – You can start saving small towards your dream house, car, or business. You just need to be disciplined when setting goals and stay focused.
- Retirement plan – It is never too late to save up for retirement. You can start now, and you can start small. You also need discipline here to reach a specific target.
- Education – You can also save up for learning. At least, this protects you from applying for a student loan, which you would have to pay later. It is also a great idea to save up for your kids’ education.
How Can You Do It?
Here Are 20 Easy Ways To Save Money On A Small Paycheck.
1. Create a Zero-Sum Budget
If you are hoping to learn how to budget and save money on a low income, it makes sense to start here. A zero-sum budget just works for me.
It requires you to determine destinations for every dollar before payday. Thus, no single cent is unaccounted.
In the end, what remains after accounting for all expenses equals savings. You can direct the savings into a savings account or an emergency fund.
From a consumer standing, a zero-sum budget saves you from losing money in black holes (expenses you cannot explain).
2. Use Saving Apps
Technology seems to be favoring the consumer, and this is one of the reasons I prefer shopping online. There are amazing mobile apps out there you can use to score considerable discounts on shopping.
Dosh, for example, earns you cash back automatically on your first purchase without the need to activate any offer.
Rakuten, on the other hand, has partnered with thousands of stores to allow you to earn money back on virtually any product you buy online.
Another excellent saving app I enjoy using is Trim. It allows you to cut down on unwanted subscriptions. Interestingly, the service can negotiate for lower bills on your behalf.
3. Automate Your Savings
If there is an easy way to direct your money to a savings account, it has to be the automation of your back account. I like the idea since it cushions me from forgetting to save or misappropriating my earnings at the end of the month.
Most banks allow you to direct a specific fraction of your income to your savings account. The only challenge with this hack is if you are paid in cash. Then, you’ll have to save up manually, and this requires the utmost discipline.
Manually, you can try the envelope system. It sounds old-school, but it one of the most practical save money ideas.
You need to have several envelopes designated for monthly expenses and one for savings. As you allocate some cash to the expenses envelope, ensure you also put some to the savings envelope.
4. Save on Housing
The biggest concern for most Americans is the ever-rising housing cost. So, how can one lower the cost? I strongly believe in trying these money saving tips and tricks:
- Negotiate – Landlords are humans, and so you can always talk to them about a possible rent reduction. It may be hard but not entirely impossible, more so when you have been a loyal tenant.
- Trade – Offer to work for your landlord to cover a part of the rent.
- Search – Look for alternative cheaper accommodation. You shouldn’t stay in a house that you find hard to pay for.
- Rent it out – It is cheaper to pay rent or a mortgage when you are not doing it alone. So, if finding a roommate is an option, try it.
- Downsize – The problem with most people is that they pay so much for spaces they don’t need. If it applies to you, consider getting a small space. Doing so allows you to save a lot.
5. Save on Transportation
We spend money unnecessarily on transportation without even realizing it. If you are keen here, you could save hundreds of dollars monthly. Ideally, you should:
- Swap your car for an easy-to-maintain and cheaper model – It doesn’t make sense to try to survive with a Mercedes Benz when things can be much more comfortable with a Toyota.
In terms of fuel consumption and routine maintenance, a Toyota model is much cheaper.
- Look for cheap gas – Using an app like GasBuddy, you can locate the most affordable gas points across the U.S.
- Use alternative transport – Consider riding to work or using public transport as they are cheaper than driving to work.
- Shop for cheap auto insurance – This allows you to save a few dollars
6. Save on Food
Food is a necessity; there are no debates about it. However, you don’t have to spend everything, more so when learning how to save money fast on a low income.
You should allocate a specific part of your earning to food and plan to buy wisely without risking the food going bad. Here are some extra tips for you:
- Shop for groceries on a full stomach to avoid impulse purchases.
- Buy food in bulk to earn discounts and freeze some of it for future use.
- Reduce eating out by contemplating cooking at home.
- Use Ibotta for your grocery shopping to start saving on food.
- Create a weekly meal plan that you can observe.
- Stay away from frivolous foods (junks) as they are costly for nothing.
7. Save on Utilities
I always keep an eye on my utility bills as they form a significant part of my monthly expenses. Thus, if you are looking for easy ways to save money on a small income, then you have to tighten your belts at home.
It starts with reducing the energy bills at home. A practical approach would be to switch to more energy-efficient appliances and lights.
8. Shop with a List
The only practical way you can stick to a budget is to always shop with a list. It enables you to avoid impromptu purchases, and this is vital in saving.
Without a shopping list, it is tempting to make purchases that you didn’t plan for an end up forgetting the most important ones.
I always make a list before approaching a store to buy household items. Whatever that remains once I get the things on my list is considered a saving.
9. Try DIY
Consider for a second how much you pay for home repairs and maintenances. It must be significant, right? You could save a lot if you do it yourself. Some of the tasks do not require so much expert knowledge.
Furthermore, you can get video tutorials and DIY guides online that you can use to unclog your drain, fix the lights, among many other home repairs. So, why pay for something you can do yourself?
How about building cabinets at home and detailing your car? Those are also DIY tasks. You just need the right tools and ensure you prioritize safety. So, learn the most basic DIY routines today to start keeping money in your pocket. It is undoubtedly one of the most creative ways to save money.
10. Deflate Your Lifestyle
You probably are familiar with lifestyle inflation, where the cost of living increases as a result of extra lifestyle expenses.
Now, lifestyle deflation is the exact opposite. In this case, your goal is to reduce or do away with lifestyle expenses that enhance your cost of living.
Such expenses include expensive subscriptions, costly memberships, frequent treats, smoking, and alcohol.
For example, you don’t have to pay for a TV subscription if you find it expensive. Instead, consider watching without cable.
As for the treats, try reducing the number of times you go out. The less frequently you do it, the more money you keep in your pocket.
- 50 Best Frugal Living Tips.
- 15 Saving and Budget Tips for Young Adults
- How To Start Living Stingy Without Being Cheap
11. Adopt the 72-Hour Rule
I don’t know about you, but I used to find it hard to resist making impromptu purchases if I had money. Thanks to the 72-hour rule, however, I now have control over my spending. The law taught me how to start saving money on purchases.
The 72-hour rule is quite simple. You just need to take up to 3 days to decide if you should go ahead with a specific purchase or not. It may surprise you to realize that you don’t need the item once the 72 hours expire.
12. Track Your Expenses
Expense tracking is just an essential savings idea as budgeting. Though it looks like a lot of work, it helps to know where most of your money goes. At least, this lets you identify the costs that need lowering.
Thanks to mobile technology, there are applications for such jobs, and a perfect example is Mint. The app links to your bank account to allow you to monitor how you spend your money. The fantastic thing about Mint is that it is free.
Other options similar to Mint are YNAB and Personal Capital. If you prefer manual options, however, then you should try Google Spreadsheet or better still, Excel. You have to be extra keen on each expense, however, when you opt to go manual.
13. Collect Free Gifts
We all love free items, and it is more exciting when we don’t have to work a lot for them. That is the case when it comes to surveying sites like SurveyJunkie and Swagbucks. The two sites let me collect gift vouchers that I redeem at Walmart.
The sites are free to sign up, and you only need to participate in a survey to earn a few dollars. Other than Walmart, you can also redeem gift cards at Starbucks and Amazon.
14. Consider Couponing
Couponing refers to the act of seeking coupons (codes for exclusive deals or discount vouchers) to save money. You can use them to save on groceries, shipping, and other household expenses.
So, if you are looking for the smartest money saving tips on income, couponing is the way to go. You can try the following coupon types:
- Discount coupons – Offer money-off on purchases.
- Complimentary coupons – Give you free tickets.
- Buy One, Get One (BOGO) – Guarantees one free item upon making a purchase.
- Free shipping coupons – Saves you shipping costs.
15. Stay Healthy
Healthcare is costly in the U.S. You may end up paying thousands of dollars on hospital bills when you could avoid it entirely. There is no better secret on how to save money fast on a low income than to stay healthy. After all, who needs a doctor unless they are sick?
I consider these healthcare approaches necessary for saving money on a low income:
- Quit smoking
- Exercise more routinely
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid stress
- Eat healthily
If you have health insurance, then take full advantage of it. Of course, it has to be affordable to save you money in the long run.
More importantly, go for frequent checkups to avoid having to deal with health complications. Health complications are expensive to treat.
16. Haggle Everything
It is not just the rent that you should negotiate when you want to save. You should apply the trick to everything. Haggling can be your solution for money saving challenges.
It may come as a surprise, but it is possible to haggle for fair internet charges, auto insurance costs, and phone bills. That is in addition to grocery and gas.
The providers always want to keep their loyal customers, and so they sometimes compromise on the rates just to see you stay. So, why not pick up the phone and start haggling?
You can also do it via email or walk into their office to table your case. What is important is that you sound convincing and leave everything else to lady luck.
17. Sell What You Don’t Need
Why keep it if you don’t need it? I have lived by this principle, and it is one of my best ways to save money. Whenever I need to save extra cash, I always look around to see items I don’t use that could earn me some quick dollars.
18. Buy Second Hand
Sites like eBay and Craigslist don’t just allow you to sell second-hand items but also to buy them. Other websites include Letgo, Sell, and Gone.
These sites usually sell items that are in decent condition, and you buy them at reduced prices. From household items to personal gadgets, look for genuine owners who are willing to sell at a reasonable price.
19. Find an Online Hustle
You cannot save more money if you are entirely dependent on your paycheck. I recommend that you should try an online side hustle.
Nowadays, there is so much you can do online as a freelancer. You can try blogging or copywriting. You can also do copywriting, data entry, or transcription jobs.
I do most of my online side hustles on Upwork, but you can also try other freelancing sites like Guru, Indeed, Writer Access, Fiverr and Freelancer.
How about starting a blog? It allows you to create fresh content and share it with the world. In turn, you get paid for posting ads, selling products, and membership subscriptions.
Learn how to start a blog here and make $1000 per month
Better still, why don’t you try survey sites? You only need to spare a few minutes and earn something small. You can find the gigs on PadViewPoint, Survey Junkie, and ySense.com, just to name a few survey sites.
20. Stay Away from Debts
Lastly, it may all be in vain if you do all the above and still owes someone money. I have learned that debts are like pests; they always collect. It is almost impossible to find something to save when you have debts to pay.
Furthermore, they attract interests, money that would have formed a part of your savings. So, the secret is to stay away from debts if you can.
And if you are planning to start saving, ensure you first find a way to clear your debts to avoid the burden piling up and messing up your saving goals.
Now you know how to save money fast on a low income. So, there are no justifiable reasons not to start saving, however small.
At least that is what I have come to believe. You don’t have to apply all the approaches. Just find a few that works for you and try them out.
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There are different ways to save money with a low income. For example, use special applications to save your money or save money on something superfluous. You need to choose the method that is comfortable for you.