“Do something now that you will thank yourself for later.”
Saving money when you live paycheck to paycheck can seem impossible.
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here!)
Thankfully, I was able to dig myself out of a hole after learning so much from How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any.
That book literally changed my financial life forever. (and I can’t give enough praise to the author for giving me just the kickstart I so desperately needed.)
And since I’m Saving $15,000 This Year, I’ve come up with several creative ways to save money on a tight budget.
So if these tips helped me then they’ll help you too! 🙂 So let’s get started!
Save While You Spend
I figure that we all have to buy some things in order to live, so this is the perfect place to start.
Nowadays, there are several things that I exclusively buy online because I know I’m getting the best deal (face wash, toothpaste, and coffee creamer to name a few…)
So every time I shop online, I make sure to do it through Ebates.
I figure if I’m getting things that I’d normally buy anyway then I might as well save money doing it!
It’s super easy to create an Ebates account (plus it’s free) and use the search bar to find the retailer you want to shop with.
As you make purchases you’ll get cash back.
Then, Ebates will send you a check or deposit that money into your PayPal!
Note: The Ebates link above gives you a $10 welcome bonus for signing up and shopping.
1. The B Word
“A budget is you telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
Budgeting! If you don’t already budget – you’ll give yourself a raise by creating one.
I know you’re probably thinking, “I’ll give myself a raise by budgeting – what?”
It’s true. Once I started budgeting, I started finding holes in my spending habits. I didn’t truly realize where my money was going until I started tracking it.
If you want to stop being broke (and get your financial sh*t together) then you have to budget and track your money!
Don’t consider budgeting a chore – instead, see it as a mini-meeting with yourself.
I can guarantee that once you start tracking your expenses – you will find extra money to save.
2. Use a Cash System INSTEAD of Plastic
I’m such a fan of the cash system now – probably because it surprised me how well it actually worked.
Even though I had read all the research, and I even knew people who implemented it successfully…it still took me forever to realize that using cash could save me so much money.
So I finally decided that I had nothing to lose (I gave myself 3 months) and that it was time to try something new.
That’s when I bought my SavvyCents Wallet and started implementing my cash system.
Wherever I went, I only brought enough cash with me to cover what I had budgeted for.
For example, if I budgeted to spend $60 at the grocery store then I only brought that amount.
Some pretty incredible things happened.
1 ) I was SO MUCH less tempted by impulse buys.
If I wanted to add something extra to my cart that wasn’t on my list then I knew I had to take something out.
This trick alone made it so MUCH easier when it came to decisions. I had to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer was “no” and I was able to move on.
2) I felt so much more in control of my money.
3) It kept me motivated.
Let me tell you, handing over cash sinks in SO much more than swiping a credit or debit card. It feels way more real.
And because of that, it will inspire you to become that much more savvy with your money.
Turns out, people who use cash spend 12-18% LESS than people who use credit or debit cards.
Those are definitely odds you want to put in your favor!
I’ve also gotten several questions asking if I had tried the cash envelope system.
I did give the envelope method a shot for about 2 weeks, but I thought they were a little harder to manage (mostly because they wore out + got dirty quickly) so I switched over to my SavvyCents Wallet and have loved it ever since.
3. Lower Your Car Insurance
I saved $40 by checking my insurance rate using Nerd Wallet. I realized that Geico was $40 cheaper than Progressive (my old insurer) so I made the switch!
Some of you might know this, but for those who don’t – car insurance companies earn the most money from the people who’ve been with them the longest.
They think that once you’ve been with them, they can charge you whatever premium they want. That’s why even if you have a clean driving record – your premiums stay the same or even go up.
Not good! So shop around for a better rate using Nerd Wallet. It’s free to use and takes about 10 minutes.
4. Get a Better Interest Rate
Interest rates are tricky.
And in the end, they’re what costs us so much more in the long-run.
So if you only make minimum payments on your credit cards, it can take years and years to pay them off.
Let’s say you only made the minimum payments on a $5,000 credit card.
The interest rate is 15%
Do you know how long it’d take to pay it off?
6.5 years with $2,892 worth of interest.
So what should you do?
First, stop adding more debt. Step away from the credit cards.
Secondly, transfer the balance to a lower-rate card or use a company like SoFi to lower your interest rate for you.
Someone first told me about SoFi in college (when we were talking about student loan debt).
And I’m so glad they did.
Just by lowering your interest rate, you’ll save thousands over the course of your loan and pay it off quicker.
So just because you can’t afford to pay off the balance completely, don’t settle for a high APR.
(If you need more info on SoFi, click to read my Sofi review )
Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus.
5. Dine IN
Did you know that the average restaurant charges a 300% markup on their food?
Meaning, if you spent $30 on your meal, you could’ve made it at home for $10.
We’re all guilty of fast food runs and grabbing Starbucks coffee, but if we’re really trying to save money then we need to focus on eating more at home.
Let’s say you spend $7 for lunch at least 3 times a week.
That’s $84 a month alone! And if you eat out more than that…well, talk about financial death by a thousand cuts.
Make it simple on yourself. Give meal planning a shot. Make double portions that you can freeze for later.
Plan for the “I don’t feel like cooking nights” by coming up with a few quick and easy meals.
If you’re guilty of overdoing it on Starbucks (because aren’t we all?!) – invest in a coffeemaker instead! The average $5 cup of coffee from Starbucks only costs you about $0.30 to make at home. Not bad, right?
6. Automate, Automate, Automate
Automate your savings!
One of the best sayings: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Because saving is easy when you don’t have to think twice about it.
You won’t miss the money because you’ll become used to it being taken out each month.
There are two ways to make this happen:
1 ) Make your bank account automatically redirect a certain amount each month. I do this through my Capital One 360 account.
I have a certain amount from my regular bank automatically sent to my Capital One account each month.
I love Capital One 360 because there’s no minimum amount to open it, no fees, and you can open it online in minutes!
2 ) Ask your employer to deposit a certain percentage of your pay to a different account. You’ll just have to fill out a form online or on paper with the percentage and bank routing number.
7. Keep a Change Jar
You can easily save $100-$300 a year by doing this! (Sometimes more, if you throw a couple of bills in there every now and then!)
I got this idea from my boyfriend who saved $375 this year by using his own change jar.
I once heard someone say that if you watch your pennies then the dollars will take care of themselves.
Your loose change won’t turn you into a millionaire overnight, but little by little they add up!
8. Use Your Tax Refund Wisely
Or birthday money, end-of-the-year bonuses – you name it.
What’s better than saving money you weren’t planning on having anyway?
When you get really serious about getting your financial sh-t together, you start taking every opportunity to use every bit of money in the best possible way.
Ask yourself, “Will this help me reach my goal? Will this bring me one step closer?”
9. Set Goals
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Write it down, make it happen.
How much money do you want to have saved in 6 months? A year?
If you don’t have a goal for saving money, it usually gets put on the back burner. Don’t let that happen.
Do something now that you will thank yourself for later.
10. Start Saving NOW, Tomorrow Won’t Make it Any Easier
If you can start immediately, you have a much higher chance of actually succeeding. Even if you just drop $10 into a high-interest savings account – it’s better than not starting at all.
Saving money won’t be easy. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or how much you earn – creating a budget, sticking to it, and becoming financially successful takes effort.
But, it’s SO worth it and you’ll be developing healthy long-term habits that you’ll be so glad you have.
There you have it! How to save money when you have none! Do you have any tips and tricks? Share them below!