We all know saving for emergencies is important but it can be hard to do when you are living on a low income. Budgets are important but can seem daunting or useless when you don’t have tons of money entering your bank account. It might seem impossible to save so I wanted to share some tips for saving when you don’t make a lot. It might take you longer than other people to save an emergency fund but you CAN do it!
Before we start, I just wanted to remind you that you need to know YOUR numbers. Don’t worry about what other people are doing on social media. You need to know how much you’re currently spending and how much you have each month to allocate to debt and savings.
If you want more budgeting tips, check out my post on sticking to a budget. If you’re ready for the next step, sign up for my completely free financial foundations course which will help you reach your money goals faster.
Cancel any memberships or subscriptions that you are not using or that you don’t want anymore. Anything you notice that you don’t use but pay for stop paying on it and find a better use for that money. If there are subscriptions you want to keep, chat with customer service and see if there are any promotions or discounts they can give you. Any money you save from canceled or negotiated subscriptions, you can allocate to savings.
High-Yield Savings Account (HYSA):
Although this won’t make you rich, if your savings is currently with a traditional bank you’re probably making .01% interest vs a HYSA is around 4.25% (as of October 2023). This is truly one of the easiest ways to make more money that you can leave in savings. It takes very little effort on your part.
There are so many apps that can help you save money. You can use Fetch to help you earn gift cards to multiple stores. Just take pictures of every receipt you have to earn points. You can even link it to your Amazon or email accounts. Are you an online shopper? Use Rakuten to help you save money while you spend online (spending intentionally of course!) Upside is a great app that helps you save money on gas or if you have a Circle K near you, you can sign up for Easy Pay and save money at the pump.
Any extra money you receive, such as tax refunds or bonuses, put them towards your savings account to build your emergency savings. I know this can be difficult because you might want to spend the money on something you will feel just as good when you have savings or your debt paid.
If you decide each week which days you will cook and which days you will get takeout it will help SO much. It may take some time to get started but once you decide what you will eat for the week and when you will eat out, you will notice savings in your budget. Check out my meal planner to help you get started. If you’re currently getting takeout 4-5 times a week and you cut that down to 2-3 days a week you will save A LOT of money each month (that can go straight to your emergency fund or sinking funds).
The internet has made it so easy to shop online now. We think about something we want and can have it ordered and at our door within 1-2 days. Before you order, make a conscious decision about if you need this item or not. Decide if it is in your budget or if you have a sinking fund to cover it. Check out this blog post on spending triggers to help you with online shopping.
Being on a budget does not mean you can never do anything but check your town for free or discounted activities. Many towns have Instagram accounts with the activities that are being offered for the week or the weekend. Look through the stories and posts to see what is free. Groupon is a great website to use to find discounts on activities and services in your town or nearby towns. You can find getaways, meals or even spa days to enjoy with Groupon. Check your town’s Facebook groups to see if there are any free activities you can enjoy.
There are ways to give gifts without spending all of your money. You can make gifts for your loved ones. Baked goods and homemade crafts are great to give because it shows the time and love that you put in a gift for someone. Another way to save money for gifts is to watch for sales throughout the year. You can also check FB marketplace or consignment/thrift stores. This is a great time to buy Christmas gifts or birthday gifts for kids throughout the year.
Shop around for the best deal. Many phone/internet companies have deals for you if you call when your contract is about to expire. They may offer you a better phone or device if you stay with them or keep your contract price as it is. If they will not match the deal or give you a deal that works for you then you can switch to a different company. I recommend negotiating at least once a year!
It can seem like saving is for people who have a lot of money but it is for everyone who makes money. Start small and work with the money that you have. As your paycheck increases and your debt gets paid off, you can increase the amount you’re saving but you need to just start. Here for you!