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How Can I Save Money on a Low Income?

Creating a budget can prevent unnecessary spending.
Some people on a low income make their own laundry soap.
Packing a sandwich for lunch can help cut down on food costs.
Using coupons is one way to save money.
Learning to perform simple auto maintenance can save on repair bills.
Collecting change in a change jar is important to many on a low income.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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Although saving money on a low income may be more difficult than putting aside savings when you're earning at least an average income, it's still an important thing to do. By cutting costs in some areas, you can have more to save and then have money when you need it in case of an emergency. You can save money if you just commit to setting aside a small, but set amount from each pay check.

The first thing to decide is what your savings will be used for. You can save toward a particular item you want or need, but you should also have emergency savings in mind. You may need to have separate goals that you save for. Remember that, when you save money on a low income, you are doing it not to deprive yourself further, but to empower yourself in the long run.

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If you really find that you don't have much extra money to put aside, remember that even a small amount of savings is better than none. Plus, you may be able to find an area where you can trim some money and put it into savings. Remember that money spent on meals out — even fast food lunches — may easily add up and may better be put into a small savings fund. If you limit yourself to one meal out per week and put the money you would have spent aside, you may be very surprised how much savings you have in a few months time. If you think about how much money you can have long term if you forgo some things in the short term, it can help you keep your commitment to save.

If you think of having a budget and sticking to it as a way of making the best use of your small income for your future goals rather than seeing a budget as what you can't have, you're likely to maximize your savings. Having a budget that includes how much you need to save each paycheck can keep you on track. Just be realistic with the amounts. Give yourself some treats, but don't live beyond your means. When you save money on a low income, even a few dollars a week, you’re managing the money you do have for your own benefit.

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anon942043
Post 5

I have been poor in the past and made below minimum wage (working at a restaurant).

While doing that, I essentially cut my living expenses to almost nothing. Here's some tips from me:

1) Buy food in bulk and don't eat anything else until you've eaten it all. You can buy big bags of frozen veggies, rice, chicken breasts, cereal, etc. at Costco or Walmart for cheap. Go grocery shopping once every three or four weeks and don't eat anything else except what you buy there.

2) Cut transit costs. Use Gasbuddy for gas (fill up for $20), Insurance Panda for insurance (I pay $30/month for full coverage), and Waze to avoid unnecessary driving in traffic jams.

3) Ask for rent discounts. Say you are going to leave unless they lower your rent. I saved $200/month on rent this way.

4) When you go out, leave your credit card at home and only bring a small amount of cash. (Even better, cut up your credit card!) You can't spend it if you don't have it! That's all I can think of now.

cupcake15
Post 4

@Bhutan - I have always wanted to try that. I do want to say that there are everyday things that you can save money on. For example, you can eliminate your cable, and land line and only use your cell phone. You can also car pool to work, or use public transportation or even bike to work if you can because gas is really expensive.

I think that you can also save money on entertainment and enjoy things that are free. For example, spending the day at the beach is free with the exception of the parking expense and rollerblading at the park is a lot cheaper than going to a roller skating rink.

Also walking or jogging in the park is a lot cheaper than joining a gym. I also think that making your own flavored coffee at home can save you a lot of money on those $5 lattes and if you go to the library and check out a book it will save you a bundle from buying the brand new book at the bookstore. These are great ways to save money that anybody can do.

Bhutan
Post 3

@GreenWeaver - Wow those are great tips on saving money. I think another way to learn how to save money is to shop at thrift stores for clothing.

Thrift stores sell second hand clothing at a fraction of the price and the clothing is usually in excellent condition. It is not uncommon to get a dress for $5 that would normally retail for six or seven times that.

If you feel awkward about buying used clothing, you can always wash the clothing when you get home then the clothes are just like new.

This is great especially for children’s clothing because kids grow out of clothes so quickly that it is a waste to spend a lot of money on their clothes. Also, a lot of these consignment shops will even give you money for used clothing as long as it is in good condition.

GreenWeaver
Post 2

@SauteePan - I‘ll have to try that. I wanted to say that I was watching a television show about a lady who clipped coupons and belonged to a lot of coupon clubs online.

She would buy about $500 worth of groceries and pay about $10 total. What she would do is buy items in bulk and used a store and manufacturer’s coupon and buy the item when it was on sale.

It was incredible how much money she saved. She also organized her purchases so she knew what she had and knew what she needed. In addition, she went to the grocery store with a list. The coupons and the list kept her focused so that she would not buy impulse items.

She also mentioned that prepared food was always more expensive than making the food yourself, so she avoided these purchases as well and that is how to save money on food.

SauteePan
Post 1

I agree that having a budget is a good idea and it helps you learn how to save money. I was listening to a financial advisor the other day and he suggested that everyone create an envelope system in which you determine how much money is allocated for each expenditure and place the exact amount in cash in the labeled envelope.

This way when the money is spent you are done with that category. I think that a lot of people can save money this way because a lot of purchases are impulse purchases but this method makes you focus on your expenses and lets you save what is left over.

It takes a while to get used to it, but it works. I think that what helped me stick to my budget is to have a small amount of money that I could spend on what I wanted.

If I know that I could spend $100 at the end of the month for example, on whatever I want then it does not feel so restrictive and I can maintain my budget. This is important because a budget is like a diet and you have to have some space in your budget to enjoy your life too.

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