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15 Ways To Save Money On A Low Income Fast

Empty wallet with a few dollars and coins signifying budgeting on a low income

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When you have a low income and need to save money fast, you might feel a bit lost, as if it’s impossible to save money when you have a low income. The good news is, even those with little income can find ways to save for things like an emergency fund, extra money to throw at credit card debt, or some fun money to decompress from day-to-day stress.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to save money when your income is limited. We’ll not only talk about ways to cut spending but also how to increase your income and make changes to your habits so that there’s some extra money leftover at the end of each month.

Let’s jump right in.

1. Create a Budget or Re-Evaluate Your Existing One

A good budget helps you save money and gives you perspective on where your money is going every month. When you know where your money is going, you can make smarter decisions on where to cut back or identify if you need to find ways to make more money. 

Without a budget, you may spend your money without a thought, and this can lead to credit card debt and having little money left over to pay bills. When your income is already limited, this can lead to financial stress.

You can create a budget with pencil and paper, a spreadsheet, or an app. A popular budgeting app is YNAB (You Need A Budget), but it has a subscription cost. For those looking for a free budgeting solution, check out our Home Budget spreadsheet.

This guide walks you through how to create a budget. You can also check out this guide to learn how to stick to a budget more effectively.

As you become more skilled at creating a budget and sticking to it, you’ll start to have more money saved each month. This money can be used however you please, and this might be a good time to start thinking of creating an emergency fund if you don’t have one, as when you have a low income, there’s often less cushion for an unplanned expense.

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2. Save Money On Living Expenses

You can cut down on several living expenses when you’re trying to save money and have a low income. A person’s greatest expense is generally their rent or mortgage. 

Saving Money on Your Rent

To cut back on rent, consider moving to a less expensive area. City living is costly, and you can often save a lot of money on rent by moving to the suburbs or a more rural area. You can pair this with finding a remote job on websites like Glassdoor or FlexJobs – put your location as Remote. When you combine a remote job with living away from expensive areas, you can not only save a lot on rent, but you can often make more money, too.

Saving Money on Your Mortgage

If you have a mortgage, you might be able to refinance your mortgage to lower your monthly payment. However, there are many things to consider before taking this option. This article by State Farm discusses key things to consider before you refinance your mortgage.

Rent Out a Room

Whether you rent or own, you can earn money by renting a room out to someone. It’s up to you if you want someone to stay short-term or long-term. You can work with a Realtor to find a tenant or check out a website like Airbnb.

Negotiate Your Bills

Another way to lower housing expenses is to negotiate everyday bills such as your auto insurance, cable, internet, and phone bills. Many providers will give you a better rate if you say you’re thinking of taking your business elsewhere. 

Of course, negotiating isn’t something everyone wants to do. That’s why there are apps like Trim and The Zebra.

Trim is an app that negotiates your cable, internet, phone, and other everyday bills for you. The team can also help remove bank fees and lower credit card APR, as well as cancel subscriptions you aren’t using anymore. Trim is also “mostly free” in that it charges you a portion of what you save. There is also a premium version that does a little extra, which has a flat rate. The average user saves $620 with this app.

The Zebra is a free tool that asks you several questions about your auto and/or homeowners insurance and then finds several quotes based on your answers. You are not obligated to sign up for anything when you use The Zebra, and while you may find vast savings for your auto and homeowners insurance, it’s entirely up to you whether or not you move forward.

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Sign up for Trim and get your bills negotiated automatically. Trim will also identify any subscriptions you may no longer be using to help you save even more money!

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Additional Ways to Save on Living Expenses

There are dozens of other ways to save money on living expenses, which helps when income is limited. Check out this article to learn how to reduce household expenses.

3. Reduce Car Expenses

Cars can be a significant expense to the average person. Aside from having an auto loan payment, you have annual maintenance and fuel costs. Here are some ways to reduce your car expenses so that you can save money.

  • Buy preowned cars. A preowned car that is 1-2 years old often costs over 25% less than a brand new car. Think of it as letting someone else drive a car for a year before you buy it. It’s still a quality car, and you can get it for a lot less.
  • Shop around for auto insurance. Use a website like The Zebra to find the best rates in your area. Shopping around for the best rates can save you hundreds of dollars per  year in auto insurance costs.
  • Use public transit when possible. Public transit is more affordable, so if it’s available in your area, try it out when you don’t need your car.
  • Pay off your auto loan. Auto loans with high interest rates cost you in interest payments. Check out our auto loan calculator to see how much you’re paying in interest for your car.

4. Use Extra Money to Pay Down High Interest Debt

Paying off debt fast while having a low income will save you money in the long term. Some strategies for paying off debt when your money is tight include:

  • Choose how you’ll pay off your debt: You can focus on paying your lowest balance debt or your highest interest rate debt first. You can read more about these two methods of paying off debt in this article about the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method.
  • Don’t take on more debt: If you frequently swipe your credit card and find yourself overwhelmed by credit card debt, lock up your credit cards, and don’t use them until you’ve gotten your credit card debt under control.
  • Pay more than the minimum payments: The more money you can dedicate to paying off your debt each month, the faster you’ll get out, meaning you’ll save more money. Paying even an extra $20 to $50 towards your credit card each month can save years of repayment and hundreds of dollars, if not more, in interest payments.

Paying off debt takes time, and creating a plan to do so may make it feel less overwhelming if you have a lot to pay down. Focus on paying the minimum payments for all of your debts and then using the rest of your money to pay down one of the debts.

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5. Find Low-Cost Activities and Free Entertainment 

When you’re trying to save money on a low income quickly, one thing you’ll want to do is lower the average amount of money you spend on activities and entertainment. 

It’s very easy to spend too much on leisurely activities, such as going out to eat, seeing a movie, spending a day in the city, shopping, etc. But you don’t need to spend frivolously to have a good time.

There are plenty more low-cost and no-cost fun things you can do alone or with friends and family, and these things are not only good for your wallet, but they’re good for your general health, as we all need to have fun in our lives.

For more information, check out these 40+ activities you can do besides watching TV.

6. Live Frugally

When your income is low and you’re trying to save money, it’s helpful to live frugally, as not only is it good for forming good money habits, but it’ll reduce a lot of wasteful spending. Living frugally shouldn’t be confused with being cheap. Instead, frugal people are conscientious about what they spend money on and focus on their needs versus their wants.

To be frugal is to live far below your means, which is spending much less than you make. When income is already tight, it may feel challenging to live more frugally than you already are, so here are some ideas:

  • Sleep on urges to purchase things. Give yourself 7 days before you make a purchase. So often, when a week passes, we’re not interested in buying things that we had an impulse to buy previously.
  • Learn to cook and make your own food as frequently as you can. Frequently getting takeout and eating out can be prohibitively expensive when you have a low income and need to save money.
  • Lower your internet speed if you don’t truly need the speed plan you’re signed up for.
  • Shop for refurbished mobile phones instead of buying a new mobile phone every couple of years.
  • Consider buying a preowned car next time you need a car. Buying a car that is 1-2 years old can save you over 25% off the price of the newest model of the same car. For a new car priced at $30,000, a 25% savings means a discount of $7,500.

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7. Use a Bank That Doesn’t Have Fees

Check to see what type of fees your bank has. For example, you might be getting charged for not meeting a minimum balance or a fee for making transfers to other places. These fees can add up fast. Shop around for different banks and look for a bank that has the least amount of fees.

8. Use Apps To Help You Save Money

Several money-saving apps can help you save money fast when you have little to no income. Here are a few that will get you started:

  • YNAB: You Need A Budget is a household budget app. While YNAB has a subscription, sometimes using a budgeting app is easier than using a spreadsheet or pencil and paper. Using YNAB will help you better budget and track your spending so that you can spend less money overall.
  • Honey: Honey is a money-saving app that finds you discount codes whenever you shop online. You can download the Honey plugin for your browser, and whenever you shop online, Honey will look for coupon codes for you when you go to checkout. You can then redeem your savings in the form of gift cards or cash. 
  • Groupon: Groupon contains coupons for a variety of products and services. You can sometimes save 50% or more on deals of the day, including oil changes, clothing, online streaming subscriptions, and more. 
  • Swagbucks: Swagbucks is a massive cashback app where you earn rewards for shopping online and in-stores. You can also earn money from doing several other activities such as filling out surveys, watching videos, and searching the internet. Check out this comprehensive guide for making money on Swagbucks.

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9. Shop At Thrift Stores

When your income is low, saving money on everyday shopping makes sense. This can be done by shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops. You can save a lot of money on clothes and miscellaneous items by going to a thrift store. 

Many thrift stores have an unsorted bin where you can often find the best deals overall. Spending several minutes going through the unsorted bin can sometimes be the best way to save.

In addition to traditional thrift stores, shopping at dollar stores and other stores where all the inventory is $5 or less can save you significant money. 

10. Consider Working Remotely

The cost of commuting can truly add up, both in the financial cost and the cost of time. If you can find a job online, you can save money on transportation, dress clothes, shoes, etc. A job-search website like Glassdoor or FlexJobs can help you find work-from-home positions. 

Working remotely has many advantages, but one disadvantage is that it can be lonely. You’ll often sit at your computer all day, and some people report gaining weight as well. That said, you can work from home healthily by taking breaks to walk around, stretch, and, where possible, chat with a friend.

You may be able to raise your income when you work remotely because you may land a job at a company that you normally wouldn’t be able to work at due to living too far away from their office, and they may pay better than a typical job in your area. Using a job site to look around at what’s out there can help you earn more money.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more work-from-home opportunities have opened up, and many companies are paying competitively. This might be the right time for you to start looking for ways to save money by not having to commute and finding a higher-paying job to have more money overall.

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11. Save Money by Canceling Unused Subscriptions

A quick way to save money fast is to cancel subscriptions you’re no longer using. This could be an unused gym membership, game subscriptions, beauty boxes, etc. Then, use this saved money for your financial goals.

Many people often overlook how many things they’re signed up for and how much they’re paying for them. Since subscriptions are automatically charged, it’s common to forget about them and end up paying for countless things that you aren’t even using anymore.

An app like Trim will help you save money on subscriptions by scanning your bank and credit card statements to help you find money-saving opportunities. 

12. Take Care of Your Health

Doctor visits get expensive, even if you have good health insurance. Focus on things such as eating healthily, exercising, and generally taking good care of yourself. 

Medical procedures, medications, and other issues that stem from poor health can lead to medical debt, which creates a strain on your finances. 

See your doctor each year if possible to get your health evaluated. Use this opportunity to work on any health issues that you might have.

13. Make Saving Money a Priority

Treat saving money like an expense. Determine a weekly or monthly amount of money that you intend to save and transfer that money from your checking account to a savings account. If you don’t have a savings account, check out CIT Bank’s Savings Builder Account, where you can securely store your money and earn a competitive interest rate.

By taking money out of your checking account and tucking it away in a savings account, you’ll have less access to it. With the money out of sight, it’s less likely that you’ll spend it with the swipe of your debit or ATM card.

Always save some amount of money. This can be as little as $5. When money is tight and you need to save, lock away money into savings before you spend money on entertainment and fun. Pay yourself before you pay out to anywhere else.

You can also make saving money a game and have fun while saving.

14. Increase Your Income

You can only cut back so much, and sometimes saving money with a low income proves to be almost impossible. In this case, it’s time to examine your income and find ways to create more cash flow. 

There are several ways to increase your income, which include:

  • Working overtime. If your job needs extra help, consider offering to work overtime in order to earn more money. This can be something you do once in a while or more regularly, depending on how much money you’re looking to make and how much extra work your job can give you.
  • Take on an additional job. If you have time and need to make more money, consider a part time job that you can do when you’re not at your day job. 
  • Pick up a side hustle. A side hustle is similar to an additional job, however, you can generally make your own hours and fit it around your schedule. As a result, there are often more opportunities to make more money with a side hustle than a typical side job.
  • Ask for a raise. If you’ve been putting in a lot of extra time or helping out with tasks that greatly benefit your company, then consider asking for a raise. If your company appreciates the work you do for them and values you as an employee, you’ll have a better chance.
  • Find a higher-paying job. Sometimes your current job won’t give you more hours or pay you more. In this case, finding a higher-paying job might be your best bet. You can use a website like Glassdoor, FlexJobs, or Indeed to find both local and remote job listings.

15. Automate Saving Money

Sometimes we forget to save money in the first place because we’re caught up in everyday life. That’s why automating the process can make sense. To automate saving money, first, choose an amount of money to save and a frequency. This can be as little as $10 per week, or less if that’s all you can save. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account that triggers either weekly, monthly, or with each paycheck.

By setting up an automatic transfer, you’ll save money on autopilot and won’t have to think about it. Then, at a later date, when you need money, you’ll have money saved in your savings account that you hadn’t paid any attention to until now. 

Wrapping It Up

In this article, we discussed how to save money when you have a low income, but these methods work regardless of your income situation. Saving money is important and beneficial as when you save money, you reduce financial stress and give yourself a better cushion for when things go wrong. Additionally, having more money means you can reach your financial goals with greater ease.