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How to save money fast on a low income

By Nooreen B
Modified on September 28, 2023
how to save money fast on a low income

Saving can be especially challenging when working with a low income. However, with the right strategies and techniques, you can work towards achieving your short-term and long-term money goals. Below are all the different creative ways you can save money fast on a low income, even if you are a part of the approximately 50 million Americans that have household incomes below the poverty level.1

Build a Personalized Budget to Save Money

A budget is a great tool that can help you track your income and spending to reach your goals. There are all kinds of budgeting methods for low income households; some focus more on helping to save money than others. 

Most budgets will have the basic categories of emergency funds/savings, necessary expenses, and discretionary spending. Regardless of the budgeting you choose, it is essential to consider your lifestyle and savings goals. With personalization and as you budget money, you will be less likely to fall off track and more likely to save. 

Why is budgeting so important when saving on a low income? When you have less income to work with, it is even more critical to have a plan with your money. This way, you can see exactly where each dollar is going. With low income, being able to save even a few dollars can add up over time. Most people have their savings in a separate savings account rather than in their primary checking account. It takes away that temptation of spending, and most savings accounts come with some kind of return.

Cut Housing Costs to Save Money on a Low Income

For most people, their most expensive monthly cost will be their home. Whether you are renting or paying a mortgage, there are things you can do here to save a large chunk of your income. Here are some solutions to consider with housing when saving money is a priority:

Rent a Room/Get a Roommate to Save Money Fast

If you are a homeowner with a spare bedroom, renting a room in your home is one way to save a considerable amount of money on housing costs. If you are a renter, ask your landlord whether they would be okay with adding another tenant. 

If your residence has more than one extra bedroom, consider renting those out, too. Although having more people in your space can be a little annoying, it can significantly cut down your costs. Adding one more person to your household doesn’t just mean cutting rent or mortgage payments in half; all of your utility bills will also be cut in half! Adding an additional person on top of that could mean cutting down on 75% of your housing expenses. 

Move to a Cheaper Home Even if It Means Less Space

Downsizing your housing situation can be another way to save a considerable amount of money, especially if you have a low income. Although not everyone can downsize, many households can. Consider a smaller living space, even if temporary, so you can focus on saving money quickly. This is one way that living below your means can help you save.

Consider Moving to a Cheaper Area To Save Money 

Where you live can have a huge impact on your finances. Even as little as 50 miles can impact your rent and mortgage costs. And so, if you can move while keeping your job and having other factors work, definitely consider doing so. Even a small move can help you save hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. If you are a homeowner, consider renting out your home to move to a more affordable area to save even more. 

Cut Down on Your Essential Living Expenses To Save Money on a Low Income

Cutting down on some essential expenses can help you save a good amount of money, and for those on a low income, be the change they need to save money faster. Here are some ways to save some extra money on different essentials: 

Energy Bills

Most people pay for their electricity, water, and gas each month. Doing things as simple as using energy-efficient lights, washing clothes in cold water, and switching from baths to showers can all help you save money on these monthly bills. 

Transportation Costs

Another necessary expense that most people have is their transportation. Whether you drive or take public transit, both will come with a monthly or weekly bill. You can save money here by being strategic about how you travel every day. For example, suppose gas prices are through the roof. In that case, you might want to use public transit or bike to and from work and for other necessary travel. 

Insurance Costs

Insurance costs like car insurance, health insurance, renters, or homeowners insurance are other essential expenses. By bundling all these policies with the same provider, you could save a good amount each month. 

Subscriptions

Subscription services can cost hundreds of dollars monthly, and sometimes, you may not even be aware that you are spending money on them! So, if you are trying to save money, then it will be a good idea to go through all of your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones you can part with. 

Phone and Internet Service

Your cell phone plan and internet bills can cost a few hundred dollars each month. If you are trying to save money on a low income quickly, finding cheaper plans, even if just temporarily, will be a big help. 

A Gym Membership or Wellness

Gym memberships and wellness programs can cost up to a few hundred dollars. Instead of paying to work out, find free programs at home while you focus on saving money. 

Grocery Shopping and Food Spending

And finally, groceries and food are a part of the necessary monthly expenses for every household. The average household spends 68% of their food budget on groceries and 32% on dining out.2 If you stop eating out altogether, you could save a lot! Try meal planning, which is often cheaper and healthier than take out or dining out. 

Shop and Spend Smarter To Save Money Fast

Shopping smarter is another strategy that you can use when buying essentials. Here are a few things you can do to lower your costs every time you shop:

Use Coupons 

You find retailer or manufacturer coupons online or through your local newspaper. Although these savings may not seem like a lot upfront, saving a few bucks can definitely add up. 

Shop at Discount Stores

Some retailers are more expensive than others, so if you are focusing on saving money, consider shopping at discount stores. In many cases, shopping online may be cheaper as well. 

Get Store Reward Cards

All kinds of grocery stores and specialty stores have reward cards that you can sign up for free. And every time you shop there, you can earn points for discounts or free stuff. In a way, these reward cards can act as free money! 

Shop Sale Items and During Sale Seasons

No matter what you are shopping for, there will likely be a handful of items on sale that can be significantly cheaper than their full-priced counterparts. Another strategy is to look out for sale seasons and wait to shop then for extra savings. 

Get Rid of Debt Obligations for Some Extra Money

High-interest debt can be a substantial financial burden and take years to pay off. Regardless of your financial situation, if you have any debt (credit card debt, payday loans, car payments, etc.), paying it off will help free up income. 

There are many ways you can eliminate debt. Making more than the minimum payments, taking out a debt consolidation loan, or using different repayment strategies like the snowball or avalanche method. A ton of financial freedom comes with being debt-free, especially if you are working with a low income.

If you do need to take on new debt, having a higher down payment when applicable can be helpful!

Take Care of Your Health 

Medical bills can cause havoc on your finances. The good news is that doing a few simple things to take care of yourself can be a great way to prevent health issues. Eating healthy, staying hydrated, limiting alcohol and other recreational drugs, regular exercise, and getting eight hours of sleep can all be great preventive health measures.

Try Different Saving Challenges to Reach Your Savings Goals

Saving challenges can help you save more money quickly. And so, if you really need a boost to your bank account fast, consider trying one of these challenges. A few money challenges include the no-spend challenge, the 30-day rule, the envelope savings challenge, and more. Do your research to find the best option for your income and spending habits. 

Here are some saving popular savings challenges:

Savings ChallengeDescription
No Spend ChallengeCommit to not spending money on non-essential items for a specific period, like a week or a month.
30-Day RuleDelay purchases for 30 days, giving yourself time to evaluate whether you truly need the item.
Envelope Savings ChallengeAllocate cash into envelopes for different spending categories and stick to those budgets.
$5 Bill ChallengeSave every $5 bill you receive as change. Over time, these bills can add up significantly.
No Eating Out ChallengeAvoid dining out or ordering takeout for a set period, opting for home-cooked meals instead.
Spare Change Jar ChallengeCollect all your spare change in a jar and deposit it into a savings account when it’s full.

Automate Your Savings To Save Money On Low Income

Last but not least, if one of your financial goals is saving, you cannot go wrong with automated savings. With most central banks, you can set up automatic payments that go straight from your checking account to your savings every time you get paid. Sending money automatically can be a great way to stay on track with your savings goal without even thinking about it. It can also help keep impulse spending in check. 

FAQS About Ways to Save Money On Low-Income

How can I start saving money even with a low income? 

Starting to save money on a low income can be challenging but not impossible. The first step is to understand all your expenses, such as monthly bills, housing costs, and car payments. Once you’ve outlined your necessary expenses, you can work on cutting back where possible. For example, consider energy-efficient appliances or LED light bulbs to reduce your electricity bill or use public transportation instead of dealing with car costs.

Is there a specific type of savings account best suited for those with low income? 

Yes, for those who want to save money fast, opening a high-yield savings account can be a smart move. This type of account offers higher interest rates than regular savings accounts, ensuring you earn more money over time.

How can I handle unexpected expenses on a tight budget?

Setting up an emergency fund is crucial. Even if you’re working with a low income, putting aside just a few taps of extra money from your monthly payments into this fund can save you from debt in the face of unexpected expenses. Additionally, comparing prices for essential items or services can help you spend less money.

How do I prioritize paying down debt when I have little income? 

Focus on the high-interest debts first, such as credit card debt. If you have car payments, consider if there’s a way to reduce or refinance them. Remember, debt repayments, especially high-interest ones, can eat into your budget money fast.

Are there community resources to help with financial planning for low-income households?

Absolutely. Many communities offer free events or sessions at the local library where personal finance writers or experts share tips on how to save money fast on a low income. They might discuss topics like pre-tax savings options, employer match programs, or ways to reduce taxable income.

What are some ways to save money on grocery shopping and utility bills for those on a strict budget?

For grocery shopping, consider using coupons, shopping during sales, and buying in bulk when possible. For utility bills, investing in energy-efficient appliances or simple changes like switching to LED light bulbs can make a difference. Also, always be on the lookout for community events or programs that might offer support or discounts.

How can I ensure I don’t fall back into bad money habits? 

Automated savings can help. By setting up direct deposit, where a portion of your income automatically goes into your savings account, you can resist the urge to spend money impulsively. Additionally, using a budgeting app can be beneficial, reminding you of your financial goals and helping you keep track of your spending habits.

How can debt consolidation help me save money?

Debt consolidation can be a game-changer, especially for those grappling with multiple student loan payments or other debts. By consolidating your debts, you combine multiple payments into a single monthly payment, often with a reduced interest rate. This can simplify your financial life, potentially lower your monthly payments, and free up extra money in your budget. Over time, this saved extra money can then be directed towards other financial goals or into a savings account or simply your bank account, further boosting your financial stability.

Key Takeaways From CreditNinja

Saving on a low income can certainly present its own set of challenges, but as outlined in this article, it is not an impossible task. 

With the right tools, strategies, and determination, you can not only save money but also thrive financially—in the short term and even with retirement savings. Whether it’s leveraging a strict budget, cutting down essential expenses, shopping smarter, or taking advantage of high-yield savings accounts, every step you take brings you closer to financial freedom. 

At CreditNinja, we believe in empowering individuals with the knowledge and resources to make informed financial decisions. Remember, your financial journey is unique to you, but with dedication and the right strategies, you can achieve your money goals, no matter your income. Stay informed, stay proactive, and remember—every little bit counts.

References:

  1. Section 2: Today’s Low-income America | The Justice Gap Report
  2. Consumer Expenditure | Bureau of Labor Statistics

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