Saving money is hard for just about anybody, but it’s exponentially harder to figure out how to save money when you’re broke. Making smart decisions now can change everything for you later, but what are you supposed to do when you don’t have the money to make better decisions?
Learning how to save money when you have no money can be complicated, but if you start now I promise that you’ll see a change in your future.
This blog post is going to outline some things that will help you figure out how to survive being broke and eventually stop being broke so you can have tons of money in the bank!
In this post, we’re going to discuss 10 ways to save money when you’re broke:
- Start a Budget
- Set Up An Emergency Fund
- Pay Yourself FIRST
- Refinance Debt
- Start a Separate Savings Account
- Start Small
- Increase Your Income
- Adjust Your Lifestyle
- Cancel Subscriptions
- Pay Bills On Time
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How To Save Money When You’re Broke
1. Start a Budget
I get a lot of emails from my readers asking questions like “hey, I’m really struggling with starting a budget. Do you have any tips for how to budget when you’re broke?”.
Those emails always make me smile because even if you’re broke, just the fact that you’re thinking of starting a budget is an amazing first step.
When we feel like we have absolutely no money it can be really hard to figure out how to create a budget that will work for us. I have a few suggestions, of course!
When you’re trying to figure out how to start a budget when you’re broke it’s a good plan to start by creating something called a Bare Bones Budget.
This is a very basic budget that would cover your living costs and food and necessary transportation during a month and it’s purpose is to show you the minimum amount of money you need to bring in in order to survive.
Related Post: How to Create a Bare Bones Budget
Once you have this bare bones budget created, you can move on to a Zero-Based Budget system that will allow you to work in all of the extras that you don’t need to survive but that make life a little sweeter.
Just having a budget will teach you so much about how you use your money and can really change the way you operate financially! If you really want to create an awesome budget I suggest you take our FREE 5 Days to a Beautiful Budget course which you can sign up for below:
2. Set Up An Emergency Fund
Having some emergency money set aside makes it exponentially easier to save money. An emergency fund allows you to cover unexpected issues without having to dip into your regular savings account or having to use credit.
The real recommended amount of money to have in an emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses, but you’re reading a post with the word broke in the title, so I assume that would be pretty hard to build up.
This is why you should start with a $1000 emergency fund for now, and just keep building it up until you reach the 3-6 months of expenses mark.
If you think $1000 is a lot to try and save, start small. You can always sell old clothes, old books, you can babysit, rake leaves, shovel snow, do pretty much anything you can to get some extra cash and put it into your emergency fund.
3. Pay Yourself FIRST
A lot of people who see themselves as broke think advice like pay yourself first is advice only for people who have a ton of money. However, it’s important to remember that no amount is too small.
Let’s say that tomorrow you start putting $5 a week into a savings account every week when you get paid. You put this money into your savings before you pay your bills, or buy yourself anything.
At the end of the year you’ll have $260 in savings that wasn’t there before. This isn’t money that you can retire on, but it is money that will help you when bad things happen and ensure that you don’t end up further in debt than you already may be.
4. Refinance Debt
Debt can be debilitating and really make it so we aren’t able to get any money in our savings accounts. Especially since so many of our interest rates are so high!
A great way to try and minimize your monthly payments and your interest rate is to see if you’re eligible to refinance that debt.
Refinancing is just a fancy word for a debt company technically paying off your debt and becoming your new lender and giving you a lower interest rate which will save you money over time.
Refinancing is very popular for student loan debt since for many people that’s one of the biggest loans we’ll ever have!
5. Start a Separate Savings Account
For the first 5 years after I started working (16-21), I saved pretty much $0. I was able to pay for most of my University education, but didn’t have any money in the bank and had too much useless junk. The main thing I blame for that? Never actually setting up a legit savings accounts. I had one single chequing account and nothing else.
The issue with only having one bank accoun tis that you have such easy access to your “savings”. An everyday chequing account is meant just for that, everyday transactions. It makes it really hard to distinguish between your savings and your spending money.
The first step toward saving money when you don’t have much is to keep that money separate.
If you’re anything like me and you know you’ll have trouble not touching the money in your savings account, you should put it into an account that’s harder to get into. If you’re really bad, you can have your savings in an account, and give the debit card to a trusted family member or friend.
6. Start Small
When you’re trying to figure out how to survive being broke it’s best to start small. If you decide tomorrow “oh! I’m going to cut out all my unnecessary expenses and spend no money ever” you’re not going to make it very far.
The best thing you can do is to slowly cut out expenses that you don’t really need.
Last year, we wrote a blog post called 10 Items To Stop Buying to Save Money that is an awesome place to start saving in little ways that won’t affect your life majorly.
Another awesome way to save money easily in a small way is to use an app like Checkout 51 to get cashback when you buy groceries. Since you can’t stop buying food it’s important that you try and save money on food in as many ways as possible.
- Related: How To Save Money on Groceries
7. Increase Your Income
If you’re broke, chances are you’re experiencing an income problem and the only true way to deal with an income crisis is to improve your income.
You can try and save money in a ton of ways, but you’ll always just be spinning your wheels and nothing will get better. I totally understand that your situation may not be able to accept another full-time job, or even a part-time job, but there are a ton of other ways you can make money on your own terms.
The internet has completely changed the ways we can make money, some of my favourite ways to earn money without a job include:
- How to Make Money Dog Walking
- How to Start a Blog
- 4 Non-Computer Side Hustles
- How to Create Passive Income
8. Adjust Your Lifestyle
There have been times where I say that I’m broke, but I just spent $40 on a manicure and $100 on a dinner with my friends. Are you actually broke? Or are you just living above your means?
If you’re the level of broke where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you can skip this step.
If you’re “broke” but still have the cash to go out with your friends and get a manicure, you need to rethink your habits and make some real lifestyle changes.
Some things you should try if you’re “broke“:
- Try a Spending Freeze: You can learn a lot about your habits if you simply aren’t allowed to spend money for a month unless it’s something you need to survive. Only buy groceries and gas and pay your bills, nothing else and see how your habits change.
- Track Your Income: Tracking your income for a few weeks or a few months is one of the best ways to see where you throw your money away from day to day. A great way to do this is to use the Highlighter Method.
Some simple things you can in order to adjust your lifestyle and save tons of money in the process:
- Use more public transportation
- Get a roommate
- Move back home for a few months if possible
- Cook more
- Make your morning coffee at home
9. Cancel Subscriptions
Chances are you’re paying for at least one monthly subscription if you’re living in the super digital world that I live in. There are so many options these days: Netflix, Audible, Just Fab, and so many others are out there and offer so much.
However, if you’re walking around saying things like “I’m broke, how do i save money when I have none?” then you probably shouldn’t be paying money every month for things that you don’t actually need.
Subscription services are an amazing place to start cutting and will save you money each month without changing your daily life a ton.
10. Pay Bills On Time
When you have very little money, there’s nothing worse than throwing that money away on late fees from missing a bill payment.
If you’re already behind on bills you should check What To Do When You’re Behind on Bills, it can help you get out of this cycle.
Paying your bills on time may feel seriously impossible sometimes and that’s why having a Bare Bones Budget is so effective because it will make sure you have enough money for the absolute necessities and get rid of the rest.
Bonus Tip: Try a Savings Challenge
Okay, 10 tips just isn’t enough for me. So here’s a bonus tip! I’m a giant fan of doing small challenges to force me to change things about my life.
If you can’t find ways to save money doing a savings challenge can be a great option for you. It’s your lucky day! We created one last year that you can do easily, check it out here.
This isn’t going to be easy for you if you’re broke, but being broke is a state of mind. If you think you’re going to be broke forever, chances are you will be. Focus on making small changes to your life and you’ll be able to change the world. And always remember to fake it until you make it.