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Ya’ll, let me tell you. My husband just dropped a huge financial bomb (full-time travel once our girls graduate!) on me the other day that has my brain in overdrive. Not a bad one, mind you, but one that means we will need to add around $100,000 to our savings over the next three years or so. I am positive we could do it cheaper and very likely will, but I am okay spending that amount of money for the place where we will ultimately spend the rest of our lives together. But…
Cue the panic attack.
The whole conversation got me thinking; and remembering. I didn’t always have a second income. In fact, I didn’t always have a livable income. I grew up in a trailer that my Dad paid $5,000 to the church for, lived on any public assistance I could receive until I was 27 and spent the majority of 2010 in a homeless shelter with my daughter.
I remember how impossible it felt to save money when you simply don’t make enough money to survive. And now that we don’t struggle that way, I wanted to do a post to help you save money when you have none.
I remember that I used to tell people that I didn’t want to be rich; I just wanted enough money to pay my bills and feed my daughter with a little left over.
Sound familiar? I’m sure it does.
But these days, it seems that more and more families are struggling not only to save money but also to just make ends meet. This is one – and probably the biggest – reason that learning how to save money when you have none is so incredibly important.
It gives you the buffer you need if you have a month or two where you just can’t pay everything on your regular income.
How to Save Money When You Have None
Before you even begin trying to save money when you’re broke though, I want you to understand something.
What you are trying to do will be incredibly difficult if you are already struggling, BUT not impossible.
The key to being successful at is lies in how you manage your money from here on out, in getting current on all of your financial obligations and in how badly you truly want to save.
This means that there are a couple of things I think you should do before you get started. They are:
- Create a budget if you do not already have one – or update your budget if you do. You can learn how to create a simple budget HERE.
- Buy an expense tracker like THIS one.
- Switch your savings account to an external bank. I like CIT Bank for this. I’ll explain this in a moment.
How to Save Money When You’re Broke
Once you’ve either created or updated your budget, It’s time to get started saving more of your money than you are right now.
To start, make absolutely certain that you need every expense that is on your new budget. Chances are that there are at least one or two that can be removed.
These can include things such as subscriptions you no longer need, old debts that are paid off and kids activities they no longer participate in.
Take them off your budget and assign that cash some place else.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck currently, it’s wisest to use that money to help catch up bills or other things you’re behind on.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, this is a great time to put a few tips for helping you stop living paycheck to paycheck into place. The quicker you can free yourself up a bit, the better.
If you’re living anyway other than paycheck to paycheck, take the money you just opened up in your budget and immediately put it into your savings account or under the mattress.
How to Save Money if You Live Paycheck to Paycheck
You should also decide how intense you want to be at your attempts at saving money while you’re broke. You have the choice of only going at it mildly or getting so intense that saving money becomes your only active goal.
I recommend you either go somewhere in the middle or fully intense and focused.
If you choose to go at it only a little bit, know that it will take you considerably longer and you may not actually make the goals you’ve set for yourself.
When we don’t firmly set a goal in our minds, it’s easy for us to pass it off; especially when it comes to spending money and allowing ourselves to be talked into it.
This is why intensity is important; especially when you’re working on saving money but don’t seem to have a lot to save. Dave Ramsey, one of my favorite financial guru’s, calls this “gazelle intense.”
When you’re living with this much intensity, your only goal – or your main goal – is to save which brings us to the next step.
How to Save Money Intensely
After you’ve removed the things from your budget that you no longer need to be paying for, the next thing you will want to do is take a second look at your budget.
This time, remove anything that could be considered a want with one exception; choose one fun activity that you currently pay for and keep it.
We all need a bit of fun in our lives and unless it’s a multi-hundred dollar hobby, it won’t make much of a difference in your savings.
If you’re trying to build savings, you shouldn’t be paying for anything other than your basic necessities.
Take all wants out of your budget. Put that money into your savings account each month.
How to Cut Your Expenses to Build Your Savings Account
Now that your budget is taken care of, it’s time to look at your other expenses. The more you are able to reduce your necessary expenses the more money you’ll have to save.
They may not seem as if they will be much help, but even small savings add up. Things such as:
- Using printable grocery coupons whenever possible
- Using grocery rebates such as what Ibotta offers
- Earning free gift cards to pay for things instead of cash with Swagbucks (HERE) and InstaGC (HERE)
- Skipping your morning coffee or making it at home
- Putting your lights on a timer
- Raising your thermostat by 2 degrees in the summer or lowering it by 2 degrees in the winter
- Walk more instead of driving
- Do what you can to reduce food waste.
- Make more at home so you can buy less.
They are all small actions but the more small actions you do, the more money you’ll have to save.
Pennies do add up my friends.
Saving money – even when you don’t have any – is harder than it is for those who have extra income.
But if you keep a positive attitude and really work at it, you will slowly but surely build your savings up.
You can do it. I have faith in you!
Looking for more ways to save money? Try these:
Homemade hand soap is incredibly easy to make and works just as well – if not better – than the original! THIS copycat SoftSoap recipe is just what your home needs! All for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it!
Are you wasting money in your budget? Probably so and you don’t even know it! Check out THESE 20 most common wastes of money and stop throwing your money away on them today!
If you have been looking for things to make, THESE 30 things to make at home to save money are a great place to start! I’ve saved over $2500 with them!