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Know Where You're Starting From

Imagine you’re taking a long road trip. You wouldn’t just grab your jacket and jump in the car, right? You’d probably check your GPS and see how long the trip will take. Or how much gas you’ll need and when you’ll get there. Maybe even where you’ll stop for lunch. So to save money, especially on a low income, it’s best to know where you’re starting from. Budgets have a bad reputation. They’re hard to create, hard to maintain, they limit your life… and this may be why most people don’t use one. But they’re really not. In fact, the hardest thing about budgets is that they’ll tell us things we might not want to hear. Frank Sonnenberg said, “Truth is not what it seems, but what it is.” Getting it down on paper will show where your money leaks are, and give you a heads up on where to focus first for the quickest impact. And just as important, keeping a budget will give you an apples-to-apples comparison from month to month. Seeing your progress can be really motivating. A budget will help you to get more – not less out of life. [1]

Reduce Unnecessary Spending to Increase Savings

If you’re finding that putting even a little bit into your savings account each payday is difficult, you may need to reduce expenses. Assess your budget and see which expenses can be reduced or eliminated.

  • Do you have a cable TV subscription you can cancel?

  • Can you switch to a cheaper cell phone plan?

  • Is there a company that will charge you less for auto insurance?

  • Can you spend less on entertainment or eating out?

Reducing unnecessary expenses in order to boost your savings may seem painful at first. But I promise it will be worth the sacrifice once you see your savings account balance sitting at four or five digits. [2]

Find Free or Affordable Entertainment

One area of your budget that is entirely variable is your entertainment budget. You have the power to overspend in a big way with entertainment. On the flip side, some frugal fun can allow you to pad your savings without feeling deprived. Here are a few of my favorite entertainment options that don’t break the budget:

  • Matinee movies.

  • Host dinner parties instead of going out.

  • Go for a hike.

  • Practice cooking with your significant other.

  • Look for free museums to explore.

Do some research in your area to find the best frugal entertainment options. [3]

Meal Planning Has An Immediate Impact

Food costs are surprisingly one of the top two or three monthly expenses for most people. It tends to slip through the cracks because we buy food in so many ways. Groceries, work lunches, restaurants, take-out, convenience stores. Planning your meals for a week isn’t hard. And if you can go to the store once and come home with all the food you’ll need for every meal and snack for an entire week, it’s common to save several hundred dollars a month. [4]

Increase Your Income to Save Money Faster

Another way to save more money on a tight budget is to earn more income. For instance, you could get a part-time job at a local store or restaurant. Or you could start your own small business. Other options include selling stuff you no longer need or doing some “retail arbitrage”: getting a great item for free or cheap and then selling it for a profit.

Another thought: Work some extra hours at work, then ask for a raise. Or do the reverse of increasing your income and try to reduce your expenses. Find a way to lower your house payment or rent. Go on a strict spending ban for a month or two and try spending money only when you absolutely have to. Work to get lower rates on other regular expenses. As you lower your monthly expenses, you can take the extra money and transfer it to your savings account. [5]

Evaluate Your Car Costs

A car can come with thousands of dollars of annual upkeep and maintenance each year. In addition to a car payment, you also have to contend with several other expenses. Car insurance and repairs are just the tips of the expensive iceberg. You can lower these costs in a few ways.

  • Comparison shop for car insurance. You might be able to save hundreds of dollars each year by switching to a different insurance company.

  • Eliminate your car payment. Try to pay off your car early. In the future, avoid financing a car when possible due to the high costs.

  • Use less fuel. You can cut down on fuel costs by using public transportation or biking to work.

  • DIY car repairs. Although you might not want to do major repairs, think about taking care of basic repairs yourself. You can save money while learning a new skill!

Get creative when it comes to cutting your transportation costs. [6]


[1] Common Cents Hub Editorial Staff. "How to Save Money on a Low Income." Common Cents Hub, 19 May 2021,

[2] Blank, Laurie. "How To Start Saving When Money Is Tight." Clark, 19 May 2021,

[3] Sarah. "13 Ways to Save Money on a Low Income." Clever Girl Finance, 19 May 2021,

[4] Common Cents Hub Editorial Staff. "How to Save Money on a Low Income." Common Cents Hub, 19 May 2021,

[5] Blank, Laurie. "How To Start Saving When Money Is Tight." Clark, 19 May 2021,

[6] Sarah. "13 Ways to Save Money on a Low Income." Clever Girl Finance, 19 May 2021,



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