If you’re looking for tips on how to save money on a low income, you’re in the right place!
We understand that the thought of getting out of debt and saving money seems much easier if you have a fabulous paycheck. But, saving money has more to do with how you manage your money rather than the amount you earn.
So, first off, let me encourage you. Regardless of how you feel or what you’ve been told, you can almost always find ways to save money. The question then really comes down to this: “Are you willing to make it happen?” That will involve giving up some of the things you like and want NOW so that you can create the financial margin that you need to succeed long-term.
Are you one of those, “Just tell me what I need to do” people? I hear you! We’ve put together some of our favorite, tried and tested money-saving tips to help you effectively save money on a low income. So let’s get to it!
How to Save Money on a Low Income
1. Lower your energy bill
There are several ways to lower your energy costs. To get started, try the following:
- Switch to LED lighting
- Use natural light often
- Adjust your thermostat
- Use a ceiling fan in the summer
- Wash your clothes in cold water
- Seal cracks in your home
- Use a low-flow showerhead
2. Shop for insurance rates
Rather than assuming that you have the best rates on homeowners and auto insurance, do a bit of shopping around. We suggest that you shop rates every 1 to 2 years. Often times you may find a better price with a different company or if you let your current provider know you’re wanting to switch, they may lower your rates!
3. Use credit card reward points
If you’re diligent with your spending and not prone to overspend your budget, then using a credit card can be a great way to ring up extra rewards. Avoid paying interest by setting up automatic payments each month. Why not earn cash back on purchases you plan to make anyways?
4. Use cash back apps to save money on a low income
Another way to earn money on your purchases is by using cash back apps! Many apps will deposit cash directly into your bank account once you hit a minimum threshold or you can cash in points for gift cards. For more info, check out our list of the Best Cash Back Apps!
5. Avoid eating out
Eating out is convenient but most of the time it’s more expensive than cooking at home. You can cut costs and save money on a low income by bringing your lunch to work each day and building your meals around these 49+ cheap foods. If you have a special occasion and decide to eat out, you’ll want to know these money-saving tips: Break ALL the Rules and Save Money Eating Out!
Thrifty Tip: Plan on making extra of your favorite meals and then freezing it. Then, when you’re tired and tempted to just pick up something for dinner, you’ll have a few quick meals on hand to choose from.
6. Downsize to 1 vehicle
For most people, their biggest expenses revolve around their home and automobile(s). You may not be in a position to downsize your house, but you may be able to downsize the number of cars you own.
Downsizing your vehicle will help reduce expenses on gas, insurance, and maintenance! When you do the math, that really adds up quickly.
7. Work closer to home
If you can’t find ways to increase your income by advancing your career, you may be able to find a job with other benefits that offset your work-related expenses.
Even if it’s a lateral move, working closer to home could you money in ways such as transportation expenses, and meals!
8. Make your own gifts
Giving gifts to others is incredibly rewarding and fun! But, let’s face it, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays can get really expensive. To save money on a low income, consider making gifts instead of buying. For inspiration, we love this roundup from The Spruce Girls on 100 Great Ideas for Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!
9. Become your own barista
Coffee is LIFE in the morning. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t whip up some delicious coffee at home and forego the expensive drive-thru lattes!
If you’re prone to buying coffees, teas, and other expensive beverages on a regular basis, consider making your drink at home and taking it to go. The good news is that there are tons of amazing creamers and syrups on the market these days to help you spruce up that drink. You will save so much money and time by becoming your own barista.
10. Save your change
This is a simple, old-school tip. Saving your change isn’t about finding ways to save money, like most of the tips on this list. Instead, it’s about learning to use everything to the last drop.
Whenever you break a dollar, have a designated place to store that change. Then, every few months take time to count your change and deposit it into the bank. You won’t get rich this way, but you’ll develop a new appreciation for every cent and will find a few extra bucks to add to your savings goals.
11. Find entertainment on the cheap
Saving money doesn’t mean giving up everything you love. In most cases, it means looking for less expensive alternatives. Rather than investing in an expensive vacation, consider visiting friends and family and staying with them.
Instead of buying DVDs, check them out from your local library. Go for walks, go camping, look for local free music events…I think you get the picture. The point is to get creative, think outside of the box, and learn to enjoy the simple (and FREE) things in life.
If you have kids, check out these incredible tips for keeping them entertained for free!
12. Create a budget to save money on a low income
If you’re unsure where your money is going each month, you’ll need to get a handle on things. Having a budget does not restrict your spending. Instead, it puts intentionality behind every purchase you make and gives you the freedom to spend because you planned for it!
13. Cancel subscription services
We’re all guilty of signing up for more services than what we need. That’s particularly true when it comes to video streaming services like YouTube Premium or Amazon Prime. If you haven’t used the services in a while, then you may be paying for something you don’t really need.
Thrifty Tip: Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “Well, it’s ONLY $10 a month.” Instead, annualize that monthly expense. It’ll give you a more realistic number of what that expense will cost you in a year’s time.
14. Hand wash your clothing
Washing machines and dryers are true technological advancements. They save a ton of time! But they also add to your utility bill and can be harsh on clothes. Take it back old school and hand wash your garments! Then hang them out to dry instead of using an electric dryer.
15. Get a side hustle
If you don’t have the ability to advance your career or ask for a raise at your current job, you can almost always find ways to make a little extra money on the side. There are a ton of side hustle ideas out there.
If you’re interested in starting a side hustle but aren’t sure where to begin, check out these resources for additional help:
7 Genius Side Hustle Ideas for the Disney Lover
Beginner’s Guide: Make Money with Cricut
Everything Needed to Start Mystery Shopping!
16. Be smart with your tax refund
For many people, their tax return is the largest lump sum of cash they’ll receive all year. Rather than going crazy and updating your wardrobe or going on an expensive vacation, make a plan to use that money wisely. In addition to increasing your savings, here are 10 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund.
17. Take advantage of employer sponsored plans
If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and aren’t enrolled in it, then you’re leaving free money on the table! Many employers will match an employee’s contributions to a 401K. If you’re not ready to heavily invest, at least contribute enough to max out what your employer matches from your paycheck (typically 1-3%).
18. Use it up
Squeeze that toothpaste tube to get the last drop, add a little water to soap dispensers, and turn that ketchup bottle upside down. Those are just a few ways to make sure that you’re using everything up. Be intentional about getting the most out of every product you buy. Over time this habit will allow you to reduce spending and increase savings.
19. Reduce food waste to save money on a low income
We, as Americans, throw out an insanely large amount of food. Not only is this bad for the environment; but it’s also bad for our wallets. Wasted food costs money. So, to be sure you don’t let food expire, move older products to the front of your cupboards, cook with perishables before they expire, and freeze products!
For more ideas, check out How to Save Money on Groceries: the ULTIMATE Guide and The Ultimate Cheap Grocery List for a Month!
20. Borrow rather than buy
Kids share just about everything. But, for some reason, when we grow up, we tend to stop sharing. Get back in the habit of lending and borrowing.
For example, rather than buying that specialty tool for a home repair project, ask around and see if you can borrow it. You’ll save a bundle! Just remember to take care of items that don’t belong to you and to return the favor when you can.
21. Make your own cleaner
Let’s face it, cleaning products can be pricey! One of the easiest ways to save money on a low income is to make your own all-surface cleaner. Most homemade cleaners consist of simple, inexpensive ingredients like water, baking soda, and white vinegar. Chances are you have these ingredients on hand already. If not, they’re very affordable, stretch a long way, and are non-toxic.
22. Pick up a money-saving skill
Having a hobby is not only great for mental health, but it can also save you money! If you’re looking to develop money-saving skills, consider things like baking, sewing, and basic carpentry. Once you develop these skills, you can save yourself money by providing these services to yourself instead of hiring someone else to do it for you!
23. Automate your savings to save money on a low income
We’ve gone over a lot of simple, money-saving tips. But, none of those tips matter, if the money you’ve saved doesn’t find its way into something like a savings account. To make sure that you’re saving money, no matter what, set up an automatic draft to a savings account.
Start small, something like $25, and have it debited out of your checking account each month. Before long, you’ll have a nice little nest egg for retirement, emergencies, or even a downpayment on a house.
Thrifty Tip: To make sure you’re not tempted to dip into your savings account, consider using a different bank for your savings as opposed to your checking account. This will add one additional layer of protection, making it harder for you to get quick access to those funds in the event of an impulse buy.
We hope this list has inspired you with new ways to save money on a low income. If you’re looking for more tips on how to boost your savings fast, check out How To Save $5000 in 3 Months: The Ultimate Checklist and our list of 11 Debt Free Living Blogs to Follow this Year for additional personal financial resources on the web. Finally, if you’ve got a money-saving tip that you’d like to share, pass it along by dropping us a line in the comment section below!