While it may seem impossible to save money while you’re broke there are solutions!
A recent study found that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. With staggering numbers like that, it isn’t a wonder why this is an national epidemic.While it may seem impossible to save money while you’re broke there are solutions!
A recent study found that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. With staggering numbers like that, it isn’t a wonder why this is an national epidemic.
1. No Amount Is Too Small
Saving money, especially when you are deep in a hole, can be very overwhelming. It is important that up front you recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are $10,000 in debt, and can manage to put away $3.33/day ($100/mo) it will take a little over 8 years to be debt free.
When you are broke, you won’t be able to put away a big chunk at once, so chipping away is the best way to get. These are other strategies to get money to help chip away at that debt or save money even if you’re broke.
2. A la carte – Cancel Subscriptions
We have tons of bills that we are told we need in order to “save” money. A lot these subscriptions can be magazines, gym memberships, and Netflix.
Trim is a great app for finding subscriptions that you may have forgotten about. The great part is they can cancel many of them on your behalf.
Keep track for 3 months of how much you actually use / need the subscription services you “THINK” you need. I guarantee, you will have a lower bill than you think.
3. Trim / Learn to Negotiate Bills
Trim has another great feature, where they can negotiate bills on your behalf.
They have monitoring in your area and can get things like your cable bill lowered if there is a power outage in your area. They are completely free, and just take a small percentage of the money they save you. 0 downside, only free money to gain.
The other thing you can do to save money, regardless of how much you make, is to learn that fact that almost everything is negotiable. Even bills with contracts.
Some of the most negotiable bills are cable, internet, and credit card interest. I recently learned a strategy that saved me several thousand dollars in my business’ internet bills.
Do a little homework, research other competitors rates in your area, or see if your current provider has special offers. Have this ready for ammunition.
Call your provider, and say you need to speak to the cancellation department, you cannot afford their service anymore. Be pleasant and let them know you love their service, but “times are tough” and you need to make cuts.
DO NOT ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER! I came in wanting to lower my bill $50 per month, and when I called, explained that I researched there are lower rates in my area, my provider immediately offered me a $100/mo discount.
I was about to jump on it, but remembered, DO NOT ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER! I told them, I really appreciate it, but need to cancel, unless they can speak to a manager and make a special exception.
The agent came back and ended up taking an extra $100 because . I am saving an extra $1,200 every year from now on because of a 30 minute phone call. This is another great way to save money when you’re broke. Remember, worst case, you can just back out and your bill will remain the same.
4. Mint / Track Everything
When I work as a financial coach, I always have my clients set up an account on www.mint.com. This will help you get a good snapshot of how much you are currently spending and how much you have coming in.
Once you get clarity on what is going out and coming in, you can start to make changes.
Spoiler alert – you are eating out way too often, cut that number in half and you can save money, even if you’re broke.
Keep track of the categories where you are spending money, and stick to the budget. Cutting 5% is very easy, and can save you a substantial amount of money over time.
If you make $30,000 per year, and save 5%, you have an extra $1,500 to put into savings, or pay off debt (depending on your situation).
5. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the latest craze. On top of countless health benefits, you are saving $10-$15 every day on lunch.
This strategy is judgement free, frugal, and healthy. Skipping lunch each day will put an extra $5,200 per year in your pocket and savings, regardless of your spending habits.
6. Automate Your Savings
Being broke is a mindset and a habit based issue. Many people get raises, and are still just as broke. Psychologically, you have money, and you spend it.
Even though you know it is wrong to do, there is cognitive dissonance where you do the opposite of what you know you need to be doing.
If you put a small amount of savings automatically away, even $10/week, you will have an extra $520 you didn’t know was there at the end of the year.
I’ve used many different banking institutions in the past several years and they all have automatic ways to transfer money from savings to checking.
Hint: Make your savings account in an online bank so it is difficult to move money from savings to checking. This can help you save you from yourself when in a moment of weakness.
7. Refinance Your Debt
Interest is one of the most expensive things you can pay for. It is a punishment for spending money that you don’t have. The good news is, since interest is basically invented money if it is charged on an unsecured line of credit like a credit card, the financial institutions may be willing to work with you.
Negotiate those interest bills, it is a very profitable skill to have!
If you have multiple cards with a balance, there may be offers to consolidate your debt in one lower interest bank.
Do research on loans that can consolidate your debt. Chip away at that bill as much as you can. Use the extra money you save in these steps and get back to $0.
8. Buy used
When purchasing “things” you can almost always find a deal on used goods. If it isn’t urgent that you get something brand new in a box, getting used items is a great alternative.
When I started the podcast, I wasn’t 100% committed. I purchased all new equipment, and then wrote this blog.
Thanks to Amazon’s very lenient return policy, I returned the equipment that I bought brand new, and saved 50% by buying the exact same items on eBay. I did side by side testing, and they had the exact same quality – just half the price. Eventually, my brand new items will become used – let’s save money and skip the steps.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”
It doesn’t even have to be trash, just someone not needing an item you want. Some of the best marketplaces to check are Facebook Marketplace, eBay, OfferUp, and Let Go.
9. Sell Stuff
Want to get a big head start on saving money, even when you don’t have any? Sell your stuff!
This is a triple win, you clean your living space of things that you don’t need or use anymore, you help someone else, and you make money.
Review the items in your house and think about whether or not you have used them in the last year. You can also use the Marie Kondo method of asking yourself “Does this item bring me joy?” as a way to decide whether or not you should keep or sell your items.
Most people are amazed at what they find lying around the house: old toys, video games, baby toys, clothes, gifts, trinkets all adding up to hundreds of dollars. You can put this money directly into savings or paying down debt, even if you’re broke.
10. Avoid Late Fees, Tickets, Fines
While this may seem like an obvious thing, it happens very often. One of my clients for financial coaching actually had issues with paying ATM fees. It is “only $5” here and there. But $5 every week is $260 you can be putting away each year.
Parking tickets are another big one, $30-$100 per ticket. Be aware when you’re parking, even if you avoid one per year, it is money you aren’t wasting and can save. You can also call a lot of companies and just ask for the fines to get dropped, sometimes they will do it! I had a client retroactively get $500 in fees dropped with a 10 minute phone call. Big wins!
11. Savings & Affiliate Plugins
I am a big fan of automatic free money. I am also a fan of coupon codes. Alas, Honey solves my problems. It is a simple plugin that detects when you are at a checkout on a website, and finds the best coupon code to save you money. Put that money into savings.
Swagbucks is another app that detects if websites use affiliate links and they pay you for shopping where you already shop. The idea didn’t make sense to me, but the way it works is basically: eBay has an affiliate program, they pay 8% for referred traffic. Swagbucks detects you are on eBay and says, hey use our link. They get paid 8% and give 5% to you for clicking their link. They didn’t have to do anything, and neither did you.
This is great for booking travel as many hotels use affiliate links. Again, this runs in the background and is free money for you. These extensions are an answer to how to save money even if you live paycheck to paycheck.
12. Buy Gift Cards Where You Usually Shop
There are plenty of places you can buy gift cards for things you normally buy anyway. As I was writing this blog, I checked out Netflix gift cards on eBay and found a $60 gift card for $30. I was going to pay for the subscription anyway (my wife and I have use it daily for years), but saved $30. I ended up buying 2 of them, so I saved $60 with a quick search on buying a gift card at a discount online.
Usually, the savings aren’t 50%, but you can still get free money by purchasing gift cards where you usually shop. I suggest putting together a list of your top 3 places that you consistently go to. Things like grocery store, favorite restaurant, gas station, etc. are great places to look.
Find the places first THEN shop for gift cards. Don’t buy them for the sake of buying them. You will end up having gift cards that you don’t use and it is then stuck money.
I find discounted gift cards on eBay.
13. Side Hustle
There are tons of freelancing websites where you can part time hustle for a few extra dollars. One of the easiest ways to earn extra money is to drive for Uber or Lyft. Many entrepreneurs I do coaching for use that as a way to fill the gaps when they start out.
14. Eat In
Restaurants, even “cheap” one’s are a huge expense. Financial coaching 101: look at where the client spends money in restaurants, and cut that number in half.
When you check your account on Mint, you will see, so much money gets spent on eating out and we don’t even notice. Stop eating out, learn to cook, very great life skills and it will help you save money, even if you’re broke.
15. Bike or Walk When Possible
Cars can be very expensive paying for gasoline and maintenance. If you have things nearby, enjoy the great outdoors, get some exercise, and save money. When I first moved to Florida, I didn’t have a car and out of necessity, biked to and from work, to and from Target for groceries, and was in great shape. When push comes to shove, having a backpack, change of clothes, and a good bike can save you a lot of money.
There are plenty of ways to save money when you’re broke. Keep in mind, this is not an overnight fix. Saving money is difficult and sometimes, you need extra help from a financial coach.
If you’d like a free 30 minute consultation on ways for you to save money, even if you live paycheck to paycheck click here.