Struggling to save money? You're not alone. With the rising costs of housing, food, gas and more, it can feel impossible to find extra cash. But there are realistic ways to start building your savings, even on a limited income.
This article will walk you through actionable tips to start saving money, in four categories: lowering bills, earning more, cutting back, and getting government assistance. With small steps, you can free up cash to create financial breathing room or reach your money goals faster.
Reduce Your Biggest Bills
Monthly bills like your phone, electricity bill, and loan payments, can eat up a large chunk of your paycheck. But you may be able to negotiate lower rates or find better deals to free up cash flow.
Look at Your Cell Phone Bill
Call your cell phone company and request a cheaper plan based on your actual usage. Just using less data or minutes can lead to savings. If they won't budge, research competitors for the best rate on unlimited talk and text, even with a basic data allowance. A little legwork can unlock hundreds in annual and monthly savings on your phone bill.
Later in this article, we'll cover a way you could completely eliminate your cell phone bill and still have great service.
Check Your Credit Cards and Loans
Next, check interest rates on any credit cards or loans. If your credit has improved since getting the original loan, you may now qualify for a lower interest rate by refinancing. This directly reduces the amount that goes toward interest each month, lowering your payment.
For credit cards, you can request a lower APR or transfer the balance to a card offering 0% introductory interest. Every dollar not going to interest is a dollar you can save.
Look for credit cards that offer cash back or loyalty program points on your charges. Over time these benefits can add up.
Finally, audit your cable, internet, gas, and electric bills. Call the providers to politely ask for better rates or packages based on your loyalty. Emphasize you'll have to consider switching companies if they can't offer better deal or competitive pricing. This negotiation can potentially save you 5-15% on these services.
Earn Extra Money
Bringing in additional income is one of the fastest ways to boost your savings. With a side hustle or part-time gig, you can make money during your spare time and direct 100% of it toward savings goals.
Driving for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft is an easy way to earn extra cash on your own schedule. You simply turn on the app when you have availability and make money by giving people rides. It's possible to make over $20/hour during peak times. The income isn't guaranteed, but it's there when you have time.
Many of these rideshare apps are also connected to grocery shopping and delivery services for more ways to earn.
Selling unwanted items is another simple way to bring in money. Apps like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Craigslist give you access to local buyers. Price items fairly and clean them up nicely to maximize interest. You can also hold garage sales or sell to consignment shops.
Help Others with Needed Tasks
Check sites like TaskRabbit, Handy, or Thumbtack for short-term paid tasks like cleaning, repairs, deliveries or moving help. You name your price and set your schedule. These platforms connect you with people needing assistance so you can turn your skills into savings.
Change Your Spending Habits
Sometimes the best savings come from cutting unnecessary spending. But be mindful in reducing expenses so you don't feel deprived. Set yourself up for sustainable, long-term success.
One of the biggest monthly budget savers is cooking at home and meal prepping. Consider meatless options, basic staples like rice and pasta, and casseroles. Freezing batch leftovers reduces future cooking time. And bringing your own coffee and lunch to work makes a big difference.
Next, audit your subscriptions and memberships. Keep subscription services you regularly use and bring value. But cancel ones you won't miss that just autobill monthly. Small unused subscriptions can silently drain over $1000 yearly. Every cancellation feels like a raise.
For short local trips, walk or bike rather than drive when possible. This saves on gas and parking costs while benefitting your health. When commuting by car is unavoidable, use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations along your route.
Host inexpensive social activities like game nights, potlucks or movie marathons. Scale back paid events and entertainment outside the home. You'll still have fun while pocketing cash.
Lastly, always grocery shop with a list and use coupons or apps like Ibotta. Buying only the essentials you'll actually eat saves you time and reduces food waste. Meal plan and buy generic brands to keep grocery bills low.
Tap Into Saving Money with Government Assistance Programs
Government programs can provide extra support and savings opportunities if your income is limited. Benefits are often determined based on your household size, living expenses, and income.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) gives qualifying individuals monthly funds on an EBT card to purchase groceries. This can free up money in your budget for other needs.
Medicaid provides free or low-cost public health insurance to cover expenses like doctor visits, prescriptions, and emergency care. This protects you from massive medical bills.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) issues credits for heating and cooling utility bills. You can receive hundreds in winter energy costs or summer utility assistance.
The Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs offer discounts on cell phone bills for qualifying households. Providers like EASY Wireless even offer FREE monthly service, Unlimited Data, and Brand New Tablets for only $10.99 plus tax. It pays to check your eligibility.
With the average cell phone plan over $50 a month or $600 dollars a year, qualifying is the fastest way to save money in only a few minutes.
Automate Your Savings Account Deposits
Making savings automatic is a surefire way to effortlessly build your bank account balance. Set up routines that work in the background and grow your funds.
If possible, have a percentage of your paycheck use direct deposit into a separate savings account. This "pay yourself first" approach ensures you save before spending on wants. Out of sight, out of mind: savings goal.
You can also use "round up" and budgeting apps or programs. These round purchases up to the nearest dollar and deposit the change into savings. It adds up so much money much faster than you'd think.
Schedule recurring automatic transfers from your checking account to savings on paydays. Consistently saving any amount builds long-term wealth through investment accounts. Slow and steady does the trick.
Lastly, find a high-yield savings account for your emergency fund. This could be at your local community bank or with online banks that accept direct deposits. Look for savings accounts with rates over 4% APR to reduce the impact of inflation.
Start Putting More Money in Your Pocket
Using these money-saving tips, you can keep more of your hard-earned money. Small daily changes create big financial results over time. The key is staying disciplined and making your savings plan a habit.
Pick a few money-saving steps that fit your lifestyle and dive right in. With extra cash in hand, you can save money fast, gain confidence and reduce financial stress. What saving tip will you try first?