Everyone tells you to save money without telling how to save money! You’ve got to save for retirement. You’ve got to save for a new car. You’ve got to save for that trip you want to take.
From furniture to an emergency fund, we’ve all got a long list of things we need to save for. But...how are you supposed to save money when you barely have any?
It may sound like an impossible task, but trust us there are ways to save when you are on a strict budget! Let’s get into it.
Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
So, you haven’t got a lot of money, but know that saving is important. We’ve been there.
Here are a few things you can do to start saving, even if you’re not able to put away as much as you’d like to.
#1. Cut Back on Your Monthly Expenses
Sometimes, it feels like #adulting is all about choosing between your financial health and happiness. And it sucks. But, a great way to save is to cut back on some of the random purchases that might make you happy right after you purchase, but aren’t doing much to build your savings account long-term.
Maybe only get Starbucks once a week instead of everyday. Can you do your nails yourself and save the money you would have spent at the nail salon instead?
Don’t do anything extreme like cut back on your basic necessities. But, do go through your budget and figure out what expenses are miscellaneous.
In what category is your spending consistently over budget? How can you cut out or cut back on that expense? You’ve got to use your budget to save money, it’s literally there to help you meet your financial goals.
#2. Be Upfront About Your Savings Goals
You’ll hit your financial goals easier when your friends and family support you in pursuing them. Let the people in your life know that you’re trying to save more and then set some boundaries with them!
Maybe you say no to going to the birthday dinner at an expensive restaurant, but offer to bring your friend a cake or food the next day when they’re hungover.
PSA: Stop splitting the cost when you go out with friends equally if you all didn’t order equal amounts of food. There’s no reason for you to be contributing to their steak dinner when all you ordered was a salad.
#3. Use EXTRA
We’re the first debit card that helps you build credit. With EXTRA, you can build your all important credit score, while avoiding many of the traps that can come with having a credit card (like credit card debt). Extra rewards you for being responsible! We give you points on your purchases that you can use to buy yourself those Airpods or a meal kit from Blue Apron (and save some money when doing so instead of coming out of pocket).
#4. Negotiate Your Payments
At the end of the day, the people who loaned you money just want you to make progress toward paying them back even if it’s slow. So, don’t be afraid to ask them for payment terms that work for you.
Call your student loan servicer and ask for a lower monthly payment. Call whoever gave you the loan for your car and ask for a lower monthly car payment. Call your cell phone provider and ask for a lower bill.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to threaten to move your business elsewhere—it might give them extra incentive to work with you on your bill.
#5. Put Your Savings on Autopilot
So, you made a budget and know how much money to set aside each month, but don’t actually set it aside? That’s because you need to put your savings on autopilot.
Yeah, tell your bank to automatically move whatever amount you plan to save from one account to another on a set day, ideally as soon as you get paid. That way, the money is already in your savings account before you have a chance to talk yourself out of setting it aside.
Letting the robots do some of the work for you is an easy way to make sure you’re saving some money each month.
#6. Go Really Hard on Getting Rid of Debt
This might seem like a weird suggestion because in order to get rid of debt, especially that pesky credit card debt, you have to use money. But, in the long run, getting rid of your credit card and other forms of debt actually saves you money. Why? Because when you don’t owe anyone money you get to keep everything that you make and will not only have more to spend on life’s little luxuries, but will have more to put in your savings account.
#7. Sell Your Old Stuff and Save the Money You Make
That outfit you haven’t worn in years but are saving for a special occasion? Wear it or sell it. The jeans you’re keeping because you’re hoping to fit into them again someday? Sell them.
You have too much stuff bestie! And selling it is a relatively easy way to not only make more money, but improve your quality of life (or whatever those minimalists said getting rid of your junk would do).
Start a Depop shop or take your items to your local thrift store and see what they’re willing to buy off you. Put whatever proceeds you make into your savings account. And if you do this every few months, you’ll have a less cluttered life and fatter savings account.
#8. Cancel Some Subscriptions
Do you really need Spotify and Apple Music? The answer is no. Pick one, cancel the other, and put the $10 bucks into your savings account. Ten bucks might seem like nothing, but you have to start somewhere and it’s $10 more dollars to your name than you had yesterday.
We’re back on budgeting again. Your budget should have a record of the subscriptions you pay for monthly. Find some that you can let go. Does a friend have HBO Max? Cool, use theirs and let them use your Netflix in exchange. Then, you can put the money you spent on HBO Max into your savings account without having to miss any of your shows.
#9. Save Money When Shopping Online
There are so many browser extensions (like Honey or Rakuten) you can add to your computer that will automatically search for discount codes for you and then apply them to the items in your cart. Some of them even give you cash back on your purchases! Getting paid to shop? Sounds like heaven!
#10. Take Advantage of Your Student Benefits
If you’re in school (or still have your student ID), do not be afraid to take advantage of student discounts! That’s one of the main perks of being a college student. Use it to your advantage.
Carry your student ID with you everywhere and ask if every store or restaurant that you go to has a student discount. They might not, but if they do, then that’s extra money in your pocket that you can put right into your savings account.
It can be hard to save money when you don’t have a lot of it, but it’s not impossible. Use these tips and your savings account will grow. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Saving when you’re on a strict budget requires a bit more intentionality, but we know you can do it.