It can be hard to save money at any time, but it is particularly difficult when you feel like you are broke. If you can barely afford your bills and you are living paycheck to paycheck, saving money is probably one of the last things on your mind. However, you can still save money when you’re broke. In fact saving money, even if it is a little, is a key step to stop being broke.
As long as you are making some money, you should be saving some. Especially if you routinely have insufficient funds, it’s important to make a habit of saving money. Despite the fact that you have little extra funds, there are ways to save. Cutting costs, sticking to a budget, and saving a little at a time are all ways that you can save money, but there are other ways as well. Here are five ideas to consider.
1. Cut out the extras
An easy way to save money when you’re broke is to cut costs. You may think there is nothing you can cut out at first, but think a little harder. If you are truly “broke” then you need to let some things go. Do you really need such an expensive cell phone plan? What about cable television? Can you use the internet at the library or use WiFi instead of paying a monthly fee? There are many things that we considered necessities that are really just extras, and cutting some of those will quickly free up more money. Take a look at your monthly bills, and decide what is really necessary. If you want to stop being broke, you may have to cut out some of the extras for a while.
You also might need to evaluate your spending habits. Simply choosing the generic brand of food more often, or shopping deals and using coupons can quickly save you money. You may have to cut out your preference for name brand items in order to save big.
2. Eat at home
Grabbing lunch on the go is so much easier and more convenient than bringing a lunch to work, but doing this regularly will really eat away at your income. According to Living on A Dime, eating out is a common way people get into personal debt. It’s easy to rationalize eating out because you are too busy to cook, or you are a poor cook. However, making food at home will truly save you money, and if you want to save money, you need to make the time and the effort to cook at home.
You can save time by making several meals over the weekend and freezing them to use during the workweek. If you simply don’t know how to cook, buy a cookbook for beginners.
3. Make a budget
If you don’t have a budget, your first step should be to make one. Perhaps you already have a budget, but there are several reasons a budget can fail. If you recently lost your job, or your income somehow changed but you are using the same budget, you will need to make a new one. You also may need to look at your budget and see if it is really reasonable and if you need to adjust anything.
According to Lifehacker, if you are broke and budgeting, there are several steps that can help. Start by assessing your financial situation, cut back on expenses (as mentioned in point one), be frugal. There are other steps you can also take, including paying down your debt.
4. Save a little at a time
If you’re completely broke, the idea of saving anything probably seems unreasonable. However, you have to get into the habit of saving if you are going to save more in the long run. It’s important to think about the future: write down your financial goals, even if they seem completely out of reach. Then, start saving. If you are saving nothing right now, then any savings is an improvement. Once you cut your extras and start following a budget, you can use some of the discretionary money to save for your future.
Another idea is to get a second job. Even if you only work a few extra hours each week, but you put all the money in a savings account, you will quickly see a change in your financial situation.
5. Avoid common mistakes
You can make plenty of good decisions about your finances, but if you make a few poor decisions, you will still have a hard time saving. Some of the worst things to do when you are broke include splurging when you get money, prioritizing convenience, taking on too much debt or making poor decisions about debt, living beyond your means, and having no savings at all.
It’s really easy to live above your means, but this is one of the easiest ways to get into debt. If you have a hard time controlling your spending, try setting a budget and then doing envelope budgeting (you can modernize this practice with a few steps). Also, be careful about the debt that you incur. You need to avoid the worst financial mistakes if you really want to save.
Saving money isn’t easy, but if you take the time to put these five steps into practice, you will be off to a good start.