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It may feel like a challenge to save money on a low income, but don’t let that discourage you from your savings goals.
As someone who’s been in your situation before, I can tell you that living on a minimum wage salary can be a blessing in disguise. It opens your eyes to seeing the world in a whole new way, including finding cost saving measures and money making opportunities on nearly every corner you look.
That’s probably what brought you to this blog article today. Well good!
Today, you’ll discover new money saving tips that will get you on the fastrack to saving money!
- How to Save Money Fast on a Low Income
- 1. Negotiate Lower Monthly Bills
- 2. Save Money at the Grocery Store
- 3. Get Free Money with Sign up Offers
- 4. Refinance Your Student Loans
- 5. Increase Your Credit Score
- 6. Earn Free Gift Cards
- 7. Use Rebate Sites to Find the Best Deals
- 8. Save Your Spare Change
- 9. Change Your Gym Membership
- 10. Use Your EBT Card for Discounts and Deals
- 11. Increase Your Income with a Side Hustle
- Final Thoughts to Get You Saving Fast
How to Save Money Fast on a Low Income
Before I became a successful Amazon private label seller, and prior to starting this blog, I worked a low paying salary job as a book sales representative.
I made just enough money to pay my monthly bills, and if I was lucky, then I’d have a few extra dollars left over for a night out with friends.
It wasn’t the way I had envisioned my life going, but I never let that deter me from figuring out how to save money fast on a low income. Thankfully, this determination helped me get out of my rut and get ahead.
The lessons I learned along the way have helped me put this list of cost-saving opportunities together for you. In it, you’ll also learn about the one thing that had the greatest impact on increasing not only my savings, but also my income overall.
1. Negotiate Lower Monthly Bills
When money is tight, one of the first places to look into are your bills. Reducing monthly expenses or eliminating them completely can play a significant role in freeing up excess cash. Things such as recurring subscription plans that you no longer use or bills that you may unknowingly be overpaying on can eat up a big chunk of your paycheck.
But truth be told, it’s not always easy to fit time into your already busy schedule to go through all your bills and negotiate better terms with creditors. Thankfully, there are plenty of money saving apps at your disposal that will help you automate this process.
Trim is one such app that offers bill negotiation features, credit card rate negotiations, and even access to a financial coach to help you with a custom debt payoff plan.
Additionally, when you link your bank and credit cards to Trim, the app will skim through your accounts and remind you of recurring subscription plans as well as set reminders for when your payments are due.
Anyone can get started with Trim for free for most features. Although, the most attractive features mentioned above are offered through their premium service plan. This will cost you 15% of the total amount Trim saves you in the first year.
BillShark is another similar app to Trim.
BillShark charges you on a performance based model where you pay a fee equal to 40% of the savings they’re able to secure for you.
They also charge a $9 flat-rate fee per subscription-based service they cancel on your behalf in addition to other fees.
On the other hand, if BillShark isn’t able to negotiate a lower bill for you, then you pay nothing. That's not a bad deal.
Whichever money savings app you decide to enlist to negotiate your bills, odds are they’ll help you save more money than if you were to do nothing at all.
2. Save Money at the Grocery Store
Groceries have become an increasingly expensive commodity to buy these days. As a matter of fact, prices are soaring to levels unseen in nearly 40 years due to hyperinflation.
This can be seen in a recent report which found that in the 12 months from October 2020 to October 2021, the price of breakfast food staples such as bacon and eggs had increased nearly 28%. Chicken, beef, milk and sugar were also among the foods seeing exorbitant price fluctuations.
It’s putting more and more families in situations where they have to make tough decisions on whether to put food on the table or turn the heat on to stay warm. These next two grocery saving apps will help you curb the cost of increasing food prices.
Ibotta is a couponing app that helps families save money on the most well known grocery brand items. These brands include: Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Kind, Bumble Bee Tuna, Chobani, Gatorade, Snapple and many more.
The cash back savings you earn from using the app can be put right back into your pocket and into an emergency savings fund. These savings can be a pretty significant amount too, especially when you use Ibotta with these three apps. In my case, I’ve earned over $17,636 in cash back grocery savings to date.
Fetch is another grocery savings app that rewards you each time you snap a grocery receipt. The main difference here is that Fetch will reward you on all receipts, no matter whether you take advantage of a coupon or not.
That’s one of the main reasons I enjoy using the app. Though the big caveat is that cash back rewards can be redeemed for free gift cards, not actual cash. I normally redeem my gift cards to Walmart or Whole Foods and use the free money on my next grocery shopping trip. To date, I’ve earned over $2,400 with Fetch Rewards.
Flashfood is an app that doesn’t require you to clip coupons in order to save on groceries. With Flashfood, you shop for food items at your local grocery store that are near their shelf expiry date.
The items generally need to be consumed within the next couple of days. So if you’re looking to cook a meal on the cheap, then this app is a good one to consider.
You get the benefit of buying grocery items at upwards of 50% off, as well as help curb unnecessary food waste. That’s a win-win in my book! Read my full Flashfood app review.
3. Get Free Money with Sign up Offers
There are tons of companies that will offer you free money simply to try out their products and services. It’s just one method that businesses use to attract new potential customers to them. Whether you decide to actually buy something from that company later on is completely up to you.
From personal experience, I’ve found that banking and investment companies have some of the most lucrative sign up bonus offers around. It’s free money and one of the best ways to quickly make money and save it for a rainy day fund.
Sign up to any of the below offers to get instant free money just for joining!
Varo is an online banking app with no monthly maintenance fees on your checking and savings account. Your money is FDIC insured and you’ll earn a $30 sign up bonus when you join with a Varo referral link and spend $20 within 30 days of opening an account.
Sofi bank is another one of the free mobile banking apps vying for your business. Similar to Varo, they offer no monthly maintenance fees as well as a high yield savings account. You’ll earn a $25 sign up bonus when you use a promo link and deposit $10 into your new account within 14 days.
Webull is an investment app with a comprehensive suite of products including stocks, fractional shares, options, ETFs and ADRs. They offer zero commission trading and smart tools for smart investing. You’ll earn 12 free stocks valued up to $3,000 when you open an account and deposit any amount using a Webull promo link.
4. Refinance Your Student Loans
When you decided to attend college and get a degree, you may have not anticipated it taking you years or even decades to pay off your student loan debt. If you’re carrying a high interest rate or making high monthly payments on your loans, yet it’s barely making a dent, then you may want to consider refinancing those student loans.
When you refinance your loan debt, you’re essentially trading in your old loan for a new loan. One that may carry a lower interest rate and where you can pay more money toward the principle, and pay less in interest fees.
You may not realize it now, but it may be costing you thousands of dollars more to stick with your current student loans versus looking into refinancing options.
SoFi is one such company that offers student loan refinancing and they even go as far as guaranteeing the best rate around. If you do find a better rate than SoFi’s, then they will price match it for you and give you $300 on top of that when your loan is funded. The special offer is available when you go through this SoFi promo link.
Earnest offers you an instant interest rate estimate that will not impact your credit score. Though if you decide to follow through and apply after receiving the estimate, then it will be a hard pull on your credit score. Once you are approved, you choose from either monthly or bi-weekly loan payments. Additionally, Earnest will allow you to skip up to one payment per year if needed.
5. Increase Your Credit Score
While we’re on the topic of credit scores, how good is yours? If you answered, “not so great,” then it’s time to start fixing that now. A bad credit score will cost you big time, especially when it comes to getting the best interest loan rates around, including student loan rates.
But not only that, a bad credit score will follow you around for years and it’ll turn its ugly head when you’re ready to buy a new car, or purchase your first home. If you’re fortunate enough to not get denied for these types of loans, then it’ll cost you dearly in high interest rate payments.
If that’s the case, then it will feel nearly impossible to save money when you’re paying so much towards high interest fees. The good news is there’s a safe and effective way to rebuild your credit score fast. Check out these next two options to improve your credit score.
Chime Builder Credit Card
Chime is an online banking app that also offers you a new way to build credit via their Chime credit builder secured Visa® card. Their Visa® credit card comes with no annual fee or interest, no credit check to apply, and no minimum security deposit required.
The way the card works is that you use your own money to fund the card, and you make purchases and payments up to the amount funded. That is essentially the amount of ‘credit’ you have on the card.
Chime uses that money to make on-time payments toward the ‘credit’ that you are using and reports the on-time payments to all three credit bureaus. Members see an increase of 30 points on average to their credit score.
In order to be eligible for the card, you must have a Chime checking account and make an eligible direct deposit to that account. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of moving around your work direct deposit, then here’s the app I used to trigger the Chime direct deposit on my account.
One Finance Credit Builder
As with the Chime Builder card, the One Finance credit builder card doesn’t require a credit check in order to apply, nor do they require a minimum security deposit from you. Outside of that, the One Finance card works in an entirely different way.
One Finance offers you a credit line with a low monthly interest rate of 1% per month (12% APR), a rate considerably lower than the traditional credit card average of 19.49% APR.
Your credit limit is based on the amount of your recurring direct deposits to your One Finance checking account, and can increase to a maximum credit line of $10,000. Your credit line will be automatically paid on-time each month with funds from your One checking account.
The card comes with no late fees, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees and no penalty fees, which are all a huge plus in my book!
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6. Earn Free Gift Cards
Hopefully by now you’re starting to see that there’s truly a viable path for how to save money fast on a low income. Not all methods are going to apply to you, but I think this next one does apply to all of us!
Earning free gift cards that pay for your groceries, gas, clothing, and other essentials can really go a long way in helping you save money. So why not nab some of these free cards for yourself?
Many phone apps today offer you free gift cards in exchange for doing surveys, watching videos online or for simply scanning a few product barcodes at the grocery store. So the next time you’re waiting around in a shopping line or sitting in a doctor’s office, pull out your phone and make some money with these next apps!
SwagBucks is a free mobile app that will earn you free gift cards for doing simple tasks such as: online surveys, playing mobile games, redeeming offers, and watching online videos just to name a few.
The money making app will assign you SwagBuck points for tasks that you complete. Those points can then be redeemed for free gift cards to merchants such as Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, Groupon, Target, Uber, VISA, and more.
On the first day of downloading the app, I was able to earn $120 with a Varo SwagBucks offer, which only took me about 20 minutes to complete. As a new SwagBucks user, you’ll earn a free $10 bonus reward by joining with this link here.
Shopkick is another free app that will reward you for scanning product barcodes at stores, redeeming offers or for walking into a store. Points earned on the app are given to you in Shopkick points. Earn 6,250 points and you can cash out a $25.00 Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or Amazon gift card.
On many occasions, I’ve been able to earn upwards of $0.80 for simply walking into a Marshalls or TJMax store on my way to the gym. And truth be told, most times I’ve only had to drive by the store in order to receive my Shopkick points.
In my Shopkick app review, I share how much money I earned in free gift cards in 60 days of using the app, and whether the app is actually worth your time.
7. Use Rebate Sites to Find the Best Deals
When it comes to buying gifts for loved ones for holidays or special events, one of my favorite money hacks is to use rebates sites to find the best deals. It’s one way I like to pay myself for shopping around and it’s a great way to buy awesome gifts at discounted prices. These rebate websites will offer you cash back deals on popular items and can be a significant savings when compared to paying full price on items.
I should also mention that this is my second favorite way to shop outside of buying from in-store Walmart clearance racks, shopping the Macy’s last act sales and of course taking advantage of the Nordstrom Rack red tag sales!
If you take the time to shop all year round and buy when items go on sale, then you’ll be less prone to spend more money during peak holiday shopping times.
The Rakuten rebate website offers you cash back rewards at some of the most popular stores including: Macy’s, Nike, PetCo, Land’s End, and even on business related websites such as Canva. Deals can save you anywhere from 40% to upwards of 50%+ on popular merchants.
Members of Rakuten download a special Chrome plug-in extension on their computer that alerts them to a better deal. I’ve used this plug-in to save on Christmas presents for my family and even earned a Rakuten cash bonus at sign up.
Mr. Rebates is another long standing rebate website with similar cash back deals at the most popular stores. Their site looks rather dated (think 2002 internet), but nonetheless they are a legit website.
They currently offer deals at over 3,000+ stores and will supply you with a daily dose of online coupons, discounts and cash back rebates to save you money.
As is the case with Rakuten, Mr. Rebates also has a ‘Quick Cash Button’ plug-in that will alert you of better deals on other sites of the product you’re searching for online.
8. Save Your Spare Change
I’m the type of person that doesn’t skip a heartbeat when it comes to picking up loose spare change from the ground. But not everyone is keen on doing this.
Aside from picking up other people’s loose change and saving it for yourself, you can find ways to save and invest your own spare change. Even a penny saved a day can turn into $1 Million dollars when invested wisely. It’s a phenomenon called compounding returns, or compound interest.
The chart below shows an example of what compound interest looks like when you invest a penny that doubles in value every day for 30 days. At first glance it may not seem like a big deal, until you see what happens during the final few days.
On the final day, your penny is worth over $5 million dollars! I bet that will get you looking at your spare change a lot differently!
When you put your money to work in a way that earns compound returns, you can turn your loose change into big gains over time. This phenomenon can be achieved through investing in the stock market. Now don’t expect your money to double overnight as it did in the penny example, but do expect it to double every few years when invested in the S&P 500 index fund.
Below are two smartphone apps that will automatically save your spare change and re-invest it in the stock market for you.
Acorns is an investment app that lets you automatically invest your spare change from debit and credit card purchases when you enable it on your account. You can also decide to invest anytime for as little as $5 into a portfolio of ETFs, or set up recurring investment amounts. Acorns will continuously rebalance your portfolio based on your investment and savings goals.
Currently, they offer three different subscription tiers for an Acorns personal account. You can join Acorns here to start re-investing your spare change.
Robinhood Cash Card
Not long ago, the popular investment app Robinhood, announced the launch of their new Robinhood Cash card. The card offers online debit card banking features that can be used like any other bank card. Other features include:
- Earn Round-up Rewards – Spend, round up, invest your change, and earn a 10–100% bonus each week. Round-ups are capped at $100 per week and bonuses are at capped at $10 per week.
- Invest a part of every paycheck – Automatically invest a percent or dollar amount of every paycheck. Plus, get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
- No hidden fees – No monthly fees, in-network ATM fees, overdraft fees, or account minimums.
- Cash Back Rewards – Save money on your favorite everyday brands by earning cash back rewards on eligible offers. No activation required.
Robinhood is giving away $5 – $200 in free stock rewards to new account holders when you join via a Robinhood referral bonus link.
9. Change Your Gym Membership
Staying healthy is one way to avoid self-induced health issues that will cost you more money in doctor visits and medication. To that extent, starting an exercise regime at your local gym is a great idea, but not if you’re paying a hefty price for a posh gym membership you barely use.
Some gym memberships such as Equinox Fitness can cost you upwards of $245 or more per month in the Boston area where I’m based. While it may have seemed as a cool idea at the time to join a high end gym, it’s really an unnecessary expense when you’re living on a low income.
Try these alternative ways to stay healthy and fit while not breaking the bank.
I’m not much of an at-home workout type of person. But if I were to fall back to being on a tight budget again, then I would not hesitate to do it. It costs nothing to workout in your home or in your apartment, plus there are tons of awesome free workouts on YouTube and Pinterest to watch and follow.
One couple I truly enjoy following on YouTube for free HIIT workouts are Mr. and Mrs. Muscles. They offer free 15 min and 30 min workouts that really pack a punch and get your metabolism running for the day. If these sort of workouts aren’t your cup of tea, then there are plenty of other channels that I’m sure will appeal to your particular workout style.
If you really feel you need the gym to get your workout in, then I hear you. Personally, being at the gym helps me get into a mental state that gets me motivated to exercise. That may also be the case for you.
If so, then looking into less pricey gym memberships will help get your fix in without breaking the bank. I use Planet Fitness and only pay $10 per month for my membership. They offer all the equipment you need to get a great workout in, plus free showers and free filtered water.
It’s a great deal and they even offer you a special promotional price when you join as a new member.
10. Use Your EBT Card for Discounts and Deals
As a child growing up in a low income family, we oftentimes relied on government assistance programs to help us get by.
This meant that there was rarely ever extra money for extracurricular activities. Yet, that never stopped us from finding ways to enjoy many of the same things other families did.
If you’re currently an EBT cardholder, then you have access to a tremendous amount of cost cutting and money savings benefits.
We weren’t always aware of these perks early on.
Though, once we got wind of just how many places offered discounts to EBT cardholders, we made sure to make the most of these benefits!
Free Museum Passes
Many museums offer free or discounted exhibit hall entries to government assistance recipients. The offers and deals vary from state-to-state, so you may want to check these benefits for your specific state.
Here in Massachusetts, EBT and WIC cardholders can get 4 FREE Exhibit Hall passes per day to the Museum of Science all year round.
That’s enough for a family of 2 adults and 2 children to enjoy a full day of fun and activities absolutely free! Without the EBT discount, this would have cost $106!
Now, that’s some worthwhile savings!
50% Off Amazon Prime
The cost of a Prime membership is $14.99 per month or $139 per year if you pay annually. That’s not cheap. Especially for a financially strapped family that’s working their way back to steady ground.
For those that use Prime to get discounts on Subscribe and Save essentials, bulk purchases and more, it may seem incomprehensible to not have Prime.
Even worse, imagine not being able to afford a vehicle and having to do your grocery shopping by bus. I remember many times when my family and I got on a bus to do grocery shopping during the brutal Boston winter months. It’s not fun.
11. Increase Your Income with a Side Hustle
Earlier in this blog post, I mentioned there was one thing that not only helped me increase my savings, but also helped me increase my income overall. That ONE THING was starting a side hustle.
When you have little to no money saved up, it leaves you open to falling into a financial disaster over the smallest unexpected bills. It’s scary, and not something I would wish on anyone. But in order to overcome this seemingly unavoidable pitfall, you have to start earning more money.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go job hunting for a better paying job. Instead, you can start a side hustle that will pay you whenever you decide to work in it. In my case, I looked for ways to make money online, which led me to flipping clearance items on Amazon for a profit.
That ‘small’ side hustle turned into a $1 Million Dollar Amazon private label business that freed me from my 9 – 5pm nearly 11 years ago.
Sell on Amazon
Amazon is arguably one of the most well known websites that you, your neighbor, your ex, and your uncle Charlie shop on. It would be almost impossible to find someone who hasn’t shopped on the site at least once. Well, maybe grandma hasn’t bought from Amazon yet, but you get my point!
For that reason, it’s one of the best places to jumpstart an ecommerce business. After years of trial and error selling on Amazon, I discovered that the most profitable way to make money on the site was by selling private label items.
You can learn all about this lucrative side hustle and how to find your first profitable product for as little as $97 (special 50% off!) by going here.
Not all side hustles will cost you money to start. Affiliate marketing is one such case that won’t cost you anything but your time to get started. With affiliate marketing, you earn a commission for promoting products or services with your unique affiliate link.
Say for example you prefer not to shell out the upfront expense to sell private label products on Amazon as your new side hustle. The next best thing you can do is get paid to review products on Amazon and earn a commission for each sale made through your marketing efforts.
It won’t make you rich overnight, but it will earn you extra cash that you can deposit into your savings account. Read more about why people all over the world are finding affiliate marketing worthwhile to do in 2023.
Final Thoughts to Get You Saving Fast
I’ve been where you’re at now and I know how crappy it feels to not feel like you can save enough money. But with enough discipline and proactively using the tips mentioned here, you can make real progress. Now that you've learned how to save money fast on a low income, take it and run with it. You’ll soon reach your saving goals in no time!
Next, you may be interested in reading how I made $30k fast using only my smartphone and social media!
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