How To Save Money When You’re Broke? [5 Ways]

Saving money and living within our means is on the top of our minds. Like many of you, working toward financial security is one way that we can be both smarter and happier homemakers.

When your bills pile up faster than your income, it can be difficult to save money. But don’t worry! You can still save money when you are broke with a few helpful strategies.

The best ways to save money when you are broke are by making a budget, prioritizing your spending, and looking for cheaper alternatives to some high-cost items. Small spending tweaks, like implementing Meatless Monday or looking for discount programs, can have big impacts on your budget.

Larger changes, like finding more affordable housing, can also build up your savings in record time.

How To Save Money When You’re Broke?

One of the first steps to saving money whether you are broke or not is to make a budget. Start by writing down all of your fixed expenses. Not everyone will have every single one of these items, but here are some common fixed expenses that many households have.

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Loan payments (car, student loans, personal loans)
  • Insurance premium
  • Cell phone plan
  • TV/Internet/Streaming services
  • Utilities
  • Memberships (gym, clubs)
  • Childcare
  • School costs

Next, write down your variable expenses. These can change from month to month but are always included in some form. It can be helpful to track how much you spend on these items for a few months to get an accurate idea of the amount. It can be very surprising!

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Entertainment
  • House upkeep
  • Miscellaneous

Finally, write down the financial-related spending. Some of these might be made automatically before you see your paycheck, while others may not even go with a particular purchase or service.

  • Retirement contributions
  • Investments
  • Credit card interest
  • Savings

Once you have a list of the categories in your budget, pay close attention to your spending for at least one month. This will show you where you are starting. If you find that you spend too much money on a particular item, adjust it next month.

Tracking your spending is critical to saving money. Your budgeted amounts should not exceed your income. When you spend more than you make, it is easy to go into debt. That also makes it impossible to save money.

Allocate a certain amount of your income to each category. As you spend money each month, track how much is “left” in that particular category. For example, if your grocery budget is $500 and you spend $120 at the store, you will have $380 left for future trips.

Once you hit that amount, you shouldn’t spend any more money that month in that category.

Some items are essentials, such as housing and food. No matter how much or how little money you have available, you still need to eat and have a place to live. Assistance programs are designed to help individuals and families in these situations.

Ways To Save Money

There are a lot of small and large changes that you can make to help save money. Try implementing one or more of these strategies to boost your bottom line.

Pay Yourself First

Once you have a good idea of where and how you spend money, it’s time to boost your savings up. Each time you get paid, set some money aside into a savings account. By putting your savings in a separate account, you will be less tempted to use it.

This also makes sure that savings remain a priority in your life. Saving money before spending money is a great way to make this a lifelong habit.

If you find it hard to stay motivated to put savings aside, set a goal. This helps many people enjoy a sense of achievement each time they see their savings increase.

Start by saving just a few dollars if you need to. Take one item from your budget each week or month, such as a $5 coffee, and put that money into savings instead. As you see your savings account grow, you will get more motivated to stay on the right financial track.

Use Budgeting Tools and Resources

You don’t need to learn how to save money and budget alone. There are a lot of tools available, sometimes for free, that can help you. Look into one of these resources to see if they can help get your spending on track.

  • Online spending trackers
  • Your local library
  • Community center classes
  • Your bank

You might also consider joining a financial wellness group on social media to help motivate you to keep saving. You can post questions, share successes (and failures), and connect with others on the same journey.

Look For Discounts

Many stores, like offer discounts and loyalty programs. These are usually free for customers as an incentive to shop there. Grocery store loyalty programs are particularly great.

If you buy store-brand foods, the savings can be even greater.

Some stores have discounts on particular days of the week for groups like the military, first responders, educators, or senior citizens. If you are in one of these groups, shopping on your discount day may save you 10-15% on your purchase.

If you are an avid online shopper, search for coupon codes before making a purchase. Many retailers offer discounts if you sign up for their email newsletter or updates. They might also have seasonal discount codes that you can apply.

You can also get discounts on purchases and services you have already made. Talk to your service providers (insurance, cell phone, TV/internet) to see if they can reduce your rates or plan without sacrificing your coverage.

Some stores also honor coupons or promotions on products from their competitors by price-matching, even after you have made your purchase.

Cancel subscriptions

Most of us have subscriptions that we don’t even use anymore. Canceling subscriptions is a great way to immediately reduce expenses. Just make sure to put that extra money toward your savings. If you still love your Netflix, splitting the cost with a roommate or family member can be a great way to still enjoy the service while sharing the costs.

Meatless Monday

Meat is one of the pricier items in a grocery budget. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to look for more economical alternatives every once in a while. Designate one day each week, such as Meatless Monday, to make and serve a budget-friendly meal that does not rely on meat as its protein.

Meal planning in general can be a great way to save money and be more intentional with your grocery spending. Look for sales and discounts in your grocery store’s weekly flyer, then stock up on items that you will eat and enjoy.

The 30 Day Rule

For larger purchases, it can be helpful to take extra time to think about that spending before you go ahead and do it. The 30 Day Rule states that you should put the money into a separate place or account for 30 days to give yourself time to really decide. If you still want to make the purchase in 30 days, the money is ready and waiting for you.

Those 30 days can also give you the chance to look for coupon codes or discounts. You might even find a cheaper alternative that you didn’t know was available.

Adjust Your Budget

If you really want to accelerate your savings, look for cheaper options for some of your big-ticket budget items. These are usually housing, car, and childcare expenses. Moving can be expensive but you might find that downsizing to a smaller home will save you money in the long run.

If you don’t drive your car very much, maybe you can trade it in for something more affordable. Look into sharing childcare expenses or trading babysitting time with another family, if your work situation would allow for that change.

Before you make any major changes to these items, make sure to talk about all of the options with other members of your family. It can help make saving money more fun to get everyone involved.

Make More Money

If you have the opportunity to take a promotion at work, this may be the push that you need to go for it. Put your increased paycheck into your savings account before you get used to spending it.

You might also look for ways to increase your earnings through a side hustle. This could be taking on additional work in your industry or starting something entirely new in your free time.

Look around your home for even more ways to make and save money. Selling your unused clothes or household goods can clear up clutter and bring in extra money. Put that money directly into your savings account when it comes in.

Get a second job

Depending on your schedule, you might be able to take on additional work to make more money. Some industries offer consulting positions where you can use the skills you already have to make money during your off time.

You can also drive for a ride-sharing service, pick up groceries for other people, or even deliver pizzas as a second job. The great thing about these jobs is that you can often do them when you have free time and adjust your availability as needed.

If you have a hobby that you can use to make more money, consider getting a second job doing what you love and earning income at the same time. This is a great way to boost your earnings without getting burned out.

Renting a room in your house

For those with extra space at home, you may as well put it to use earning more income that you can apply to your savings. Renting out a room in your house is easier than ever with so many people moving and looking for affordable housing. Just make sure that you do a thorough background check and have a clear contract with your tenant.

There are plenty of online resources to make becoming a landlord easy and great for your savings goals.

Online programs

Volunteer for online reviews, secret shopper programs, and other ways to earn money by giving feedback on everything from videos to products and services. Some companies will pay weekly or monthly, while others compensate reviewers with free goods or services in exchange for honest and detailed feedback.

Final Thoughts

Saving money when you are broke can be difficult but even small steps make a big difference. Start by making and sticking to a budget, then look for ways to save on the purchases you make or reduce larger expenses in your budget. Pretty soon, you won’t be broke anymore!