How to Save Money When You Feel Broke
According to a study, 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
Based on this statistic, it’s safe to say that most of us are teetering on the brink of “broke.”
So, if you’ve found this post because you’re feeling broke as hell, there’s good news:
You’re not alone!
But, there’s also bad news. Feeling broke can put a huge damper on your ability to save money.
Here are a few things you can do to change your mindset and ways to locate more money to stash in your piggy bank.
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1. Divide Up Your Cash
If you currently hold all of your money in one checking account, consider dividing up your cash.
A checking account is for basic transactions and bills. You should open a separate savings account for various things like fun money, travel money, and emergency savings.
At this very second, you may have $0.00 to put into a savings account. That doesn’t matter.
The fact is, if you ever want to have money in a savings account, you need to start somewhere.
What type of account should you open to store your savings?
You’ll probably have the most success if your savings is untouchable.
That’s what works for me.
Before quitting my job to freelance full-time, I saved up $5,000 while living by myself on a moderate salary in D.C, a super expensive city.
I put an initial deposit into an account that I had absolutely no access to. Then, I set up an auto-deposit of $100 per month into that account. Time flew and before I knew it I had a nice chunk of change in there. All of this happened because it was virtually impossible for me to spend that money.
You can do this same thing with an online savings account.
Online savings accounts are great because they usually have very limited administrative fees and require no minimum balance. This is perfect if you have very little money to deposit at first.
My husband and I have a GS Capital account together. It’s awesome because it’s not connected to our regular money. It has no fees, doesn’t require a minimum deposit, and is FDIC insured. (This means that your money is insured up to $250,000 if the bank folds.)
I also have a Digit account for my travel savings and a regular Wells Fargo personal checking account.
The bottom line here is even if you feel broke as hell, go ahead and open up a savings account to get into the mindset of being a saver.
Envision yourself saving money like a boss.
What if you already have a savings account, but it’s not gettin’ any love?
Good question. Think about why you’ve been having a hard time saving up to this point.
Is it because you keep transferring money from your savings account back to your checking account and then spending it?
If yes, open up a new account that is not connected to your checking account.
If your savings account is getting no love because you have no money to spare, we’ll talk about how to fix that next.
2. Cancel Ish
It’s way, way, way too easy to sign up for memberships and subscriptions these days.
No paper money actually passes through our hands. Digital and plastic payments can cause us to forget how much we’re really spending on little stuff here and there.
For subscriptions, there’s Apple Music, Tidal, Hulu, Netflix… and more. (Not going to lie, Apple Music got some of my money. Damn you Drake!)
For memberships, there are gym memberships, wholesale club memberships, and more.
It’s a bunch of miscellaneous stuff.
Take out your bank or credit card statement. Scan through every expense. Research any reoccurring transaction that you see from iTunes, Google Play, or any other service and figure out what is.
If it’s not something you need, “you need to cut it.”
If you pay for stuff with PayPal or another type of virtual wallet, go through those transactions, too.
The reoccurring savings you find from canceling ish can go into your new savings account. 😉
As for your monthly reoccurring bills, you should negotiate them to see if you can get a lower rate for savings. If you have trouble negotiating, check out my review on BillFixers. It’s a company that will call up companies on your behalf to get the best rates.
3. Re-evaluate Your “Means”
There are levels to broke.
There’s the type of broke where you can still find $10 to spare for an eyebrow waxing and $15 for a mani. This type of broke means you really do have some flexibility to save more cash.
Then, there’s the type of broke where you literally have no pennies to rub together and cobwebs in your bank account. This type of broke can happen if you experience a financial emergency, lose a job, etc.
Which level of broke are you?
If it’s the first type of broke, you’re probably not “technically” broke. You’ve just been temporarily living beyond your means.
This is a good thing. You have the power to make a conscious effort to cut back on your excess spending to beat broke and save money.
Take these baby steps:
- Try no spend days. Don’t spend money at all on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays or any variation of days that you want. That means no coffee and packing your own lunch each day. Put the money you save in the savings account we talked about above.
- Add up all the money that you usually spend in problem areas. Where do you have a spending weakness. If it’s happy hour, add up all the cash you usually spend on beer and wings weekly. If it’s Starbucks do the same. Then, put the savings into the account we talked about above.
- Create a zero-sum budget. I tell you how to create a zero-sum budget in detail here. I also created a printable workbook you can grab here on sale for a short time. It’s a budget where your income – expenses = zero. You give every one of your dollars a job including your fun money and money that is for saving. Tip: If you want to be really aggressive with saving, set a savings goal first and then create your budget around that goal. For instance, to accommodate a large goal you may have to carpool, take the bus to work, or keep your grocery bill super low. You make big sacrifices in other areas to make the goal work.
4. Downsize, Sell Stuff, Part-Time Hustle
Ok, so let’s talk about the second level of broke.
This level of broke is when you for real, for real have no money. There is simply not enough money to save after keeping a roof over your head and food on the table.
First, there’s no shame in doing what you have to do to bring in more cash.
During slow periods in my freelance business, I’ve taken part-time work as a dog walker, in retail, and as an apartment building concierge.
As you can see, there’s literally no shame in my game. I get it how I live.
Getting it how you live could mean:
- Renting out a spare room in your house
- Renting a smaller apartment or getting a roommate
- Selling clothes, furniture, electronics, or toys that you don’t need
- Applying for a part-time job
- Side hustling (check out this post on 20 ways to make extra money.)
Do what you can to bring in more income. I picked up dog poop. It’s all good.
Then, when you get back on your feet, head back up to the to-do’s in step three, be mindful of your excess spending and create a budget with savings as the main focus.
The Key to Saving (Even When You Don’t Think You Can)
Half of saving is about the money. The other half is mindset.
There’s no way around it, our culture is big on spending. It’s tough to save cash when we’re constantly digesting ads and information that tells us to spend.
But, once you get determined and realize being frugal or being on a budget isn’t a sign of desperation, saving becomes much easier.
If you like this post, check out these:
- 10 Websites That Will Save You Big Bucks This Holiday
- How to Pay Massive Amounts of Debt With a Zero-Sum Budget
- How to Cut the Crap and Start Saving Now
- 107 Productive Things to Do Instead of Spending Money
Do you have anything to add to this list of ways to save when broke? Share with me!
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