How to Save Money When You’re Broke
Most of us have felt that feeling at some point in our lives. That nagging worry about what we’ll do if something goes wrong with the car. Or if one of the kids breaks a bone and needs to go to the ER. What if that noise the dryer is making means it’s about to break? What will we do? Let’s break down how to save money when you’re broke.
How to Save Money When You Are Broke
First let me say that I’ve been where you are.
Having even a couple hundred dollars in savings can be the difference between affording an unexpected expense or choosing what bill to let go this month.
Our immediate goal here isn’t to have a few years worth of expenses in savings.
No, our goal is to save every single penny we can with a goal in mind.
Set a number in your head and let absolutely nothing stop you until you get there.
For us, it was $1000.
How to Save Money When Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.
I’m going to assume you’re absolutely strapped for cash, already eating rice and beans, and can’t imagine sparing a single penny more.
From now on, spend cash every chance you get.
Think of your checking account as a pool of money you want to avoid touching at all costs.
Research shows we’re less attached to our money when we’re sliding a card.
Parting with cash is psychologically much harder – painful even.
Only spend your dollars.
Any change you get, goes right into a jar that can be put into the bank later.
How to Cut Your Food Budget
Learning to save money on food is one of the easiest place to cut costs.
It’s almost always the highest cost in a family budget other than mortgage or rent.
Let’s take a look at your food expenses.
If you’re spending anything at all eating out, even at McDonald’s, stop that immediately.
No more convenience store drinks, definitely no Starbucks.
Breaking your addiction to going out to eat is going to get you the biggest bang for your buck.
If you eat meat at home, we’ve found a huge way to pad your savings quickly.
Switch at least one day on your meal plan a week to a meatless meal.
Rice and beans costs just pennies to make.
Lentils are far cheaper per pound than beef and can replace ground beef in most recipes.
Just leaving meat out of your favorite recipe or finding a bean or legume to substitute it will save you tons.
The more meatless days in your week, the bigger your savings.
Automatically Transfer Money to Savings
Each time you get paid, transfer 1% of your pay (or more if you can afford it) directly to savings.
If this isn’t an option your bank gives, make it a habit to transfer a percentage of your money to savings each time you get paid.
I know you think you have nothing extra.
We felt the same way in our house.
The trick to saving money when you’re broke is to live like you’re even poorer than you are.
You have to live like you’re broke.
Live Like You’re Broke
Queue the eye rolls.
“I don’t have to pretend to be broke, you should see my bank account. I already am.”
I get it.
But regardless of how financially insecure we are, every single one of us is still guilty of emotional spending.
Whether it’s a candy bar or a new outfit that we needed a credit card to buy.
The excitement and false security that a new purchase brings work (for a very short time) whether you’re living on a shoestring budget or have plenty of money in the bank.
Figuring out how to live like you’re broke is kind of an art form when you’re already used to going without.
If you start living like you are even poorer than you are now – eating rice and beans instead of a chicken dinner a few nights a week, rationing your shampoo, etc., you’ll notice the pennies saved start to really add up.
Sell Things on Facebook
Have your kids outgrown their favorite toy or any of their clothes?
List them on Facebook Marketplace!
Do a quick search and see what other people are selling similar items for.
Then list yours a dollar or two cheaper.
When someone searches for 2t kids clothes, we want them to buy yours!
If you’re as crazy as me, you’ll think big.
Do you have a dresser you can live without?
If you’re really stressed about money, I would suggest selling things you know people will buy, even if you still use them, to build your savings faster.
We can have things later.
By selling extra things, you’re actually buying yourself peace of mind.
Cut Costs Everywhere You Can
Spending is emotional.
Once you understand that, you can start to reign in your spending.
It’s why you find yourself wondering why you are spending money when you already stress about having no money.
How many times have you thought “I’ve had such a hard week, I deserve this.” ?
What happens when things do go your way?
Then it’s time to spend money to celebrate, yet another excuse to spend money.
Try to take your emotions out of your budget as much as possible and develop a forward-thinking mentality.
Instead of thinking that you or your kids, spouse, etc. deserve whatever it is that you’re spending money on, think about how much they deserve financial stability.
From now on, every time you think of buying something, really consider if you can live without it.
Living without for just a little while can afford you a savings cushion that makes life more fun.
Things We Gave Up to Save Money
We finally broke our addiction to going out to eat.
Only eating at home saved the most money of everything we tried.
We cut cable.
Now we have Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, but for years we only had Netflix.
I stopped getting my hair done.
Now my husband does my highlights.
If my tattooed, burly, outdoorsy husband can do my hair, yours can too.
I stopped buying makeup.
Now, I get $5 maybelline foundation on Amazon once a month or so.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I bought anything else.
Check out this list of sacrifices I made to afford to be a stay at home mom.
Save Every Extra Bit of Money
Every single bit of money that comes your way, save it.
If you get an unexpected refund of some kind – when we moved, we got a refund from almost every utility company.
This isn’t extra money to be spent – this is a gift toward your savings goals.
Don’t let it touch your checking account.
Put it right into savings.
Bonus points if your savings account is NOT linked to your checking.
That just makes transfers much easier for emotional purchases.
If you do all of these things, you can get to a reasonable savings account in a short amount of time.
Remember that the secret to creating a savings involves cutting costs and bringing in as much extra money as possible.
If you change your mindset from a consumer, spending mindset to a frugal, saving one, you’ll get there.
Be patient but don’t give up.
If we can do it, believe me, anyone can!