21 Money-Saving Strategies for Low-Paying Jobs

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By Jacob Maslow

To help you navigate the financial challenges of a low-paying job, we’ve gathered ten unique money-saving strategies from CEOs and founders. From leveraging online side hustles to saving change and one-dollar bills, these leaders share their best tips for making the most of your income.

  • Leverage Online Side Hustles
  • Adopt the “Reverse Budgeting” Method
  • Set Weekly Frugal Challenges
  • Implement an Envelope Budgeting System
  • Freelance in Your Spare Time
  • Save with Digital Coupons
  • Direct Deposit into an Investment Account
  • Embrace a Minimalist Lifestyle
  • Change Your Savings Mindset
  • Save Change and One-Dollar Bills
  • Set Up a Budget
  • Shop Second-Hand
  • Cook at Home
  • Use Public Transport
  • Automate Savings
  • Use Energy Efficient Appliances
  • Coupons and Discount Codes
  • Use Financial Management Apps
  • Seek Additional Income Streans
  • Practice Preventive Healthcare
  • Plan For Retirement

1. Leverage Online Side Hustles

With the current cost-of-living crisis, saving money is harder than ever. 

Income fluctuates drastically throughout the year, so doing a few online side hustles in your spare time can be beneficial. This income is saved throughout the year and used for Christmas and birthdays. 

This means concentrating on using wages for bills and not worrying about the luxuries and extras that are always needed. 

Some side hustles to participate in are selling old clothes and items on eBay and Facebook Marketplace and selling digital products on Etsy and Fiverr. 

This costs an extra $2500 annually, covering Christmas and five children’s birthdays. 

Only do these side hustles when there is time, as the main job has to come first. But if you get used to not spending the extra cash and putting it away, it becomes a help.

Claire Roach, Founder, Money Saving Central

2. Adopt the “Reverse Budgeting” Method

One unique strategy I have used to save money while working a low-paying job is the “reverse budgeting” method. Instead of following a traditional budget where you allocate fixed amounts to different expense categories, I adopted a more flexible approach.

First, I set a specific savings goal for each month. Then, I focused on prioritizing my savings over other expenses. After covering essential bills and necessities, any remaining money was immediately transferred to a separate savings account or an investment fund dedicated to achieving my savings target.

To make this strategy effective, I practiced conscious spending and looked for creative ways to cut costs without sacrificing my quality of life. I became adept at finding discounts, using coupons, and taking advantage of loyalty programs. I also sought out free or low-cost leisure activities, cooked meals at home instead of dining out, and opted for public transportation or carpooling to save on commuting expenses.

Loretta Kilday, DebtCC Spokesperson, Debt Consolidation Care


3. Set Weekly Frugal Challenges

One unique and practical strategy I have used to save money while working a low-paying job is the “Weekly Frugal Challenge.” Each week, I set a personal challenge to identify one aspect of my daily spending or lifestyle where I can cut costs without sacrificing essential needs. It could be anything from preparing meals at home instead of eating out, finding creative ways to repurpose items, or opting for free or low-cost entertainment options. 

The key is approaching this challenge as a fun and creative game, making it a point to find innovative and unconventional solutions. Not only does this approach make saving money more enjoyable, but it also helps build financial discipline and resourcefulness. Over time, these small frugal habits compound, leading to significant savings and a stronger financial foundation, even on a limited income.

Julia Kelly, Managing Partner, Rigits


4. Implement an Envelope Budgeting System

The Envelope Budgeting System is a practical approach to managing finances, particularly for low-income people. The process starts by listing key expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, and transport. When you receive your paycheck, convert it into cash and distribute it into separate envelopes labeled per expense category.

The rule is simple: only spend the amount in each envelope for that particular category. If the cash depletes, refrain from spending in that category until the next paycheck. Surplus money from any envelope at month-end goes into savings. After practicing for a few months, refine the cash distribution based on actual needs.

This system facilitates visual spending control, prioritizes needs, and offers a tangible interaction with money, fostering better financial management.

June Jia, Investment Banker, Canny Trading


5. Freelance in Your Spare Time

Side hustles can help you save money if you have a low-paying job. In your spare time, you can earn money by leveraging your talents or interests. You can make money doing something you enjoy by freelancing your services. 

This is similar to charging someone to learn how to play an instrument you are proficient in. Especially now that we are in a digital age, you can explore and offer practically any service online through many freelancing platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. You can transcribe, do freelance writing, graphic editing, narrating, provide virtual assistance, and more.

If you’re unsure of how to monetize your abilities, consider providing additional services like dog walking or babysitting. Not to mention, there is frequently accessible part-time work in stores and restaurants.

Samantha Hawrylack, Founder, How To FIRE


6. Save with Digital Coupons

In a world dominated by online shopping, many people forget savings don’t just come from big sales or end-of-season clearances. 

The savings can be significant over time by integrating couponing into your daily online purchases, even for mundane items. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day to check for digital coupons before making any online purchase. Over a month, these tiny discounts can add up, often slashing as much as 20% off your monthly expenses. 

Plus, couponing platforms are streamlining, making it easier to find relevant deals. Even when working a low-paying job, you’d be surprised at how much more financially flexible you can become with consistent, smart digital couponing.

Gary Gray, CFO, CouponChief.com


7. Direct Deposit into an Investment Account

The biggest problem with saving money is having direct access to the discretionary part of your income. Your paycheck hits your account; you pay your bills and then have a few hundred dollars left over. You know you should save it, but instead, you talk yourself into going out with friends or buying something new and shiny. 

That’s because these things provide us instant gratification while saving does not. That’s why you need to remove your discretionary income from the picture. At least, that’s what I did before I started earning more money. I would have my paycheck deposited directly into my Robinhood account and auto-invested, except for the bare minimum essential amount I needed to pay my bills. 

I calculated my monthly bills down to the penny, gave myself a 5% cushion, then had the remainder auto-invested. That way, I could never get my hands on it. It went straight from my employer into my investment account. That’s how you save more when you’re not making much cash.

John Ross, CEO, Test Prep Insight


8. Embrace a Minimalist Lifestyle

The best strategy I’ve used is adopting a minimalist lifestyle. 

I saved significantly by focusing on needs over wants and cutting unnecessary expenses. This also involved decluttering my living space, reducing impulse purchases, and making cautious spending choices, which saved money and brought a sense of contentment and financial stability. 

I recommend others in similar situations to explore minimalism as a practical way to prioritize savings and essential needs.

Ann Young, CEO, Fix The Photo


9. Change Your Savings Mindset

Working a low-paying job doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my savings goal(s). The most effective strategy I have used is not overthinking it. So many times before, I made saving a bigger challenge than it needed to be, which, unfortunately, resulted in me not saving at all. I had to learn to start where I was and not criticize the amount I set to save. 

I changed my mindset around savings, decided on a reasonable and doable amount to save, put that amount aside each pay period, and held myself accountable by being consistent. 

Each time I show up for myself and my future, it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment, and I don’t miss the amount I set aside. I decided to make different choices and repeatedly remind myself WHY I started my savings. Making better choices and executing them has made a difference for my finances, and I celebrate the small wins along the way.

Natasha White, Self Care Wellness Facilitator, New You Wellness


10. Save Change and One-Dollar Bills

One easy way to save money while working at a low-paying job is to save change and dollars regularly. I had a jar (I still do because now it’s a habit), and I would dump my change and one-dollar bills in it every other day. 

This prevents me from spending it on junk items like sodas or chips and adds up quickly. I would save around $100 a month doing this, which I could use for something I wanted or needed.

Tanya Klien, CEO, Anta Plumbing

11. Set Up a Budget

Creating a budget can be one of the most useful tools for managing your finances. By outlining all your monthly expenses, you can see clearly where your money is going, identify areas where you can make cuts, and decide how much you can realistically save each month. It can take a bit of time to set up, but once you have a working budget, it’s easy to update and maintain, and it can make a world of difference to your financial health.

12. Shop Second-Hand

Another strategy is to shop second-hand. Numerous online platforms and local thrift stores offer high-quality used goods at a fraction of the price of new items. This applies to everything from clothing and furniture to electronics and books. By buying second-hand, you can save substantial amounts of money and contribute to reducing waste.

13. Cook at Home

Cooking at home is another effective way to save money. It’s often much cheaper than eating out or ordering takeout and can also be healthier. You can plan your weekly meals, make a shopping list, and stick to it. This will help you avoid impulse purchases and ensure you only buy what you need.

14. Use Public Transport

Wherever possible, use public transport instead of owning a car. It’s often cheaper and you’ll save on not only the cost of the car itself but also maintenance, insurance, and fuel. If public transport isn’t an option, consider carpooling or biking to work.

15. Automate Savings

Finally, automate your savings. Set up your bank account to automatically transfer a certain amount to your savings account every payday. This means you won’t forget to save, and you won’t be tempted to spend the money if you don’t see it in your account in the first place.

Remember, every little bit counts. Even small changes can add up to big savings over time.

16. Use Energy Efficient Appliances

Adopting energy-efficient appliances for your home can significantly lessen your utility bills, thus saving you more money in the long run. These devices might have a higher upfront cost, but their long-term benefits outweigh the initial investment.

17. Coupons and Discount Codes

Utilizing coupons and discount codes for your purchases can lead to significant savings. Many retailers and online platforms offer these incentives to attract customers. You can maximize these benefits and save money by being a savvy shopper.

18. Use Financial Management Apps

Financial management apps can be a great resource for tracking your spending, managing your bills, and monitoring your savings. With visual representation of your spending habits, you can better understand where your money goes and make informed decisions to improve your financial health.

19. Seek Additional Income Streams

Exploring additional income streams can help boost your savings. This could be in the form of freelance work, part-time jobs, or an online business. Not only will this increase your income, it can also diversify your skills and open up new opportunities.

20. Practice Preventive Healthcare

Investing in your health can save you from expensive medical bills in the future. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular check-ups can prevent serious health issues, saving you money in the long run.

21. Plan for Retirement

Planning for retirement is a significant part of financial management. By starting early, you can accumulate more savings and ensure a comfortable life after retirement. It’s never too early to start planning for your future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Savings Mindset?

A savings mindset refers to the attitude and approach one adopts toward saving money. It’s about recognizing the importance of saving, setting realistic goals, and consistently working towards them. It involves making conscious decisions to put away a set amount of money regularly and prioritizing saving as part of your financial strategy.

Why is Budgeting Important?

Budgeting is a tool for understanding and managing your finances. It gives you a clear picture of your income, and expenditure, and helps you to allocate funds appropriately. With a budget, you can identify and cut unnecessary expenses, ensure you’re not overspending, and facilitate saving.

How Can I Save Money by Shopping Second-hand?

Shopping second-hand allows you to buy items cheaper than new ones. This can range from clothing to furniture and electronics. It saves you money, promotes recycling, and reduces environmental waste.

How Does Cooking at Home Save Money?

Cooking at home is usually cheaper than dining out or ordering food. By preparing your meals, you can control the cost of ingredients and avoid paying for service and delivery charges. Meal planning and creating a grocery list also help to minimize wastage and impulse buying.

What are the Benefits of Using Public Transport?

Public transport can be a cost-effective alternative to owning a car. It eliminates expenses associated with vehicle ownership, like maintenance, insurance, and fuel. Additionally, it is an eco-friendly option that reduces traffic and carbon emissions.

How Can Energy-Efficient Appliances Save Money?

Energy-efficient appliances consume less energy, which translates to lower electricity bills. Though their initial cost may be higher, they pay off in the long run due to savings on utility bills. These appliances are also environmentally friendly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How Can Preventive Healthcare Save Money?

Preventive healthcare involves regular check-ups and healthy lifestyle choices to prevent diseases. While there might be some upfront costs, prevention is often cheaper than treatment. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine medical screenings can help detect health issues early or prevent them entirely, saving you from high medical costs in the future.

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