How To Save Money On A Low Income

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With prices continually rising it can feel hard to get ahead and save money when on a low income. But there are a lot of little things you can do to really make a difference and help you save. As a mother who mostly stays at home with her kids, I had to learn how to budget our money and spend wisely on things. My husband is the main income earner and was the only person bringing in money for years. On that one income we managed to save money to buy our cars up front with no loan and put a good deposit on a house. We have never gone without necessities, and I’d love to share some of the practical things we have done to help save money but still live well.

Tips on saving money on a low income

Start A Budgeting Plan

While this might be the most boring thing to do it it’s probably one of the most essential things you must do! You need know what you are bringing in and what you are taking out. If you don’t, you have no control over your spending. It is super important to sit down and write down how much money is coming in every month. Then from there write a list of all your monthly expenses. Starting with things you have to pay for like rent/Morgage, fuel, food, insurance, phone bills ect.

I have created a Monthly budget plan for you so you can start doing this right away and figure out where your money is going, sign up below to get access to it. After you fill it out it’s important to determine what can you reduce from it or take away completely. For example, are you spending a lot of money on takeaway or entertainment? Can you reduce your grocery bill by cooking more home cooked meals instead of buying takeaway. Or maybe you are spending a lot on entertainment and need to find more free or cheaper options. A budget plan really helps you see clearly on paper where your money is going and helps you make a plan moving forward.

Save Money On Groceries

We spend on average $200 a week to feed our family of 5 and I have written a free eBook with 16 tips on how to reduce your food bill. To gain access to all freebies just sign up below and you’ll get an email with a link and password to a subscriber’s only page.

Food is something we tend to spend the most money on every week other than rent or mortgages. Food is something that we have control over how much we spend. I’m not saying to stop eating and go hungry but really start assessing what you are buying. Package food is more expensive per weight than whole food, it’s also less filling and nourishing for you. While package food might be convenient you are paying the price for it!

Another big spender is drinks. Wether you are buying soda, juice or alcohol these items add up quickly and are not filling. Water is free, we use a filter to filter our water first or you can make your own fizzy drinks at home. You might want to get into making Homemade water kefir. It’s a cheap, delicious, healthy drink that can replace the juice and fizzy drinks you crave!

Free monthly budget planner
Monthly Budget Planner

Decrease Home Expenses

Hand washing dishes to save money on water bill.

While you may not be able to decrease your rent or Mortgage every week you can decrease your water and electricity bill. I’ll list a few practical ways you can do this and soon it will just become 2nd nature!

  1. Turn switches off at the wall! Everything that is plugged in is technically on a standby mode and is drawing a little power. For example your tv, microwave, computer, chargers, lamps and rechargeable vacuums. All these and more draw a little power when not in use. So if you are not using something just turn the switch off at the wall. Also off course turn of light switches, fans and air conditioning if you are not in the room.
  2. Did you know electricity is cheaper to run late at night or very early in the morning? You might want to get things in the dryer at night or your dishwasher going later at night when electricity is cheaper!
  3. Don’t forget instead of using the dryer to dry all your clothes you can hang your clothes on the clothesline and use the suns energy instead!
  4. You can save on water several different ways as well. Getting a water efficient dishwasher and washing machine is one way. Or when washing dishes fill the sink halfway with hot soapy water and wash the dishes by hand is how I use less water when doing a pile of dishes. Don’t leave the faucet running while brushing your teeth or washing individual items.
  5. Taking shorter showers and using the half flush button on the toilets all can help to decrease the amount of water usage!

Pay Off Debt

If you have debt, you will be paying extra for that debt. The best way to save money is to put any extra money you can into paying off debts and loans as fast as you can. The lower the loan is the smaller the interest you have to pay on it. Interest it just wasted money you’re paying extra for because you couldn’t afford it outright. Once you make a budget up and know what extra money you have, decreasing your loans would be one of the first smartest moves. This way you can save more later on things you’d want like a vacation or new car.

Wants V.S Needs

In this current society we tend to get things impulsively. It might have never crossed your mind before and you see something cool and bam it can be yours in seconds! Walk away from the item you want and see if it’s something you really need. If you really need it, can you buy it somewhere cheaper? Can it be op shopped or bought 2nd hand? Make sure you and your family’s needs are all met and really think through those want items. I like to ask myself will it bring me joy, is it useful and do I have a place for that item. If you don’t have a spot for it, you probably don’t need it.

Remember everything you buy is something you will have to take care of. Ask yourself do you want to take care of that item?

Buy 2nd Hand

You can get some amazing 2nd hand items! I have gone into op shops and bought clothes with the original tags still on them! There are many places you can go and buy what you want for a fraction of the price. Op shops, Facebook marketplace, gumtree or (craigslist in America) and garage sales are all awesome places to find a great deal! Utilise these places first. You might be surprised at what you can find for an amazing deal!

It’s not just clothes but you can buy furnisher, kitchen items, baby things just about everything can be found 2nd hand if you take the time to look.

Cars are another big one. A new car is pretty expensive but as soon as it’s driven out it no longer is worth the original price. You can buy a good 2nd hand car for a more reasonable price than the brand new car.

There are also certain stores that sell bigger items like dishwashers, fridges, washing machines, ect cheaper simply because they have some minor cosmetic damage! The product still works completely fine and honestly you normally can’t even tell the item has a little dent somewhere. But these products are not up to standard so they are sold for cheaper. Whitegoods in Australia is a place that sells discounted products like these.

Pay Cash

Having cash makes you really aware of what you’re spending. If you take out a certain amount every week to spend on let’s say groceries, you can visibly see how much you have and are more likely going to try and make that money stretch. You will most likely make better choices when you limit yourself to only a certain amount every week. When you set limits on yourself you will start to notice how easy and much you can actually spend. I mean what’s a $5 coffee here, some chips there, maybe just one more drink, right? All those little spends can add up to quite a bit.

Don’t be discouraged, I actually think it can be a fun challenge to see how much cash can you save this week? How far can you make that money stretch?! If you don’t spend all the cash every week on let’s, say groceries still you can save it towards a treat for yourself or family.

Meal Plan

Traditional wife prepping food for dinner. Shredded cheese, carrot, cucumber and onion on a cutting board on the kitchen bench.

This goes along with saving money on groceries every week but it’s true. If you can take the time to plan some meals or snacks you can really save yourself a bit of money! Having a meal plan really helps with the decision factor of what’s for dinner? If you don’t have anything planned or meat thawed out it’s pretty easy to go for takeaway. Here are a few tips to help you always have a meal close at hand.

  1. Keep your pantry stocked with staples. Make sure you always have spices, pasta, rice, pasta sauce ect.
  2. Make sure you always have meat thawed out or even sausages or mince in the freezer as these don’t take long to thaw. Having eggs or canned tuna or salmon are quick protein options that can help make a meal come together quickly.
  3. When you cook something make double to either freeze for another time or have to eat the next day. It takes almost the same amount of work to double up a meal.

Declutter Your Home

Decluttering your home can save you money because you know what you have and won’t buy duplicates of anything. You can also make some extra cash when decluttering your home by selling the extra stuff you don’t need. Think of the time it takes you to find things, time is money! If you have a more organised home, you will be able to find everything you need easily and won’t be wasting time or money replacing something that is already in your home but hidden from sight. If you want to learn more about decluttering, I have written an article about it here! I made a free room by room guide for subscribers as well so sign up if you would like that!

Free Entertainment

We can spend a bit on entertainment alone, paying for movies, theme park, shows, ect. Driving to all those places can cost quite a lot as well and fuel is not cheap! Simple staying at home can be one option. Here is a list of things you can do at home that can be entertaining. I will have a list of outdoor entertainment options as well.

Indoor activities

  1. Read a book
  2. Do a puzzle
  3. Do a crossword puzzle, sudoku or any of those types of brain puzzles.
  4. Play a game with family, friends or there are single player logic games which are fun.
  5. Watch a documentary, show or movie
  6. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the fresh air outside.
  7. Read a magazine
  8. Learn a new skill whether it’s baking, sewing by hand, embroidery ect.

Outdoor activities

  1. Go for a nice walk
  2. Visit a park, lake or beach
  3. Go to a museum or free zoo.
  4. Play an outdoor game like soccer, tennis, ect.
  5. Go to a free movie screening those are fun!
  6. Visit a farmer’s market! We love going to farmer’s markets!
  7. Find a waterfall or swimming hole somewhere.
  8. Go on a picnic
  9. Go Geocaching. I haven’t done this but seems interesting.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it filled with helpful tips and ideas to help you start saving money! Once you start you will find many creative ways to save money and help you reach your financial goals! Let me know in the comments what you found helpful or if you have more great tips that can help others save more money that I didn’t mention already!

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