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    18 Tips For Saving As Much Money As Possible When You Don't Earn A Lot

    "Save your hundreds and live off your twenties."

    Saving money is sometimes easier said than done. The advice we hear often feels like it speaks more to people who already have a high salary, so I recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community how they save money when they don't earn a lot.


    Here are their brilliant pieces of advice:

    And BTW, these tips are great to know regardless of your income! They're just especially helpful if you don't have much cash to begin with.

    1. Track how often you use subscriptions so you aren't paying for something you don't actually need.


    "I record how many hours a month I actually use things like Netflix to see if they're worth spending money on."


    2. Think of contributing to your savings as paying a bill. That way, saving money doesn't become an after thought.

    A person holding a phone and going through a bill statement
    Tero Vesalainen / Getty Images

    "I treat my savings as a 'bill' so I'm forced to put money toward it. I use the Notes app on my phone to budget out all of my bills bi-weekly, and I include my savings as a 'bill'."


    3. Say "no" to things that don't feel financially feasible — like equally splitting a restaurant bill when you ordered the least-expensive meal amongst your friends — and don't feel bad about it!


    "Set those boundaries with friends and family. Don't split the bill equally if you had the cheapest entrée while your friends had a feast."


    4. Save money while shopping online by installing browser extensions to test coupon codes for you.

    Rakuten, Honey

    "I use the Rakuten and Honey browser extensions to apply coupons when I'm shopping online. My quarterly Rakuten checks and the money I save from shopping with coupon codes get deposited into my savings account."


    FYI, Rakuten is a browser extension that helps you browse coupon codes and receive cash-back offers when you buy stuff online. You can test multiple coupon codes in just seconds, which'll save you so much time. Rakuten is free to use, and at the time of this post's publication, it's offering a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up and make a $25 minimum purchase within 90 days.

    Honey is another extension based on a similar idea: It allows you to quickly apply numerous coupon codes so you can pay a lower price for the order you're about to place. It's also ~free~, and as someone who personally uses Honey, almost nothing pleases me more than seeing the icon pop up to alert me that there are coupon codes available!

    5. If you have items you no longer use, try selling them instead of just letting them collect dust in the corner.

    A person taking a photo of a sweater they are selling
    Svetikd / Getty Images

    "Sell your stuff if you no longer need it. And have swap parties with friends if you want new stuff. You can even try asking your friends if they have items you need, before you buy them — I did this and got a couple things from a friend who was about to donate them."


    Two great marketplace platforms you can use are Letgo and Poshmark. Letgo is an app that'll help you easily sell pretty much anything, from game controllers to barely used planters. Poshmark is perfect for selling designer clothing and accessories you no longer want. In other words, you can find a new home for that Calvin Klein dress you bought years ago and only wore once.

    6. Before you load up your cart with discounted products, remember that you only "save money" on sale items if you were going to buy them at full price anyway.

    Apatow Productions

    "Otherwise you’re not saving money; you’re spending it! It sounds simple, but it’s stopped me from spending hundreds on impulse buys during the sales!"


    7. Don't underestimate the value of a simple budget spreadsheet — it'll help you see if you're burning money on unnecessary items.

    A spreadsheet on a laptop
    Andreypopov / Getty Images

    "Budget spreadsheets make it easy to decrease spending on unnecessary items. I keep one for every paycheck so I know how much money I have and where it's going. I also recommend transferring whatever you can afford to into a savings account every payday — even if it's just the minimum. It adds up!"


    "Remember that a budget is not a RECORD of what you spent; it’s a PLAN for what you’re going to spend. Just writing down what you did after you've done it is not that helpful. Instead, make a plan at the beginning of each week for how much you will spend in each category, and stick to it."


    8. And if you're a total budgeting beginner and find it overwhelming, use the 50/30/20 rule as your jumping off point.

    Jars labeled "car," "medical," and "pension" with coins inside
    Serezniy / Getty Images

    "From each paycheck, 50% goes toward your 'needs' (groceries, bills, mortgage, or rent), 30% is spent on 'wants,' and 20% goes toward 'savings.'"


    While the 50/30/20 rule is an effective starting point for planning your savings and expenses, it may not be fully feasible for everyone. It all depends on your personal situation — a budget is not one-size-fits-all! Don't feel like you're doing a bad job if it's currently impossible to only spend 50% on rent, bills, and food. And also don't feel like you should spend more on clothes and social activities if you already spend less than 30% on your wants. Adjust the rule to suit your personal situation.

    9. Don't always snag an item at the first price you see. Visit different stores to see if you can find the same thing at a lower price.

    Paramount Pictures

    "I shop around at different stores for the best price on an item, and I only buy things on sale. This is admittedly a pain in the ass with the amount of time and energy I put into it, but I get good deals this way. Sometimes, I end up paying 50% less for items by going to a different grocery store."


    10. This may seem simple, but: just ask for a lower price.

    Fox Broadcasting Company

    "My husband and I were trying to pay his way through school on my social worker salary, and I was able to get so many expenses down by just asking for a lower price. I got our rent lowered by $150 a month and our internet bill lowered by $20. I also managed to lower a student loan payment. It lowered our bills enough that we went from living paycheck to paycheck to actually being able to put money into our savings!"


    11. Don't spend your tax refund, if you can avoid it.

    Tax papers on a table
    Pra-chid / Getty Images

    "I save the money from my tax refund for any emergencies that may come up during the year."


    Another way to use your tax refund is to put the money toward paying down high-interest debt. This strategy can help you shorten the life of your debt and put you in a better position to save more money in the future.

    12. Cook your meals at home as often as possible — especially if you'll pay significantly more going out for a meal that you could make yourself for way less.


    "If you're too tired to cook, make something simple, like eggs. Or, have some meals ready in advance for those nights when you just don't have the energy."


    "Make dinner and coffee at home. I found that I’ve saved so much money by not being able to go anywhere these past few months."


    For inspiration, check out these cheap and easy meals you can cook yourself. Chicken parmesan casserole and veggie fritters are about to become your new favorites!

    13. If you want to live more frugally, try only spending the small bills you come across and saving the larger bills.


    "Save your hundreds and live off of your twenties."


    14. If you get an annual salary increase, don't treat the extra money as "fun money" — use it as an opportunity to bulk up your retirement fund or savings account.

    A person creating a budget with a calculator and piggy bank
    Andreypopov / Getty Images

    "If you can, don’t spend annual salary raises. Put the extra money toward a 401(k) or a savings account. Doing this helped me the most. It starts small but if you are already living within your means, you don’t need that 2%. It adds up in the long run."


    15. Determine a fixed amount of money to save from every single paycheck (even if it's just a few dollars).

    A person holding money and writing on a pad. A jar with cash inside
    Doug4537 / Getty Images

    "Prior to COVID-19, I used to take $10–$20 out of each paycheck and put it directly into my savings. I know that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it really adds up over time!"


    16. To make sure you reaaally want to purchase an item, give yourself a day or two to sleep on it before hitting "checkout."

    The CW

    "When I add something to my online shopping cart, I wait 48 hours before checking out. About 50% of the time, I realize that I don't actually need or really want that item."


    17. Try the classic envelope strategy to budget your cash. This'll help you stay conscious of how much you're spending on particular expenses and cut back if you see your money dwindling.

    An envelope labeled "groceries" with cash inside
    Ronbailey / Getty Images

    "I use cash envelopes to divide my money among 'save,' 'spend,' and 'give' categories. For every $100 I make, $80 goes in the 'save' envelope, $10–$15 in 'spend,' and $10–$15 in 'give.'"


    18. Lastly, avoid using your debit card. Instead, try using cash so you're more conscious of the money you're spending.

    A person paying for coffee with a card
    Halfpoint / Getty Images

    "I withdraw cash each week and don't use my debit card. If I spend all the money in the first two days, then I don't allow myself to withdraw more except for an emergency."


    Note: Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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