Ah, the frustration of needing to save money when money itself is tight. It can feel impossible to make any progress.
So we’ve put together some useful hacks you can easily implement to make it happen.
And it doesn’t involve paying $100 to some scammer slinging their money making scheme.
What else we’re not gonna do in this post: pretend that you can budget your way out of poverty/ mention anything about bootstraps/ tell you to stop allowing yourself the little treats that make living under late stage capitalism bearable.
BUT, there are things you can do even with a low income to alleviate money stress and make your relationship with money feel less like riding a terrifying water slide in the dark. And more like a lazy river.
1) Set goals
It may sound obvious, but this one is really important. It’s crucial to set a goal for your savings. If you don’t have anything in mind, the first thing you might want to think of is an emergency fund, which should be 3-6 months’ expenses.
Chances are, you probably already have numerous goals in mind right now that you consider more important than an emergency fund. That’s cool: just choose one of them, and focus on that. This is what you’re aiming towards. You got this.
2) Track your spending
When money’s tight, it can be a lot easier to just hit your finances with the old “lalalalala I can’t see you” trick. Sometimes its super energy-consuming to face the reality of your spending, especially if you’re working long hours and don’t have time to spend making spreadsheets.
Luckily, there are robots to do this for you. For free. This is the 21st century, baby.
Apps like, for example, Cleo. She’ll track your biggest outgoings, so you can get a proper picture of where your money is going.
This is especially important if your budget always seems to work out on paper, but you still find yourself struggling to put anything away at the end of the month. With Cleo’s help, you can find out exactly where your money is escaping (or hemorrhaging) out of your bank account.
3) Divide your spending into essential and non-essential
The obvi essentials: rent, gas, health insurance, food.
The non-essentials: your Disney+ subscription, takeout food.
Once Cleo has tracked your spending, you can select which of these are essentials.
She’ll then organize your money into what you absolutely cannot spend, and what you’ve got to work with to put aside for savings. She even gives you cute visuals of what you have left to spend, for our visual learners out there.
This doesn’t mean you have to put it all aside. To avoid sounding like the grim reaper of fun here, you definitely shouldn’t have to live a joyless life because you’re saving.
You’re more likely to break a budget if it makes your life miserable. So. Maybe you consider your $3 coffee each morning as essential.
Keep the coffee, but reduce the costs of everything else. The average household spends about 40% of their food budget on eating out. If this is you, try using apps like Too Good To Go or Olio for something equally as tasty but a lot cheaper. The rest of the time, meal planning can take a huge dent out of your grocery spend.
4) Automate your savings
Sometimes you need someone to take the money off you before you can spend it. With autosave, Cleo will transfer a set amount of money into your savings account each month.
Working from however much you have set aside from your non-essentials a month, put it away as soon as your pay check arrives.
This can also look like splitting your pay check into three accounts. Essentials, savings, and an account for when you want to treat yourself. When you’ve spent the money from that account, it’s gone, and you can’t eat into the money you need to get by day-to-day.
5) Before you save, smash your debt
You’ll be able to save a lot faster if you’ve killed your remaining debt, rather than trying to do both at the same time.
We have a whole article that covers how journalist Mandy Velez smashed their student debt in 6 years (and this was before Uncle Joe canceled a good chunk of it).
It involves “The Snowball Method.”
The snowball method basically requires ordering your debts in order of smallest to largest. Start by paying off the smallest loan first, while paying the minimum on the rest. Once the smallest is paid off, you then work your way up, rolling any freed-up cash into paying off the next in line.
The alternative to the snowball method is the avalanche method. Similarly snow-themed, but different. Instead of ordering debts in terms of smallest to the largest amount, you pay them off in order of highest to the lowest interest rate.
Theoretically, this technique pays off debts fastest, but it may be harder to build momentum compared to the snowball method.
6) Take on a side hustle
Finally, if you have a savings goal that you need to meet by a certain time, and all the above tricks aren’t cutting it, boost your income with a side hustle. Put all of the profit you make from this into your savings account.
We have a whole list of the best side hustles we found in 2022, including online surveys, seasonal work, and pet sitting.
If you haven’t already, download our app for free. Cleo can even spot you $100** if you really need it.
You’ve got this.
Enjoy this post? Def give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. Big love. Cleo 💙
**Eligibility requirements apply.