There is a reason why most diets don't work. UCLA researchers discovered that, after the initial dip on the scale, the vast majority of dieters will gain all that weight back and more!
Why is this, you might be wondering? The reason is surprisingly similar to the reason so many people have trouble saving money.
Dieting revolves around self-deprivation. Life is hard. Work is hard. Taking care of a family is hard. The last thing most of us want when the day ends is to look out into the future and just see more of the same. We want to treat ourselves! We want to indulge! We want to enjoy life!
So if diets don't work – whether for losing weight or socking away savings – what does? The UCLA researchers hypothesize that portion control combined with healthy activity may be the key to losing the weight and keeping it off.
If we apply this same formula to save money on low income success, what might that look like? These five tips give you a glimpse of ways to start saving money regardless of your current income level.
How to Save Money on a Low Income
1. Cut Down on Expenses
If you don't know where your money is going, you certainly can't redirect its flow out the door! So while “setting a budget” sure doesn't sound like fun, it actually can be once you realize how much this activity will teach you.
Start by simply paying attention to your expenses for the next 30 days. You can do that by tracking your expenses in a spreadsheet or automate it with a budgeting app. Apps like Mint or Personal Capital can automatically keep track of your expenses and much more.
When tracking your expenses, don't forget about your debt (credit cards, student loans, car notes, etc). Be sure to add all your expenses and income so that you can get the full picture. This will allow you to find expenses you can cut or reduce.
2. Prioritize paying off debt to avoid interest penalties.
If there is one thing most people enjoy even less than dieting, it is wasting cash. Trying to save money on a low income gets harder when you are throwing money away on interest payments.
Did you know you can contact creditors to ask for lowered interest rates? Take Charge America offers helpful tips for planning your call to your credit card company to negotiate lower interest rates.
3. Use apps and rewards to earn perks and save money.
The number of money-saving apps available to consumers today is awe-inspiring. You can earn money when you shop, scan your receipts, clip digital coupons, scratch off digital lotto tickets, walk or jog, take an online survey, play games, look at your phone screen and so much more.
With a positive, determined attitude, you could literally be earning a bit here, a bit more there, nearly every waking hour!
4. Reconsider paying for services you use rarely or never.
No one wants to give up the services we love. But then there are all the other services we use rarely or never. From gym memberships to streaming television, the goal is to get great value for what you spend and, even more importantly, build a life you love with the cash you have.
If that means saying no to the gym and yes to taking back those funds and saving up for a mountain bike, it is in your power to make it happen.
Perhaps there is a way to subscribe to a different streaming service where you can watch the five cable television channels you can't live without and not pay for the 200 channels you never visit. Here again, the choice is yours.
5. Pay yourself first. Set up auto bank drafts directly into savings.
One of the easiest, happiest, most self-affirming ways to save money on a low income is to simply set up a regular auto-draft from checking to savings or use an app to do this for you.
Start small and increase gradually. By keeping the cash out of your hands and in your accounts, you will find that you may not even miss the money being saved!
Saving money when you do not make much of it can be a challenge. Still by setting priorities, examining your expenses, and taking advantage of savings where you can, you can avoid the cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck.