If you do a Google search for how to save money with a low income, you’ll find lots of advice. Some people will tell you to start a side hustle. Others will say you need to pay down debt.
But you’re not stupid. What if you just can’t?
It’s not always an option to move in with your parents. You can’t pay down debts with money you don’t have. And what if you’re already working two jobs? I doubt you have time to start a side hustle.
Sometimes the answer is simply, you just can’t save money with a low income. You just have to find a way to get by. And sometimes that’s ok.
If we change the question, maybe we can find some better solutions. Instead of asking how to save money with a low income, ask this: How do I change my current situation so I can start saving money?
In your current situation, it may simply be impossible to save money. Math is math. You can fudge it. If you don’t make enough money to save money, then you just can’t. But if the question changes, we can start to find answers which may help us move to a better place.
There’s no magical answer, but here are a few simple things to start with.
Start a budget
Trust your gut. You’re a smart person. A budget isn’t some magic bullet. If you’re barely surviving paycheck to paycheck, you won’t suddenly find a whole bunch of money to save.
Instead, think of a budget as a skill you should have. It’s a tool in your toolbox. Many self-made millionaires kept a budget for most of their lives. It’s something they swear by.
Down the road, if you do some things to increase your income, you’ll start seeing the results in your budget. Better yet, if you did miss something, you may find a few dollars here and there you could start saving.
Bottom line, don’t believe the hype. Budgeting is a great tool you should know how to use, but it’s not going to turn your life around. If you’re struggling, you’re struggling.
But here’s one thing a budget will help you with. It will make you face your fears. If you’re afraid of money and bills, you may have trained yourself to ignore them. A budget shoves everything in your face.
Work on yourself
I know it can be tough to find time to do new things, but give it a shot. Try to improve at work or ask for more responsibility. Put yourself out there and take up any opportunities that come your way.
The goal being to increase your income over time. That’s what you’d be working toward. If you can’t find money to save, the only answer is to increase the amount of money you make. Sometimes we just can’t save in our current situation. The best way to make more is to ask for more at work or work hard to find a better job.
Your job is where you spend the majority of your time. If you can find ways to squeeze out more money per hour at your job, this will have the most impact. Successful people know this. If you try to do too many things, you end up with a bunch of mediocre things.
Side hustles really aren’t going to make you much
If you only have a few extra hours per week, don’t expect to make a bunch of money from them. In that small amount of time, it’s hard to find something which is worth your time. I feel you’re better off trying to make yourself a better employee.
Depending on where you live, a side hustle might be limited anyway. You can’t drive for Uber in a rural area. It’s super super hard to build a drop shipping or e-commerce business. And you aren’t going to make much money blogging.
Even worse, a side hustle might hurt your job performance and distract you at work. This gets in the way of increasing your income at work.
I know, I know. People write all the time about how they make so much with Uber or sell widgets for thousands of dollars per month or just started blog and made so much money to quit their job.
I just think you’re way better off sticking to what you know. There may be opportunities around you at work you haven’t even considered. Try those avenues first.
Don’t give up
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Make some small changes over time and you might dig yourself out of a hole. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
You’re not stupid. You know your situation. You don’t need someone to tell you to stop buying stupid shit because you already know you shouldn’t do that. It’s no secret.
Be optimistic. Slowly change the way you think about life. Work on increasing your income and improving yourself. Don’t get distracted by side hustle this and side hustle that. Don’t get sucked into a pyramid scheme.
Most importantly, stay the course. You’ll get there.