4 easy ways to save money when you work a low-paying job
Saving money is definitely harder if you work as a server or a room attendant. At low levels of pay, the standard advice to save 15 to 20 percent of your paycheck is just not realistic because you need that money to cover your living expenses. But even though you won’t be able to save lots of money, it’s still a good idea to save something if you can.
1. Keep your rent low
You may have read financial advice that says, "Stop buying new clothes every month" or, "Don’t buy expensive lattes every day," but when you work at a low-paying job, those tips are less applicable to you. You’re not spending a lot on non-essential items because your pay barely covers your basic expenses. So when you want to cut costs, you’ll need to look at those basic expenses to see if you can lower them. For example, some ways to lower rent are to live with a roommate, to live with family members, or to move to a less expensive part of town. (Of course, if you choose to move, you’ll need to make sure any extra costs of transportation to work don’t outweigh what you’re saving in rent.) You might be able to negotiate lower rent if you offer to help your landlord by doing work around the property. If you’re able to lower your rent, put the difference each month into a savings account.
2. Save small amounts automatically
Although you’ll save the most by cutting large expenses like rent, small savings can add up. To help yourself save little by little, use apps that automate your savings. Digit, Keep the Change, and Acorns are some apps that will move money into a savings or investment account for you. These apps work either by transferring a few cents each time you make a purchase or by monitoring your spending habits and moving money from your checking account to your savings account at times when you’re less likely to miss it.
3. Save instead of making impulse purchases
One tactic to avoid impulse purchases is to shop with cash or a debit card instead of a credit card. Then only withdraw as much cash as you need for items you’ve planned to buy, or keep only as much as you need for expected purchases in your debit account. That way, you can’t slip up and buy something extra because you’re limited to the amount you planned to spend. Another technique is to wait a week before making any unplanned purchase. When you see an item you’d like to buy, put the money it would cost into your savings account instead. Chances are that after a week, the impulse to spend will have passed and you’ll feel motivated to hold on to that money in savings.
4. When you get more money, save it
If you aren’t able to save part of your regular wages, it might be more manageable to commit to saving extra money that you get in the future. When you get gifts, refunds, or any other money that’s in addition to your paycheck, save the extra money. Put tax refunds directly into your savings account so you don’t have a chance to start thinking of ways to spend the additional cash.