The best provider of

Retail Financial

such as Vehicle Licenses and Check Cashing

Find Location

Find a Location Near You

6 minutes read

How to Save Money When You Are Broke

Published by Scott Hershman

Millions of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, 45% of the country has nothing saved in checking, saving, or investment accounts. So if you’re wondering how to save money when you are broke, you’re not alone. But the good news is that it’s never too late to start saving.

Create a Budget

If you want to save money when you’re broke, start by looking at how you spend money. Create a spreadsheet that includes all of your income and monthly bills like rent, utilities, insurance, and loans. As a good rule of thumb, you should try to limit housing costs to ⅓ of your income. Although that’s often easier said than done.

With your monthly bills accounted for, you can determine how much extra cash you have for other essentials. We all need to eat, so add your average monthly spending at grocery stores to the budget.

Toiletries and cleaning supplies are other essentials you’ll want to include in your budget. You’ll also need new clothes from time to time. So budget a small amount every month to cover those eventual costs.

Lastly, add entertainment expenses to your budget. We all need to spend a little on ourselves from time to time, even when we’re trying to save. You can set aside separate amounts of money for eating out, activities like date nights, and travel. Or pool them all together into a single budget item.

Set aside any money left over to automatically transfer to your savings account. If you’re like millions of other Americans, your expenses probably eat up a big chunk of your paycheck. But budgeting even a few dollars toward saving gets you in the habit. Plus, it will help you stay mindful of your spending.

Use Credit Cards (CAREFULLY)

Credit cards offer a great way to track every dollar you spend and let you earn cash back on your purchases. But you should only use a credit card if you have the funds to pay them off in full every month. Credit card interest rates can be dangerously high. And a single late payment can put you in debt, a whole new level of broke.

If you don’t already have a credit card, look for one with a signing bonus of some kind. You can often earn hundreds of dollars by spending a certain amount within a few months of getting a new card. Make sure that the amount will let you stick to your budget. Otherwise you’ll be eating into potential savings to reach it.

Prepaid credit cards can also be useful for managing your spending if you don’t want to risk interest charges. You won’t be able to take advantage of a rewards system. But most rewards programs top out at a maximum of 5%. Knowing that you’ll never pay interest can be worth a lot more.


Although it might seem like you’re taking a step back in life, downsizing and selling stuff can actually be liberating. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo suggests that every one of our belongings should spark joy. Go through your closets and storage spaces. Pick up each item, one by one, and ask yourself if it sparks joy within you.

Yes, it sounds a little cheesy. But limiting your belongings to items that serve more than a utilitarian purpose can have a dramatic effect. Sell your joyless belongings to a second hand store or have a garage sale. As discussed above, no amount is too small if you’re trying to save money when you’re broke.

Downsizing can also apply to services and memberships. Consider canceling your gym membership to work out at home. Cancel subscriptions to streaming sites and check out movies from your local library. Over time, these little changes can fill your bank account faster than you might think.

Explore New Sources of Income

Picking up a part time job or starting a side hustle seems to be all the rage these days. Both are excellent ways to help save money when you are broke. But no one wants to spend every waking second on the clock. Having no free time is just a different type of broke.

Instead, keep an ear to the ground for new employment opportunities. Even if you love your job, browsing online job boards never hurts. If you hate your job, all the more reason to look for a new one. Reading through listings for your ideal job also gives you an idea of the qualifications you’ll need to land it.

So instead of starting a second job, focus on developing your skills to get a better job. You can learn just about anything on the internet. Figure out what you’ll need to know to land your dream job. Then spend a few minutes or hours every day studying.

You’d be surprised how often employers will overlook requirements like a degree when you can demonstrate expertise. Plus, leaning on your own proves that you can handle complex tasks without someone holding your hand through the process. It might take years to fully develop your skills on your own, but doing so can change your life.

Saving money when you’re broke isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible either.

Start by creating a budget that you can stick to. Use credit cards (carefully!) to track your spending and earn rewards. Downsize by selling things you don’t need and limiting your spending. Lastly, think of ways to advance your career so that you can earn (and save) more.

Back to Blog