Save Money Now Even When You’re Totally Broke
Let’s face it. If you’re like me, you truly make an effort to save money, but often times you feel totally broke and are simply forced to do one of the following:
- 1. We have to pay for utilities.
Everyone has to pay utilities, Many of us have cable, broadband, premium channels like HBO, and whatever subscription services we have added. And the usual is electricity, gas and water.
- 2. We all have to pay for a roof over our heads.
Yes, we either rent or have a mortgage payment, unless your lucky enough to live with parents or someone who’s paying that for you. But this is typically the biggest payment of the month.
- 3. Life Insurance and Healthcare.
If you’re a responsible adult, then you have to pay for some form of life insurance and at least some basic healthcare and dental, and let’s not forget the auto insurance, unless you don’t drive.
- 4. And we all like to go out and have a little fun.
We have to portion out some money for dining out, and just going out and hanging with friends and family. And this expense can add up if you do this a few times a month at the very least. But we need this for our sanity, and to enjoy the good life when we can.
So What’s Left?
So, after these four essentials things have cut into our budget each month, what do we have left?
That’s a good question.
See also: Frugal Living Articles at the Zen Garden
And I realize that I’ve written quite a bit about frugal living over the years. I’m a professional musician and many times I live from paycheck to paycheck, and many times the work is seasonal. There are busy months and there are slow months, but that’s the nature of the business of being a freelance professional musician.
So, frugal living is a way of life for me. I get by with less, and my passion is music anyway, so I love to play my instrument, whether it’s practicing at home or performing on the gig.
And so it boils down to priorities.
What is important in your life, and what can you do for free (or almost free) to enjoy yourself and have a good time while saving your money.
To save money means to not spend it.
Save Money by Getting Started Now
So here are some tips to help you save money when totally broke.
- 1. Seek out multiple income streams.
An income stream is simply a source of income. It can be passive. It can be non-passive, but it’s an income stream, nonetheless.
If you’re really hard up, then collecting cans and bottles and other recyclables is one way to make extra money. You have to spend X amount of time doing it, so this is a non-passive way to make extra income. Save all your cans, bottles and plastic, and take it to the recycle center each month. If you’re flat broke all the time, this is better than nothing, right? And it’s a start. I personally do this myself, and it doesn’t take that much time out of my day.
But you have to come to the realization that if you’re main source of income isn’t just getting you by, then you have to take action and look for additional income streams, either passive or non-passive. Passive income would include investments that earn interest or dividends on a regular basis, but if you’re reading this article, you haven’t reached that point yet.
- 2. Start saving those coins!
For me, one of the most effective ways to save money when I was broke was to simply start saving coins.
I assure you. If you are diligent and consistent, you will succeed in saving some money when you simply believe you can’t because you’re broke.
Everyone gets extra change whenever they go down to the 7/11 or any store for a few small items. SAVE THOSE NICKELS AND DIMES! And especially those pennies!
I have a story to tell. I know that I always had coins lying around the house. I never organized them in one place and they would be lying around all over the place, literally. I would even find coins under the cushions in my couch!
Start by putting extra coins in a big jar. Keep it in a special place but not entirely out-of-site. You’ll need to see it so it’ll remind you that you need to put extra coins in there. And just be consistent and put away those coins into that jar and promise yourself that you’re not going to withdraw from it until it’s full! So, get the biggest jar you can find.
When it’s full, buy some coin wrappers for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. You could probably buy these for cheap from the dollar store. This way, you can go to your bank and not scare the tellers. And it’ll be easy for you and your teller to sort through it all and get a good idea of how much you have.
I did this, and when it was time to go to the bank, I found out that I had made $186 in coins! And the bank is always happy to exchange coins for paper dollars for FREE! Don’t go to those coin changing machines at the supermarket! They will keep a percentage of your coins as a profit. That’s how they make their money, but if you go to the bank, that’s the teller’s job to exchange money for free.
- 3. Cut back on some of those expenses.
This, will take a bit of work. So, you have to do the math in order to succeed at this, and simple arithmetic is what we’re talking about here. Simply adding and subtracting, folks.
Many people these days are cutting the cord, meaning they are getting rid of their cable tv bill and seeking out cheaper alternatives to watch tv.
The first thing I did was to really do some soul searching when it comes to the cable bill. How much TV do I watch, anyway? And do I REALLY need all those cable channels?
I had to make a decision to become frugal and get by with less. Most of the stuff I watch on TV anyway (if I do watch TV) is on the main broadcast channels, namely ABC, CBS and NBC, and sometimes PBS. Well, people don’t realize that you can buy a new digital antenna that will capture these main broadcast channels for FREE. They are available for free through the airwaves, in 100% HD High Definition! Of course, check your coverage in your area. If you live on a farm or somewhere in the backwoods you’ll have a hard time getting reception, but if you’re in the city, chances are you’ll get great, clear 100% HD TV.
Do your research and buy the best digital antenna. Mine cost me about $100, and that’s your initial one-time investment in getting FREE HD TV! There will be other free channels available that might not be HD quality, channels like METV and a whole host of hidden channels that you didn’t think were available through the airwaves, but they are.
But there are many ways to cut corners and save a bit of money if you analyze your monthly budget and try to get by with less.
Do you have a Starbucks habit that’s daily? Sometimes even twice a day when the weather is hot?
You’ll have to bite the bullet and realize that Starbucks is an expensive habit, and cut back on your weekly Starbucks purchases. Try for once or twice a week and get your coffee at 7/11 or learn to make it at home.
Many ways to cut expenses, and these are just a few.
- 4. Have credit cards? Transfer them to a 0% card.
A few large banks are doing this now. If you have credit cards you should cut them up right now! They are pure evil. That monthly finance charge based on whatever interest rate you have (15%, 22%?) is going to break your bank! You’re given a minimum payment and if you are consistent with just meeting that amount each month, you’re going to be paying for that forever! You’ll have to find a way to double that, but you’re broke, right?
So, sign up with one of those special credit cards like Chase Slate, which is 0%, meaning you won’t suffer those monthly interest charges that continue to rack up your balance. The catch is you have something like 15 months to pay that balance off, whatever you have transferred to that 0% card.
I have one of these, and it’s a good way to not get dinged with that high interest rate! People simply don’t realize how wicked credit cards are. Even if you have an interest rate of 15%, think about your savings account. If it’s a regular savings account you earn something like .01% on whatever balance you have in the account. And .01% doesn’t have a chance against something that is 15% or more.
You’re truly better off cutting the cards and trying to go debt-free. And if you do have more than one credit card, that’s probably why you’re broke in the first place.
Cut those credit cards!
I hope these tips help and I hope you save money soon, enough to get a travel fund going or to simply buy a new gadget. These tips have helped me, but I still have to keep myself disciplined and follow through. For instance, it’s time for me to organize all my coins into a big jar again. And I’m always on the lookout for a small additional income streams to get a more positive cash flow going each month.
It’s a constant effort to save money, and you have to be consistent. So save money by getting started today.
I get passive income from dividends earned from my stock portfolio, but passive income is something I’ll cover for another time.