How to Save Money When You’re Broke – A Complete Guide

Image: Chainarong Prasertthai / iStock


When it comes to saving money, being broke means that you need to be on a budget. Unless you are born into a family where money isn’t a problem, you need to learn how to manage your finances and make the dollar stretch. In this article, we will answer the all-important question of how to save money when you’re broke.

Money can be difficult to save, and especially so when you’re broke, with all the living expenses, bills, and many other things to pay for.

While there may be times when money is tight, there are things you can do to save money regardless of your income.

Here’s a List of 29 Ways to Save Money When You’re Broke

1. Set up a budget

When you are going to save money, it is important to have control over your fixed income and expenses. A budget allows you to plan how to spend and save your money each month.

Also, a budget gives you a good overview of how you spend your money – so you can easily see what you can cut out to save more money.

Make an overview of fixed income and expenses. When expenses are deducted from fixed income, you are left with the amount that will cover living costs and savings.

Creating a budget without following it is of little use – so here it is important to follow the budget carefully.

2. Get rid of expensive debt like credit cards and consumer loans

Do you have a credit card or consumer loan that you have not repaid?

These loans have very high interest rates and cost you a lot of money not to pay down. Often, loans like this can ruin your entire savings.

Prioritize getting expensive loans like this repaid as soon as possible.

If you have several expensive small loans with different banks, it can be smart to refinance loans and collect them from a bank with good loan terms.

3. Cut unnecessary costs

One of the most important things to do if you want to save money is to cut down on unnecessary costs.

Most of us spend more money than necessary in our daily lives – whether it be on food, clothing, electronics, power services or other living expenses.

We go into more practical ways to cut costs further down the list.

4. Increase revenue 

Of course, one of the best ways to save more money is to increase your income.

If your finances are so tight that you have saved on everything you can save on, the next step is to earn more income.

This can be done by getting a better-paid job or working on a side income.

There are many ways to get a side income, whether it is by getting an extra job or trying to make money online.

For example, many students choose to make extra money by answering paid surveys.

The best thing for many is to get a passive income alongside the main income.

5. Pay bills on time

pay your bills on time
skynesher / iStock

When it comes to saving money, it is important to pay your bills as soon as you can.

Bills quickly become much more expensive as soon as late fees and interest begin to arrive. These extra costs can add up and quickly ruin a lot of your savings.

Try to keep up to date with bills as soon as you have the opportunity if you are behind.

6. Set money aside as soon as you receive it

When you are broke and trying to save money, it is a good idea to set the amount you want to save aside as soon as you receive money in your account – whether it is a salary, scholarship, gifts from a birthday or the likes.

You should always pay yourself before you pay others.

Here, it is wise to set aside a certain amount of your income each month, such as 10 or 20% of your income.

If you struggle to always end up touching your savings amount, you can try to move the money to an account that is hidden in an online bank – or to a completely different bank to get the money out of sight from everyday life.

This makes it easier not to touch it or think about it.

If you have money left over each month, you may want to invest it in stocks or mutual funds to make the amount grow.

7. Cut out entertainment services and subscriptions

It’s important to have some entertainment in everyday life, but do you really need Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Spotify and Xbox Game Pass?

Remember that a subscription that costs $10 a month is equivalent to $120 a year.

Therefore, it quickly becomes a few hundred bucks a year of savings by cutting out an entertainment service or two and a subscription that you probably do not need.

8. Limit shopping

Many of us love shopping and shopping online. However, shopping quickly becomes expensive, and if you want to save money, this is something that must be cut down hard on.

When we humans shop, we experience a kind of intoxication of happiness.

The reason is that when we see nice things we want in the store, it releases dopamine in our brain that motivates us to complete the process and buy those things.

This makes us make bad decisions and buy things we do not really need – be it new clothes, shoes, makeup, a cell phone or a new car.

However, research has shown that it is the anticipation of shopping that causes the dopamine intoxication – not to actually buy those items.

If you are aware of this when you are about to shop for something, it is easier not to buy – and you save your money.

A good tip is not to buy the thing the first time you see it.

Rather come back the next day and consider whether you actually need it – or whether it was not as necessary as you first thought anyway.

9. Save money on clothes

save money on clothes
urfinguss / iStock

We have already talked about how you can save money on shopping, but everyone needs new clothes once in a while.

If you first need new clothes, you can save a lot by not buying branded clothes and instead shopping in cheaper clothing stores.

You may also want to buy clothes on offer – but be careful not to buy unnecessary things just because they are on offer.

10. Do not buy unnecessary electronics

Do you like shopping for new electronics and gadgets? Then you are not alone.

But you do not really need that latest phone, headset, PC monitor or TV at all times.

Remember that all home electronics fall in price the moment you buy them.

If there is something you really need, then you can just buy last year’s used model on eBay or other similar sites!

Also Read: 8 Reasons Why You Should Start Saving Money Today

11. Shop used when you can 

Even if you want to save money, you can’t always completely avoid buying things.

Whether you need a new phone, a new piece of furniture or if the stove has broken down – there is a lot of money to be saved on buying a used one instead of buying a new one.

Also, it is much more environmentally friendly to buy used!

12. Take good care of your things

Whether it is your mobile phone, apartment, car, washing machine or house – take good care of your things!

Then you do not have to buy new ones too often, and you get more in return for your things the day you want to sell them.

13. Plan your meals and shop once a week

shop once a week
SDI Productions / iStock

By planning all the meals you will have during the week, it will be easier to follow your budget.

Also, if you only shop once a week, you avoid making stupid impulse purchases that cost you extra money.

And remember: Do not go to the store when you are hungry! The danger of you buying unnecessary food items is too high in that situation.

14. Buy cheaper food and food on offer

You can save a lot of money by choosing the stores’ own brands and low-priced products.

Most of what you put in the shopping cart out of old habits is the result of years of effort from the manufacturers to market their products so that you choose them over others.

By choosing the stores’ own brands and products, you can save a lot of money on food during the week, month and year.

It is also a good idea to keep track of which stores have offers for the groceries you need at all times.

15. Freeze your foods

If there is one thing we humans are good at, it is throwing away food – which of course is completely unnecessary.

In addition to planning meals and shopping for groceries once a week, you can save a lot of money by freezing food.

Everything from bread and baked goods to cheese, milk, pasta and berries can be frozen and used later.

Our tips are to:

  • Cut up bread in the grocery store and freeze the slices of bread you do not use
  • Buy cheese on offer and freeze until you need it
  • Freeze pasta leftovers and lasagna so you have dinner for a later occasion

16. Do not buy expensive lunch outside

It’s easy to be tempted to buy hot food, baguettes or salad from the salad bar when you’re having lunch at school or work. 

If you first stop by a store or kiosk to buy lunch, it’s easy to get carried away and buy other unnecessary things such as baked goods and coffee. 

When you’re broke want to save money, it is important to have a packed lunch at school or work. 

If you have a refrigerator in the workplace, you can store cold cuts at work – and if there is a microwave, you can bring dinner leftovers. 

This way you can avoid the expensive shopping trip and save a lot of money during the week!

17. Make food at home

Eating out is one of the most expensive things you can do. By buying all the ingredients and making your food at home, you save a lot of money!

A really good dinner does not have to cost more than 2 to 5 dollars per person if you really want to save money.

18. Stop shopping at the kiosk and gas station 

Do you find yourself stopping by a kiosk or gas station once in a while to buy food and drinks?

You need to stop doing that immediately if you want to save money. Items you buy in kiosks and gas stations are often between 25 to 75% more expensive than in a regular grocery store.

19. Introduce free (no shopping) days 

Do you usually buy something every single day? Many people have a habit of buying something new daily. Often it’s just little things like small shopping trips to the store – other times its online shopping.

If you introduce the idea to shop only once or twice a week and stop buying lunch from outside, then it is possible to have completely free days. 

By introducing free days, where you do not spend a single penny, you rearrange your brain to think that it is not necessary to buy something every day.

20. Sell things you do not need

If you’re broke and really need money, there is little that is as effective as selling things you do not use or no longer need.

Sell ​​everything that does not make you happy or don’t absolutely need!

Furniture, mobile phones, electronics, watches, bicycles or clothes – most of your belongings can be sold.

It is completely free to post things on classified ad sites, so here you have nothing to lose by trying to sell away.

Maybe there is something valuable that you don’t need in a basement, storage room, garage or attic?

21. Out and about? Check flight prices several times!

check flight prices
Ronald Paras (Picxel8 Studios) / iStock

If you are going to fly, you can end up saving a lot by checking flight prices several times and on various websites. 

Airfares have dynamic prices, which means that they go up and down a lot. 

On Skyscanner you can set up price alerts with alarms for destinations you intend to travel to, and you will also find the cheapest flights available.

22. Cut out gambling and other money games 

Many people like to spend money on gambling such as lotto and betting, but in the vast, vast majority of cases, it always ends up in a loss that will never pay off.

Instead, put the amount you would have spent on such activities into a savings account, mutual fund or shares.

23. Switch to a cheaper fitness center

Why work out at an expensive gym if you can work out at a cheaper one?

Many people spend a lot of money on expensive gyms, but there are often much cheaper alternatives.

If you really want to save money, the cheapest course is to drop out of the gym altogether and work out outdoors or at home instead.

24. Spend less on alcohol & smoking

As a student or young adult, many people spend a lot of money on nightlife. In other words, going to town with friends is expensive. Here are 2 tips to save money out there:

  • Go out drinking less often
  • Cut down on the number of drinks you buy when out
  • Reduce (or completely cut out) smoking

By dropping a weekend of going out and at the same time cutting down on the number of drinks once you’re out, you can save a significant amount of money during the entire month.

25. Drop that Taxi after a trip to the city

It’s easy to get into a taxi after a trip to town – but it’s expensive! It will be especially expensive if you are out very often.

Going home: Is it a short way home? By walking the road home for 10 – 20 minutes, you can quickly save quite a bit in taxi money. Also, you get to burn some calories that the evening has brought with it.

Take the night bus: Many places have dedicated night buses (or metro) that take people home from the city. The night buses are often very affordable and in some cases free.

Arranging a ride with friends: Arranging a ride with friends, family or “acquaintances” at a fixed price in advance for the city trip can often save you a good amount of money.

26. Hang out with friends without spending money

hang out with friends
Vladimir Vladimirov / iStock

Many social gatherings involve spending money, but there is a lot you can do with friends without it costing a whole lot.

To make it easier to find something for free or cheap, it is a good idea to discuss with your friends that you’re broke and want to save money.

Often times the answer from your friends will be that they would also love to save money!

Something you can do together that does not cost a lot of money is, for example, go for a walk in the woods, have a movie night or a series marathon, play board games or cards, play video games or play football and other sports.

It can also be nice to arrange a joint dinner where everyone brings their own dish.

27. Save money on electricity 

There are many measures you can take to save electricity at home: 

  • Take shorter and colder showers
  • Turn off lights in rooms that you do not use and when you are not at home
  • Turn off the TV and other electrical appliances when not in use
  • Use less electric heat
  • Wait to use the dishwasher and washing machine until they are full
  • Switch to a cheaper electricity supplier

You can also save money by switching power supplies.

Electricity is one of the basic amenities that’s at your house no matter what. When it comes to the electricity supplier, price is therefore the most important thing to think about. 

Several electricity suppliers often have good offers, but be careful to not get lured by offers that are too good to be true.

28. Save money on insurance 

If you want to save money, it may be a good idea to take a look at your insurance policies. 

You can end up saving a lot of money by choosing the right insurance companies and policies.

But beware, many of the cheapest insurance companies are cheap per month – but provide poor assistance in case of an accident. 

Therefore, read the text in small print well before you decide. For example, there are big differences in compensation amounts by different companies if you crash your car.

29. Do not take out a consumer loan

Do not take out expensive consumer loans to make ends meet! Consumer loans will only lead to a vicious circle of you having even tighter finances later.


Saving money isn’t going to be an easy task when you’re broke but it’s going be well worth the effort in those tough times.

These little adjustments to your daily life mentioned above can have a huge long-lasting positive impact on your financial life. Hopefully, these tips can help you reach your financial goals.

And always remember – Being broke is a state of mind. There’s always a way to save money.

Are there any other ways that have helped you to save money when you’re broke? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Deepranjan Ghosh
Hi, I'm Deep! Founder of GeekyBucks, Certified Ethical Hacker, part-time professional DJ and an avid blogger. With GeekyBucks I try to bring personal insights about my core passions of personal finance, technology and making money online in a detailed, easy to understand format to all our readers.


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