7 Tips To Save Money When You Live Paycheck-To-Paycheck

You’ve read financial tips, cut out unnecessary spending, made a budget, and followed it religiously. But somehow, you still struggle to save money. What’s the deal?

According to The Penny Hoarder, it may be due to your fixed expenses. Things like your home, car, property taxes, and insurance add up — and take up most of your income. And unfortunately, these essential bills aren’t things you can cut out like specialty coffee trips. You could reduce your housing expense by moving, but that’s costly, too.

So, what should you do? One idea is checking out these tips from The Penny Hoarder. 

1. Shop Smarter

You might not have the ability to predict when you’ll need money for a home repair or medical bill, but you can time discretionary purchases. Retailers often have seasonal deals throughout the year. 

For example, if you need a new TV, wait until January — that’s because the previous year’s models go on sale to make space for more recent models. Or, if you need a new living room set, you can find the cheapest furniture around the fourth of July since many companies are liquidating their inventory. 

2. Get Free Stuff

You don’t have to become a shut-in to cut costs. There are tons of ways you can do things for free (or next to it) or find items at a discounted rate, such as:


  • Facebook and Nextdoor. Don’t pay full price for something without first checking groups on Facebook or Nextdoor to see if someone in your area is offering it for free.
  • Download restaurant apps. Many restaurants offer one-time rewards to people who download their apps. 
  • Look for birthday month freebies: Even if it’s not on your actual birthday, most places offer discounts or free things for your whole birth month. 
  • Find free entertainment at your local library. Most libraries have expanded their collection beyond books to include movies, music, ebooks, games, and more for free.


3. Eliminate Your Credit Card Debt For Good

The average credit card APR is 16%. Creditors love it when you carry a balance because it means they profit off steep interest payments. If you want to start saving and stick it to the bank, focus on getting out of debt. Here are a few strategies to consider:


  • The snowball method, where you pay off the card with the smallest balance first
  • The avalanche method, where you pay off the card with the highest interest rate
  • A debt consolidation loan, where you pay off your credit card debt with a personal loan, then focus on repaying that single debt. This method is ideal for people who want to reduce their interest rates.
  • A balance transfer credit card, which consolidates your debt onto one card with a zero-APR introductory offer. This gives you 12 to 18 months to get out of debt, so it’s best for those who don’t have much debt.


4. Refinance Your Mortgage

Interest rates are at an all-time low, which means that now is the best time to consider refinancing your mortgage. If you decide to make this move, try to refinance when you can reduce your interest by at least 1% since this can offset some of the closing costs.

5. Reduce Your Student Loan Payments

If you’re having a hard time making student loan payments, contact your lender to discuss income-based payment plans. This plan will spread out your repayment period over 10 to 20 years, and if you still owe after 20 years, you will be forgiven (however, you will still need to pay income taxes on it). 

If you hold student loans from a private lender, contact your provider about a strategy to reduce your monthly payments.

6. Go To The Grocery Store Prepared

Going to the grocery store without a list or when you’re hungry is the surest way to overspend. To avoid this, make sure you always come prepared with a full belly and a shopping list. Another way to save on your food bill is taking the time to plan out the week’s meals. This way, you know exactly what you need and don’t waste money on food that goes bad before you use it.

7. Switch Cell Phone Providers

Chances are, your current cellphone company charges you way too much for what you’re getting. Luckily, there are many discount plans available that can help you save without skimping on coverage or service. Most discount plans use the same network as major carriers, though you might encounter some data restrictions. Additionally, you may need an unlocked phone to get a plan, but you can also purchase an affordable model directly from the carrier.


  • Hartill, Robin. “25 Painless Ways to Save Money When Your Paycheck Is Already Stretched Thin.” The Penny Hoarder, The Penny Hoarder, 4 Dec. 2020, www.thepennyhoarder.com/save-money/how-to-save-money/?aff_sub2=seo-hp-block-1.