14 Feb 2019

How to save when you have no money

Does money leave your account as fast as it arrives? You’re not alone. Seven out of ten Brits say they find it hard to make ends meet.

But it’s even more important to tuck money away for emergencies if you’re one paycheck away from missing rent. But how can you build a rainy day fund – let alone save for the future – when your income is low?

Take pride in small victories

Some people avoid saving completely because they feel like it’ll never be enough. But anything is better than nothing, so treat every penny you put away as a victory. Focus on what you can save, rather than what you can’t. This will help you develop good habits and save over the long-term.

Be open to change

You may have to make some tough decisions to be able to save. To do this, you must believe in the importance of saving and be willing to change the way you live. Remember, saving money is essential to your security and wellbeing – it’s a kind of self-care.

Face the music

It’s painful to look at your bills and spending habits when money’s tight. But it’s also the first step to taking control of your finances. So don’t put it off! Set aside a few hours this week to create a budget.

Check if you’re overpaying

You may be paying too much on essentials like energy bills, insurance and internet. Try online comparison sites to see whether you could save money by switching to a new provider. Just make sure to read the full T&CS so you aren’t caught out by things like early cancellation fees or set-up charges.

It’s also worth checking you’re paying the correct amount of income tax. You can find out how much you’re being taxed by looking at your payslip.

Make sacrifices

It sucks to give up things you want – but compare this to what would happen if you lost your job with no savings to protect you. If there’s nothing to cut except the basics, consider making a big change like moving to a cheaper home.

Commit to your budget

Consider limiting your spending by using Monzo. You can set your money aside in a Pot at the start of the month, and automatically give yourself a weekly allowance to stop yourself from overspending. Tap to download Monzo now.

You could also try taking cash instead of cards when you go out, so you can’t go over your spending limits (just make sure you have a safe way to get home).

Hold yourself accountable

Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for your actions. Here are some ideas to help you:

  • Make it a rule to read through your bank statements, or use Monzo to get notifications on your phone about your spending activity
  • Tell your friends and family about the changes you’re making and ask for their support
  • Write down goals or rules and put them somewhere visible (like on your wall or fridge)
  • Record everything you buy as you buy it (or use Monzo to track your spending)

Make saving a reason for positive change

Remember what we said about being open to lifestyle changes? Why not use your savings goals as motivation to give up drinking, smoking, gambling or unhealthy takeaways – and vice versa!

Pay off high interest debt first

If you owe money – like on a credit card or a payday loan – you may be paying a high interest rate. This is like pouring money down the drain, so you may want to focus on paying off some or all of the debt first. This can free up money that you could put into savings instead.

Give yourself a jumpstart

Building an emergency fund can protect you from debt and disaster. You could try pulling one together faster by:

  • Stripping back your expenses to the bare essentials for a month
  • Selling some of your stuff – on eBay or at a car boot sale
  • Getting a short-term, weekend/evening job – like dog walking, baby sitting or doing deliveries

Save in the right place

Make sure you have the right kind of account for your savings – this can depend on things like how much you’re putting away each month and whether you need immediate access to the money.

Whatever type of savings account or current account you pick, make sure it’s covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme – this is an independent fund set up by the government to help protect your money.

Take advantage of ‘free’ pension money

Most employees can save for their retirement in a workplace pension. When you put money into it, your employer must pay in money too. You also get income tax back on money you pay into your pension.


To keep track of your spending, stick to your budgets, and find ways to save (even if you’re broke) download Monzo today.

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