How To Save Money When You Have No Money

In shocking news, a survey conducted in the US found that the less money you earn, the less likely you are to have a savings account and in turn a saving money strategy.

We mere mortals here in Australia are truly shocked. Thank you America for this in-depth and comprehensive study into the obvious. Captain America? More like Captain Obvious.

Ok snarky little comments aside, this piece of information opens up a very interesting point and really made me think about how the general public must view saving money.

If you wish to skip ahead, you can see actionable tips on how to save money in the table of contents below. Otherwise, read on down the page to understand how you can start to save money when you don’t have any money.

Table of contents:

People think you can’t save money unless you already have left over cash

It seems to indicate that the general consensus about saving is that in order to do so, you must already have a sizeable amount of money coming in and left over cash after each pay day. It’s almost saying that saving money is simply for the wealthy, as leftover money in a monthly budget isn’t a common occurrence amongst those in tighter situations.

For example; it appears people believe that only after all of your expenses are paid and you have left over cash sitting in an account, do you then actually start to save money.

While I understand why some may agree with this, it really is a mindset that is negative and further propagating a lack of discipline about what saving money really stands for.

It misses the point of what saving is all about

The whole point of saving money is to find ways to save more. It’s not called ‘earning money’ as it doesn’t rely 100% on your income and what is left over (though income does help of course).

Instead, it relies on your ability to be smart with money; cut costs, get better deals and pocket the savings you make into your separate online savings account.

Another example: You have two people who are 35 years old. They both own the exact same car and have the exact same driving history; in fact, they are completely the same (on paper) in every aspect of their life. The only difference is their salary – one earns $45,000 per year, the other $150,000 per year.

The wealthier individual signs up for car insurance through a well-known car insurer because it was the first company that came to mind. His yearly premium is $450 a year for full comprehensive.
The second individual on the lower income opts instead to hunt down the cheapest price for car insurance. She spends 30 minutes getting quotes online to hunt down which is best for her. In doing so, she manages to find insurance for $230 per annum, a saving of $220 every single year.

Moral of the story?

While the wealthier person earns more money – they are not making smart financial choices. They are actually $220 a year worse off when it comes to car insurance. Now imagine how many scenarios this example could roll out to; home insurance, pay TV, mobile plans, weekly grocery shops, types of credit cards – the list goes on and on.

A Guide To Saving Money When You Don't Have Anyy

So how can you save money when you don’t have any?

E.g. How can I save money when I’m broke?

Today we investigate how to save in tight times. It is said that when interest rates are low, the world grows due to spending and debt, as opposed to saving.

Here at Savings Guide we see lower interest rates as an ideal opportunity to get ahead on debt, really chip away at it and find ways to save money so you can increase your repayments, not get into more debt.

Here are some actionable examples and ways to start saving money when you’re living pretty close to the bone each pay cheque.

Start saving today, tomorrow will not be easier

It’s the simplest way to get a savings system happening. Start immediately. Even if you save a mere $5 into a high interest savings account – it’s better than constantly making excuses and delaying your start.

Let me tell you right now that no matter who you are or how much you earn, there will never be a point in your life where saving money is easy. Even if you are Bill Gates you will end up with ‘Bill Gates sized’ money issues.

Don’t set up to starve yourself next week to make up for not saving today – instead just start small and work your way upwards. Much like getting fit, a ‘journey starts but with one step’ – while a few dollars saved may seem like a drop in the ocean, it will start a savings routine that will be hugely beneficial longer term.

Automate your savings strategy

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is one of my favourite sayings. This rings true when trying to save money – why not try automating your savings so that you never really notice the money missing?
You can do this two ways: organise a direct debit with your high interest account or ask your employer to deposit a percentage of your pay to a different account.

It’s easier if you don’t have to be the one responsible for moving the money. However, some of us (me included) find ourselves tempted to withdraw our savings. If you find yourself in this position, it might be wise to consider the benefits of term deposits to avoid digging into your savings.

Sell your excess stuff

Got no money? Broke? Get rid of the stuff you bought when you weren’t broke. Odds are you have a whole swag of items around your house that were purchased when the going was good.

Think about things you own that you rarely used. For me it’s technology items; I have an iPad, Notebook, old mobiles, digital cameras and more – all of which just sit in boxes at home. Why not sell these items online and release the cash from these items so it can earn you interest?

It is always surprising to see how true the saying is; ‘one man’s junk is another mans treasure’ – case in point when I sold an old Rugby League ball that was signed by the Canberra Raiders of 1990. I put it on eBay expecting perhaps $50 to $100 for it. It went for $1,200.

Always save your tax refund

Around the end of June, I start to get desperate for my tax return. It is often spent prior to me even confirming I might get one. I tell myself I can pay off my credit card, pay a phone bill, fund a trip to Melbourne and more – spent before I even get a whiff of the actual money.

This year, my tax return will be relied upon for nothing more than to bolster my savings. Why not focus on a year long plan to not require the tax money that may be coming. Budget better for bills, find ways to save – just never rely on a tax return to buy anything.

This will leave you free to save your refund and use it on something you really need further down the track. All you need to do is promise yourself to save your tax refund every single year.

Cancel a few daily expenses and save

I’m not suggesting the cup of coffee, necessarily (though this is an easy way to save nearly $1000 every year for a cup a day drinker).

Instead look at what you are spending money on, and try and cut one daily expense out and save the money instead.

If you are feeling pretty skint, there may not be much to cut though I have never met someone who doesn’t have 5-10 purchases they make regularly that couldn’t be improved upon or completely cancelled.

Don’t sacrifice your one tiny luxury and submit yourself to a life of total misery. Instead, track your spending and look for unnecessary financial burdens.

Examples of things you could cancel (or simply reduce) include;

  • Cancelling Foxtel
  • Reducing your mobile plan
  • Stop paying ATM fees
  • Get a bank account that is fee free
  • Try and reduce your food intake (if you overeat like me)
  • Start to investigate cheaper commuting options to work
  • Opting for a small broadband plan
  • Stop buying entertainment items (movies, junk food, video games, etc)

For those with mortgages or other debts, opt to pay a few dollars more (or as much as you can) to help you save money when you don’t have any.

Some may struggle to set aside cash for a high interest account, though increasing your minimum repayment by $5 or even $100 per repayment is a great way to force your savings and save money on interest.

Remember, an extra $5 now will save you many times that in interest. So technically you are repaying debt faster and saving money when you don’t have any by reducing your interest payable.

Get an auto rounding account to save money

There are some innovative new products out there that the big banks are starting to release. For instance, a transaction account that rounds up every purchase you make and saves the remaining money into a savings account automatically. A purchase for say $15.60 could be rounded up to $16 or perhaps even $20 – automatically saving you either $0.40 cents or $4.40.

This is the ultimate savings tool as it’s money you would never notice, especially for people trying to save when they don’t have much money. Once again it’s the small steps mentality as that is the key to saving when you are broke.

Currently these accounts are available through St.George, Bank Of Melbourne and Bank SA – see further details below:

Start using coupons more

Coupons are increasingly becoming available for just about every business, service and website. If you are struggling to save money, hunt down deals and vouchers for purchases you regularly make. The savings you achieve from using a coupon or voucher can then be added to your savings.

If you are wanting to buy from an online store, do a Google search for the name of the store followed by ‘coupon’ or ‘voucher’ or ‘discount’. Odds are you will find some coupon codes that achieve a discount or special offer on the purchase.

Sites worth looking at for grabbing coupon related bargains include: and (Australia).

Needing some coupon inspiration? Start with the back of your weekly grocery receipt. There will be petrol savings per litre + other local deals that may just help you. All of these little things add up, for instance; the petrol dockets you get on these receipts – they save you a few cents per litre. This normally means only $2-$3 per tank of petrol, though do that ALL year and you are looking at a few hundred dollars easy.

Reduce your social life

Got no money and feeling broke? Stop living like you do have money and aren’t broke.

The first thing that has to go is your expensive social life. If you have no money and want to save money – not going out will put a few hundred bucks a year back in your pocket (or for some, a few hundred a week!).

Opt instead to do activities that are fun, healthy and cost no money. Going for walks with the family to get fit, playing sport at a local oval, board games, re-watching movies you purchased and the list goes on.

Always buy the least expensive item at the supermarket

I won’t lament on about buying home brand or supermarket brands to save money. Instead, make it a game when you shop to always buy the cheapest item. In your head you probably think the cheapest version isn’t going to be as good – so I recently put this to the test.

I called it the ‘cheaper challenge’.

I purchased the cheapest pasta and the cheapest bolognese sauce from my local supermarket. The irony? The pasta was no different (how can it be?) and the sauce was actually healthier. The taste was great and I save $5 off every spag bowl I make ongoing.

Needing quick wins to save money? Try these ideas for inspiration on the ‘cheaper challenge’ – nappies, tissues, toilet paper, cleaning products, pasta, milk and bread, canned foods and toiletries – this will give you a really good rounding of products that can save you money by opting for the cheaper option.

Learn the difference between needs and wants

A really quick one; though if you are trying to save when you don’t have money – you really quickly need to understand the difference between needs and wants so that you don’t feel miserable about not buying as much stuff anymore.

Start saving cold hard cash

Save your coins. A quick and small step you can make towards building a cash stash. I won’t harp on about it, though you can read some tips on saving cash here.

Take your money back from the world around you

Ever realised how all of your money gets sucked up by bills, services and products? Everything is fighting for your hard earned money. Why not try and reclaim your money by saying no to things?

Is your rent too high? Find a cheaper place. Mortgage too much? Maybe your house is too expensive. Grocery bill too high? Perhaps you need to eat less or strategise what’s going wrong? Car repayments killing you? You’ve bought a car you can’t afford.

While the rising cost of living is partly to blame for just about everything that costs us money, there is still a lot of things we can do to really save money if we wanted.

Herb gardens can save you $10 a week

While some may laugh, I recently got really made when I realised that every week, I was spending around $10 on herbs like dill, mint, basil and more. These tiny little bunches of herbs that we love to cook with were around $2-3 a bunch.

I went to Bunnings and purchased some seeds, a pot and some soil. 6 weeks on I have so many herbs I can barely use them in a week. That’s a saving of $520 a year and I can reap the benefits of these herbs FOREVER.

Free haircuts

A great way to save money when you have none is to not spend. Do a little search for places to get free haircuts near you. Often there are hairdressers in training that want crash test dummies to work on.

While this may sound risky, it’s not too bad for the males of the family.

Look at starting a business to earn more money

While I mentioned above that saving money isn’t completely dependant on how much you earn, sometimes it’s the only solution to your problem.

Once you rule out living above your means and other ways to save money – the obvious next step is to go about obtaining more money.

Why not consider starting a business? Or perhaps looking for passive income opportunities in your local area? Mow lawns, do ironing, walk dogs – do whatever comes easiest to you in order to get some cash.

Attend market research nights to make money

Not really a tip to save money, though you should look up market research providers near you – they offer you money to go and discuss products or try new things.

I once got paid $200 to discuss a new Windows Operating system in some market research for 2 hours. Another time I tried Green Tomato Sauce on some snags for $50 – not a bad life is it?

Final thoughts

It’s not an easy thing to start saving money when there are so many demands on your income, and especially if it was never that huge to begin with. Rest easy, however, that any saving, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.

Tell us how you save when you have none

Share your tips to save when you find yourself a little skint, broke or light in a given month below.


  1. loz says

    I really like this advice; its obvious it’s written by someone who is or has been broke, and is realistic! Yay for not cutting out your one luxury – its so true, otherwise you might as well be a zombie

  2. anonymous says

    This site is amazing! I’m only 21 and have only just woken up to the fact that I need to be saving, if only I started younger!

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