Let’s get honest with ourselves for a minute. Working a minimum wage job can totally suck. Between rent, groceries, bills and extra expenses, we’re lucky if we have $10.00 in our accounts by the end of the week. The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t have to be like that. We all spend money where we shouldn’t just for convenience sake, and if you’re trying to save your money, that just can’t be. Over the past few years and a whole lot of research and experimenting on “money saving tricks and tips,” I’ve come up with my own list of fool proof tips to help you really save money while living on minimum wage pay.
Find a roommate and split the bills.
It’s pretty self explanatory if you think about it. If you move in with a roommate, your rent is practically cut in half, and after talking about the bills and divvying them up, you can find yourself saving hundreds of dollars a month. Whatever you do, just make sure that your new roomie is reliable with their payments. The last thing you want to come home to is an apartment with no electricity because they didn’t have the funds to cover their end.
Keep a budget for each month.
Again, super self explanatory. Keeping a monthly budget is going to make sure you keep yourself in line. A budget’s main purpose is to help you figure out how much money you really have to work with for the month or week once all of your bills are accounted for. There’s quite a few ways to keep track of your budget, whether it be written on paper or online. Personally, I like using Mint.com because it basically does all the leg work for me. It helps me to keep track of my bank accounts, as well as helping me find the best credit card for me to improve my credit. Another awesome feature of Mint.com is that you can literally watch your loans diminish as you’re paying them monthly. It’s kind of like a count down to your financial freedom–woohoo! Plus Mint.com is a super secure, encrypted server, so you can be sure that no one is going to take your information from online.
Keep track of the specific days that bills are due.
This is almost too easy for me to put into words. No one likes surprises, especially when they involve your bank account. Keep a calendar/planner and write down your payment dates for all of your bills. This way you don’t have any bills that are unaccounted for in your budget and you won’t go to swipe your card to buy groceries and be left embarrassed with a declined card and a declining self-esteem.
Save receipts. ALWAYS.
We all make impulse buys, even when we try our hardest. Impulse buys can easily throw your budget off course and lead us to make cuts in our budget where it really didn’t allow. I find myself saying “I don’t have time to try this on” or “I’ll just return this later if it wasn’t worth it” but then I always find myself searching for the receipts when something doesn’t fit right but never actually finding the receipt. Set aside a folder that can hold all of your receipts, whether it be grocery items, clothing/shoes/accessories, or bills. You never know when you’re going to need to bring something back, or dispute a charge. Plus, it’ll help you seriously get a good look at your budget. If you’re spending too much on luxury for the month, all those receipts will show you that and you can readjust for the next month.
Sell old clothing online.
Selling clothing we don’t wear online can help us pull in a little cash when you may need it the most. Hey, at least that’s something you could do with the useless impulse buys that have never been used before! Websites such as Poshmark make it possible for us to make back some of the money that we’ve carelessly spent on clothing items, shoes, or accessories that are still in good condition. Though it isn’t a way to save money on minimum wage, it sure helps when things get tight in the budget.
Students: Rent your textbooks.
If you’re in school, you know how much your textbooks can cost per semester. We spend hundreds of dollars on brand new books just to pass the courses when there is such a more cost efficient way to get our school required texts. Websites such as Amazon or Textbookrentals.com will almost always have the textbooks you need to buy either at a lower price, or for a rental cost. Nearly everyone I know in college rents used textbooks for their classes and it helps them save hundreds and hundreds of dollars each semester. There is no reason that any college student needs a $300 textbook sitting around collecting dust after their final grades have been given for whatever class it may be. If you’ve already bought brand new textbooks that now live on a dusty, crowded bookshelf in your room, I’d recommend selling them on Sellbackyourbook.com and get some of that cash back.
Avoid spending money on fast food.
I get it, fast food is convenient. With a coffee shop at every corner and multiple fast food joints on every main road, it’s hard to avoid. You know that it’s going to be easier to stop and get a breakfast sandwich then make one on your own before you get on the road for the busy day ahead. But think about this: if you just spend five minutes making something quickly, you’re no doubt getting something in your body that is far more nutritious and way less processed, AND you’re saving money!
I’m not saying you can’t ever buy fast food or splurge a little when you’re running late, but don’t make it a habit just because it’s easy. If you tend to go out and get a morning cup of coffee (or five) at Starbucks, set aside your receipts for the month, and just look at how much you’re spending just on coffee. With all that money, you could be buying a nice coffee maker (which you’ll only have to purchase once) and making your own coffee. The upside of making your coffee straight from home is that you will literally only have to pay for the coffee beans, or K-Cups every month or two, which could easily be bought in bulk for a cheaper price at a Costco or online at Amazon. As much as we all love fast and convenient lifestyles, they aren’t conducive to a cost efficient lifestyle and lets be real, we don’t need all that grease and processed food in our lives.
Shop the sales.
If you’re in the need of something specific, take a look around at different stores before you buy it from the first place you find it. There’s nothing wrong with buying something on a bargain. In fact shopping the sales and hunting for good bargains is the smartest thing you can do, no matter how tight your wallet is. Even if you’re a CEO with a 6 figure income, you can always benefit from a good sale shopping. When you’re living on a minimum wage pay, anyway you can save a few extra dollars here or there is only helping to build your empire.
Living on a tight, restricted budget can feel like a bummer, but it doesn’t have to be. Just because you don’t have $50,000 saved just yet doesn’t mean you have to take away the little things you love such as coffee, shopping, and social time with the friends. All of those things can be done in moderation, but they can also be done more frequently in a cost effective way. Whether it be buying a Keurig so you can have coffee whenever, at an extremely low price, shopping when an item is on sale, or having a girls night in, there are plenty of ways we can cut back in our everyday lives while living on a minimum wage paycheck.