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Saving With Low Income

This article was written by in Saving. 23 comments.

MP Dunleavey gives her readers 19 ways to save when income is not quite as high as would be comfortable. The tips are practical and can be applied to just about anyone for whom saving more money is a goal, regardless of income. Here are some of her suggestions, submitted by readers:

* Stash a dollar in a jar every time you do the laundry. That’s a clever idea. Any suggestion in the pattern of “Stash a dollar in a jar every time you x” would do, where x is any action, whether it involves an expense or not. How about “Stash a dollar in a jar for every fifteen minutes you watch television” or “Stash a dollar in a jar every time you stash a dollar in a jar.” I like the last one — although as your savings in the jar approaches infinity, you might have problems with your phone bill… or all bills for that matter.

* Save all your $5 bills in a coffee can or save all your $20 bills in shoe box. This is another interesting idea in which bills of a certain type are hidden from use. Trips to the ATM would be rendered pointless if the second suggestion is followed.

* Cash in your spare change. I do this one every month or so (although my quarters are always kept aside for laundry). When I cash mine in, I put the money into an bank account that doesn’t get touched normally. Actually, this fund helped pay for the new mattress.

* Salt away all those little rebates, refunds and reimbursement checks. I admit I’m horrible when it comes to rebates, but I make sure I cash in my rewards dollars from CitiBank’s Platinum Dividend Rewards credit card (and no, I don’t carry a balance). While when I have work-related reimbursement coming to me, I make sure I get it right away. My boss still has items — several hundred dollars from each year since 2002 — outstanding. She hasn’t submitted reimbursement forms yet.

* Take free money. If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes. This was the advice given to Dr. Ray Stantz. The same rule applies to free money, as long as you read the fine print to make sure the offer has no hidden fees, etc.

* Even if you love to save, it can be hard to sock away that cash — unless you let Mother Technology do it for you. The saver’s best friends are Direct Deposit, automatic transfers, and automatic investment plans. If you never see it in your checking account, you’ll never know it’s missing.

Perhaps there will be more later.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published October 16, 2005.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

avatar 1 Anonymous

It’s those basic tips that add up over time and can lead to real savings. It’s just a matter of beginning and sticking to it over the long haul.

avatar 2 Anonymous

Nice Ghostbusters reference! Seriously, saving is extremely important. I think an easy way to save a little extra is to use a good credit card that offers rewards (and of course try to pay off the balance each month). You can get 1-2% in savings on everything you buy with some cards. Great site, keep up the good work.

avatar 3 Anonymous

I loved the “$1 in the the jar every time you put $1 in the jar” idea. One tip that never really caught on in our house was putting $1 in the jar every time you do a chore – we didn’t save any money, and the chores somehow never got done.

avatar 4 Anonymous

I’ll be paying for a good chunk of my Christmas gifts this year using spare change that I converted into an Amazon gift certificate (added to my Amazon referrals and SunRocket rewards, which can be converted into Amazon gift certificates). My family is fairly frugal with the gifting so a couple hundred bucks will cover most of it, and I’ve got nearly half that to spend at Amazon.

I hardly ever buy at Amazon since I live in Washington and have to pay sales tax. ( is 10% cheaper than Amazon for books, and then there’s a 2.5% rebate through, a 1% reward on my Visa, and no sales tax or shipping.) But at Christmas time I can have the gifts shipped out of state, so Amazon’s viable again.

avatar 5 Anonymous

My coworker told me the old one about the penny jar. “If you put a penny in a jar each time you have sex in the first year of your relationship, and you withdraw a penny each time you have sex after the first year of your relationship… you might go the rest of your life without running out of pennies!”

avatar 6 Anonymous

I must say I am thoroughly delighted with the “Stash a dollar in a jar every time you stash a dollar in a jar” advise.

Btw, Mara, by your logic — or your coworker’s rather — doesn’t that mean you either have to only be in relationships that last 1 year or less each or just pretty much stop having sex after the first year? The horror!

avatar 7 Anonymous

As of this year I have put all my rebates in ING … of course, I used to be horrible at rebates but now we don’t miss a single one! And automatic transfers are indispensable :)

avatar 8 Anonymous

Similar to Caitlin’s idea, I keep track of every coupon I use as well and put that (along with the rebates) into ING every week. I do the same with my change, sort of: my pennies go to a charity, my nickels go to my child’s college savings, and my dimes and quarters go into ING. This has resulted in a surprisingly nice balance in ING for the relatively short period I’ve been doing it.