10 ways to save when you're making minimum wage

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Frugal Tips from Top Finance Bloggers

Are you squeaking by on minimum wage? If so, it might seem like there is little hope for you to get money into savings. After all, working full time on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour brings in a whopping $15,080 a year before any taxes.

But even if your budget is down to the bare bones, there are still things you can do to build up your savings. Here are 10 ideas worth considering:

1. Get out of debt

If you're only making minimum wage, you can't afford to be sending money to a car financing company, Visa, MasterCard or Discover.

Think about it this way: If you had no house payment, no car payment and no credit card payment, what's left? The only bills you might need to pay would be utilities, taxes, insurance, gasoline for your car and food for yourself. In many areas of the country, you could do that on $15,000 a year.

We'll talk a little more about affordable housing options in a minute, but for everything else in your life, make living debt-free a priority.

2. Hoard gifts of money, tax refunds and other windfalls

To get out of debt and build up your savings, make smart use of any extra cash you get.

For example, if you make minimum wage and have children, chances are you're entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit. That could mean you get thousands of dollars from Uncle Sam each year.

Until you get on firm financial ground, resist the urge to spend windfalls. Put a couple hundred dollars in the bank as an emergency fund and ship the rest off to your creditors. If you're debt-free (hooray!), bank at least half of it before you think about spending a cent.

3. Save your pennies

Start a change jar and put your coins into it every night. At the end of the month, roll up the coins and put them in a savings account.

You won't retire rich off the money you collect, but you could end up with $10 or $20 a month to pad your savings account. That's not much, but when you're making $7.25 an hour, every little bit helps.

View also: 20 unusual ways to earn money quick

21 PHOTOS
20 unusual ways to make quick money
See Gallery
10 ways to save when you're making minimum wage

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

Photo via Getty

Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

Photo via AOL

Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

Photo via Getty

Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

Photo via Getty

Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

Photo via Getty

Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

Photo via Getty

Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

Photo via Getty

Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

Photo via Getty

Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like GoFundMe.com, and see the cash pile up.

Photo via Getty

Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

Photo via Getty

Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

Photo via Getty

Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

Photo via Getty

Rentafriend.com

You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

Photo via Getty

Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

Photo via Getty

Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

Photo via Getty

Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

Photo via Getty

Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

Photo via Getty

Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

Photo via Getty

Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

Photo via AP

Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

Photo via Getty

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

4. Skip processed food

Processed food often is unhealthful. You will feel better and save money on health care costs in the long run if you say goodbye to canned, boxed and frozen meals. If you need some menu inspiration, check out budget cookbooks from your local library. "Family Feasts for $75 a Week" and "The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook" are two you may find worth reading.

5. Park the car

After housing, your car is probably your biggest money pit. You need to pay for insurance, registration and gas, plus you might even have a monthly payment on it.

You'll free up tons of money in your budget if you can get rid of your car or at least drive it less often. Depending on where you live and your personal situation, you may be able to:

  • Use public transportation exclusively.
  • If you're a two-car family, sell one vehicle.
  • If you have years left on a vehicle loan, sell the car and buy a cheaper one.
  • Carpool with a co-worker or friend and split the car costs.
  • Combine errands and appointments to minimize gas and parking costs.

6. Rethink child care

Child care is crazy expensive. If you have two income earners in your house, and both are making minimum wage, you might come out ahead if one adult stays home with the kids. Not only will that eliminate day care costs, you'll also save on gas and other work-related expenses.

7. Sell what you can

Get serious about saving by scrutinizing everything you own.

You could have a yard sale to sell old clothes, trinkets and kitchen gadgets, but think bigger. Sell the furniture you don't need. Sell your movie collection. Sell the TV. I'm serious! The kids will find something else to do.

8. Find a roommate

Finding affordable housing can be a nightmare. Subsidized housing is available, but wait lists are long and the properties aren't always in ideal locations.

If you can't find a place with cheap rent, the next best thing may be to get a roommate. Another option. if you live in a house, might be to rent out a room. Either way, you get a break on your monthly payment as well as on the utilities.

You can find potential roommates on websites like Roommates.com and EasyRoommate.com. Sites like Craigslist or your local paper may be good places to place ads if you have a room to rent.

9. Move somewhere cheaper

Maybe despite your best efforts, you simply can't find an inexpensive place to live. In that case, it may be time to do something radical. You may want to move to a new city or a state with a lower cost of living.

That isn't permission to simply pack up and go without a place to stay or a plan for what to do when you get there. Instead, do your research first and line up a job in advance.

10. Make more money

Finally, if none of these suggestions sounds like much fun, it's because it's really hard to get by on very little income. You know that.

To make more money, you could work harder or you could work smarter. Choose the second option. Rather than spending your life working two or even three jobs to get by, get the right education and training for a career that will let you live comfortably. Look into jobs that require only a two-year associate degree.

Talk to your local community college to find out which careers are in demand in your area. Its financial aid office should also be able to help you learn about programs that can pay for your tuition and eliminate the need to take out student loans.

Do you have any great tips for saving while making minimum wage? Share them in our Forums. It's a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

More from MoneyTalksNews:
​7 Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Incorporate
One Weird (and Infuriating) Reason You May Pay More for Car Insurance
5 Music Streaming Services That Are Still Free

Read Full Story

From Our Partners