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Saving Money When You Don’t Have Money – How Will I Save $3000 in 5 Months

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So, I’ve decided to improve my finances. Now it is time for work!

I’ve always known that having an emergency fund is important so you can brace yourself from a financial disaster when life throws a curve ball at you. I read that over and over everywhere but admittedly, this only dawned on me when I finally came face to face with a real financial struggle. It was hard and I don’t want it to happen again.

So, I figured, I should start this financial road trip with an emergency fund of $3000. 

The big question, though, is HOW will I be able to build this emergency fund when I have a small baby and as a stay-at-home mom with a small and unstable income?

I love reading finance blogs and here are some tips I’ve learned from other bloggers on how to save money when you barely have enough money to start with. I hope these tips will help get me somewhere financially by the end of the year as they help you as well. 

I love reading finance blogs and here are some tips I’ve learned from other bloggers on how to save money when you barely have enough money to start with. I hope these tips will help get me somewhere financially by the end of the year as they help you as well.

1.Evaluate expenses and eliminate financial leaks

We all have expenses but not all of our expenses are necessary. Some expenses may even seem too little or insignificant but when accumulated over time, they actually eat up a huge chunk of your budget.

For example, when I was working 9-5, I would spend money for lunch and coffee every single day. These are expenses that could easily be cut down or eliminated if I  brought my own lunch or coffee brew to work. If you do the math, store-bought coffee can cost you at least $700 per year.

If you are able to plug these spending leakage, you will be able to free up some money for your savings.

But I admit, our household expenses need some work.

Here are some areas that we need to evaluate or change to reduce or eliminate financial leaks. You might want to evaluate the following expenses as well as these may be draining your money away.

  • Phone Plan

We are currently paying $200 for four phones and one of which we don’t even use. We are already talking about switching to another provider to save 30% of our current bill. That will save us $720 per year!

  • Toll

Tolls may not be an issue if you live in the U.S. but here in Puerto Rico, tolls suck money! When I was working 9-5, I would spend $20 for toll per week and that’s $960 per year! You have no choice if that’s the only way to go to work but it becomes a financial leak if you take toll roads just to go shopping.

 To save money on toll, we need to schedule our grocery shopping only once or twice a month instead of weekly. This would save us $96 per year.

  • Groceries

Groceries can become a financial leak if you don’t plan your shopping wisely. To save at least $50 a month, we need to do more bulk buying of non-perishable items. 

I should make it a habit to make a list of items to buy before going to the store and stick to the list we don’t buy unnecessary items.
Planning is particularly more important for perishable items to avoid throwing away food.

  • Taxes and Interests

Most people don’t realize how much taxes can cost them if they don’t pay them on time. Although the IRS offers an installment plan to pay your taxes (which is a relief if you don’t have the money to pay it in full), this payment method can cost you more as you are still incurring penalties and interest for each month that the debt is not paid in full. 

The best way to deal with your taxes is to always set money aside for them as soon as you get your pay. 

  • Utility

Electricity is expensive in Puerto Rico as the island only relies on fuel for energy. Added the VATs, it can get really hefty if we don’t use energy wisely. We’ve invested in energy-efficient lights as well as solar lights to lower the cost, but I think we can still further lower the bill by planning meals to reduce using the stove or eliminating energy wasters by simply unplugging appliances when not in use.

  • Bank or ATM Charges

These are ridiculous unnecessary charges. Switch to another financial institution if your bank doesn’t have conveniently located ATMs. 

  • Entertainment 

Can you live without cable tv? As for me, I’d rather not have cable at home because I really don’t watch TV that much and I’d rather do something than sit in front of the TV and munch junk food. You can save at least $300 if you cut cable and also save yourself from pigging out if you are like me who likes to eat while watching a show.

Savings goal from financial leaks: at least $100 per month / $500 for 5 months 

2.Make a Budget.

No matter how much you make, having a budget is important. A budget is basically your spending plan and it ensures that you will have money for the things you need or are important to you.

I suggest that you identify your financial leaks first before you make a budget. If you can plug your spending leakage or reduce them, then you should be able to have extra money to work with for your spending and savings plan.


I am a fan of outsourcing certain tasks so I can focus on more important things. I do that for my writing business, sometimes but for certain personal needs such as hair and nail care, I’d rather do them myself. A haircut (with blow dry) can cost at least $40 and more for other services such as hair treatments. I’ve learned how to cut my own hair by just watching tutorials on YouTube and believe me it’s not really that difficult.

I am not saying you have to give up all your little luxuries in life but if you have a tight budget and want to save some money, you can just DIY certain things and keep the money instead.

Apart from hair and nail care, here are some other things you can DIY to save more money:

  • Gifts
  • Home maintenance
  • Home cleaners such as detergent
  • Home organizers or decorations
  • Clothes (altering old clothes)
  • Kitchen items

Savings goal from DIY projects: $50 per month/ $250 for 5 months 

4.Find FREE Money.

You read me right. Find free money. I never thought there is such a thing as free money, but there still is. This free money comes in the form of gift cards, welcome bonus, cash back, or cold cash. Here are some of the free money sources I’ve started using and are yet to try.

  • Ebates– Receive $10 welcome bonus (+ a cash back for a purchase) if you sign up here.

By the way, I received a $10 welcome bonus on my first purchase and here’s the proof,)

ebates, make money through ebates, cash back , ebates cash back

  • Swagbucks – Receive $5 bonus if you sign up here. ( I missed the $5 bonus but I earned over 300 Swagpoints /$3 value for simply using the site three times.)

FREE  Money Sites I am yet to try for the rest of the year :

MyPoints- It’s another cash-back site that lets you earn rewards by shopping online and printing coupons. I am going to try this site for coupons.

Ibotta- I can’t wait to use this site because it is affiliated with three of the stores (Walmart, Kmart and Walgreens) we go to at least twice a week (because we live close by!).  I can finally get free money from all the purchases we make at these stores without having to worry about shipping fees.

If you sign up here, you get $10 free when you make your first purchase. With Ibotta, you also make $5 per every friend you invite to use it + cash back on making a purchase. Simple!

UPDATE: I used Ibotta a few days after writing this post. As of this writing, I have received $16 from my grocery purchases in Walmart.

Savings goal from cash-back sites: $100 for 5 months

FREE money for moms with small babies:

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)  Food and Nutrition Service

WIC gives free nutrition and food packages ( baby food, vitamins and formula milk) for the following individuals:

  1. Women-  pregnant, new mother, breastfeeding mother with up to a year old baby
  2. Infants – up to a year old
  3. Children – up to 5 years old

In Puerto Rico, you have the option to receive cash instead of goods/supplies and that’s money you don’t have to work for. I will definitely look into this and apply as soon as possible.

Savings from WIC for 5 months: At least $200 worth of goods

5.Don’t get sick!

Health is wealth so for the rest of the year, I’ll prioritize my health.  The good thing about investing in your health is that it doesn’t cost you much but the return is so much more.

6.Make money from home.

The ultimate solution to saving money is to increase your income. Okay. I know what you have in mind. You’ve quit your job to become a stay-at-home mom so why would I advise you to “work” again? I get you.

But there are many ways to make money from home (so you can still take care of your baby) and  it does not necessarily mean getting a new “job”. I still “work” even with a 7-month old baby!

Here are some ideas to make money from home:

Here are my plans to improve my income:

  1. Get extra $500 worth of writing projects per month.
  2. Try at least 5 of the following paid survey sites to earn a few bucks on my free time. This is a great option if you like answering surveys. I will just aim for 50-100 bucks per month from these survey sites.
  • Pinecone Research
  • PaidSurveys
  • OneOpinion
  • Harris Poll Online
  • American Consumer Opinion
  • Survey Junkie
  • Product Report Card
  • VIP Voice
  • Prize Rebel
  • Survey  Club
  • YouGov
  • SaySo4Profit
  • PanelBucks
  1. Make money from my other hobbies. I like decorating cookies and I would really love to start selling some for Halloween and Christmas. 

My savings goal from working from home: $2500 for 5 months

7.“Grow” money.

Money grows on trees! Nope.

But you can grow your own food and that translates to money as well. I used to grow a lot of vegetables before the baby and it saved us at least $10 per week. Now, I’d be happy to just have three herbs and save $6 per week ( a bunch costs $2-3 at the supermarket) and that’s $288 per year!

Savings goal from herb garden: $40 for 5 months 

You don’t have to follow this plan. You can customize yours based on your situation and goals. What’s more important is that you start NOW and that any saving, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.

Do you have  other  tips on how to save money when you are broke? Share them below!

(P.S. I will write a separate post in one month or two about the progress of this money-saving challenge using the sources mentioned in the post. Stay tuned!)


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  1. Amazing tips! This will really help me out!

  2. Thank you for great post! Although we have to treat ourselves sometimes, on the other hand, we need to cut down the waste of money. It’s really difficult to save money perfectly. But your list reminded me of what we can cut off to save money. Good work! In my case, I walk instead of the transportation and cook extra food at an once and preserve in the fridge or freezer to save money.

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Hi Fumiko , thanks for stopping by. Walking is a great exercise too! I will be doing the same…cooking a big meal to eat for 3 days. It can save us lots of time!

  3. These are really useful tips! I loved them all, especially the last one, make money from home. I am definitely giving your free guide a try! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Nice article, very informative! I never knew that there is a free money.

    By the way, money can buy happiness & Money does grow on tree. I have written a separate article on it.

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Thank you for stopping by! True, money can buy happiness, not always though. I corrected that part. 😀 I’ll check your post 🙂

  5. Hi, Janey! Wow. This post is really inspiring on two levels. First, I’m inspired to work on cutting down on my monthly, yearly, costs. Second, I’m encouraged to hear that you manage to keep working from home, even with a 6-month-old baby! I often get the impression from moms that doing anything in addition to caring for kiddos is impossible. And maybe it is for some, depending on so many factors. But I hope I’ll be able to continue doing some writing/blogging, at least, post-children! Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Hi Anna! It’s really difficult to juggle many things at a time with a small baby but I need to try because little progress in life makes us feel better. As a stay-at-home mom, i need to remind myself that there’s more to life aside from taking care of our children and husband. I’m following you on bloglovin so I can easily see when you have new posts up.

      1. Yes, that makes sense! BTW, I didn’t mean to call you “Janey” – but must have got that mixed up. I’m not big on pretending to be besties with strangers – don’t worry. 😉 So, JANE, thanks for the comment back and thanks SO much for following me on BlogLovin. I will gladly follow you back…

        1. P.S. I just followed you on Bloglovin, but it doesn’t look like you are following me yet? I am new to Bloglovin, so maybe I’m missing something. Anyway, FYI! 🙂

        2. Jane Susaeta

          Hi Anna, you can call me Janey too! No worries! I just followed you on bloglovin. Sorry, I got super busy with my baby just awhile ago and forgot to hit follow. Bloglovin is cool , it makes following blogs super easy.

          1. Ah, thanks, Janey! And no worries – glad you are taking care of the little on over following my blog! 🙂 Alas, my Bloglovin profile still shows that I have “0 followers,” so I’m not sure what wrong. Anyway, I’ll survive 😉

          2. Jane Susaeta

            Hi Anna! I checked again and I was already following you. Maybe you needed to refresh the page?

          3. Hey, Jane! Yep, figured out what was wrong. I haven’t properly “claimed” my blog on Bloglovin, but I do see now that you are following me. So I’ll clear that up soon, but in the meantime, thanks again! 🙂

  6. This is such a comprehensive list! Little savings here and there really add up.

  7. Wonderful post! I loved your money saving tips!

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Thanks, Mary!

  8. amazing tips for saving money! I will sure try some of them.

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Thanks! 😉

  9. Amy

    I’m so bad with all of these things! I think my husband and I are wasting at least $100 a month by having two different plans. You’ve inspired me to consolidate!

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Hey Amy! Thanks for stopping by. You definitely can save $500 easy in a year by consolidating your phone plans.

  10. These are really useful tips..organizing the money is not a matter of joke. The most tough work in life. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Absolute fun post !!! Unique point of view

  12. Amazing tips you got there, in short all of us need to save ofcourse 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  13. Wonderful tips. And you’re right, it is hard to save money, when you aren’t really bringing any in. But your tips are definitely helpful!

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Thank you, Ashley

  14. hal

    these are amazing tips – good luck getting to your goal – i have a funny feeling i would not even be able to come close!

  15. These are really great tips! I think we could all do with saving more and putting extra money away so I will defiantly be using these tips!

  16. I know so many people who need to read the article and I will share it with them. Many people doesn’t realize the importance of a rainy day storm or never believe they can have one. You made it clear and possible.

    1. Jane Susaeta

      Thank you!

  17. white

    The topic itself is so convincing to read. I can relate very much on what you said need to save money, though no extra money, before I believe I can only save if I have extra but as I grow it changed.

  18. I need to take a good look at a few of the ways that you are putting extra money into your pocket. I try to stock up the freezer full of chicken when our grocery store runs b1g1. It comes out cheaper than paying for it when we need it.

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