Figuring out how to save money without a regular paycheck is tough. The problem with this idea is that not having consistent money coming can make it very difficult to save quickly.
Can you really learn how to save money painlessly?
Yes! Even though balancing a day job with a side hustle, or working with multiple clients can be overwhelming you can stash away cash.
Thankfully, there are genius ways to still save money without a steady paycheck.
The problem with irregular income
The issue many bloggers and freelancers have is irregular income, which equates to irregular savings.
One week you can save much more since there’s money in your bank account, then there are some weeks when you have much less.
This forces you to either modify or cancel your automatic savings plan (which feels like you’re going backwards). Not only is this annoying and time-consuming!
But it also stops your flow of creating a regular savings habit and therefore puts a damper on how fast you reach your goal.
How do you solve this problem?
Below are some proven strategies you can do to reach big financial goals every year. All you have to do is set aside less than 5 minutes every day!
1. Save money painlessly
Lately I’ve been obsessed with microsavings tools. These up-and-coming startups encourage you to save very small amounts of money (like $2, $5 or $10) so you develop a savings habit without even thinking.
The Digit app makes saving money painless. How?
This super simple app withdraws money from your bank account into your Digit savings account based on your current bank balance.
If you only have $5 in your checking account, or even if you’re in the red, Digit won’t withdraw any money. But if you have a week where you make extra money, it will transfer $10 or $14 towards your savings goal.
Side note: the fun part about using Digit is that the account isn’t connected to any online financial software, so you kind of forget the money’s even there.
Click here to start saving with Digit and try it free for 100 days!
2. Open multiple savings accounts
After experimenting with a couple of savings accounts, we found that our spending habits caused us to spend too much money. A great way to remedy this is by opening up multiple savings accounts in order to keep your money separate.
Not all of us are disciplined savers, so instead of kicking against your own nature, it’s important to find ways to develop a savings habit.
One way you can learn how to save money is by creating separate bank accounts and automatically transferring money from your account for that specific financial goal.
Embrace the saving style that you have, and craft a strategy that works WITH your style instead of against it.
Test out different saving ideas and find the one that works best for your personality. Don’t feel guilty if you’re a spender, or have a hard time saving money.
Click here to find out the best online savings account to put your money in!
3. Reduce monthly bills with BillFixers
Now, don’t start dreading this part. I promise that you don’t have to do any negotiating or sitting on the phone for hours with customer service in order to save money on monthly bills.
BillFixers is a new startup that will negotiate your monthly bills FOR YOU. You don’t have to do much of anything. They sound too good to be true, so I tried them out for myself.
And ya know what?! BillFixers saved me $365 on just two of my monthly bills. Imagine if they got a hold of all my bills? Pretty sweet stuff.
Give them a try for yourself and see how much you can reduce your household bills each month. What have you got to lose? But if you don’t, you could be missing out on big savings.
Click here to try out BillFixers for yourself and see how much you can save!
4. Save very small amounts of money
Freelancers don’t have the luxury of having an employer contribute money into a 401k for their retirement. This means we’re responsible for our own futures.
As someone who doesn’t get a regular paycheck I understand how impossible it seems to be able to save for all your financial goals AND invest for retirement.
However it is entirely possible to make this happen. How? Simply invest very small amounts of money. Then once you’ve created a savings habit you can increase those amounts as your income increases over time.
Back in 2010 I opened up a Roth IRA account with Betterment. I was only able to invest $25 a month, but nearly five years later I’ve been able to quadruple that to $100 per month.
Basically this is the investment version of microsaving, which I talked about earlier in this post. Take your time with investing and save whatever amount you can in a Roth IRA — no matter how small.
You could qualify for a Saver’s Credit on your tax return (up to $1,000), and all the interest you earn can be withdrawn completely tax-free.
Betterment has some of the lowest management fees of any robo-advisor. They make investing completely automatic, so you never have to think about.
This is why I use, and recommend, this strategy!
Click here to start saving for retirement with Betterment!
5. Rewards yourself with a bonus
As someone with part-time income it’s a major struggle not having a consistent paycheck. You’re basically at the mercy of future work to get your bills paid, and this doesn’t leave much room for fun money.
One way I am overcoming this frustration is by paying myself a bonus each month. Sometimes it’s only $50 a month and sometimes it’s $100 or more.
But, no matter how much, or how little, my business brings in I still pay myself a little bonus.
I wish I would have started this strategy two years ago when I quit my full-time job. Maybe I wouldn’t have struggled with cash flow or business debt if I had.
Everyone needs some fun money to play with and as a hustler, you deserve it! Experiment with paying yourself a bonus salary until you learn how to save money using a method that works for you.
Read more about the exact formula for paying yourself a bonus as a business owner!
6. Invest micro-amounts of money
If you already have some sort of retirement account set up, the next step is to start investing. I recommend starting in ETFs, or Index Funds with a service called Acorns.
I’ve been testing them out since March 2015 and really like their micro-investing concept. Basically they invest your spare change by rounding up the purchases you make with your checking account.
As an example, last week I spent $63.09 during one of my trips to the grocery, so the remaining $0.91 was rounded up and added to my Acorn account balance.
Once the total round-ups reach $5 or more, the funds are withdrawn from my bank account and added to my Acorns investment.
It takes a long time to save up any amount of value, so don’t think that Acorns is going to make you rich. But investing your spare change is a great place to start if you don’t currently put anything into an investment.
Click here to learn more about micro-investing with Acorns!
7. Try a savings challenge
My final tip for learning how to save money without thinking is to try a savings challenge. My business partner, Cait, actually went on a one-year shopping ban. She decided not to purchase anything outside the essentials — not even take-out coffee!
On the other hand, participating in savings challenges can be more attainable and more fun.
The great thing is that there are lots of different money-saving challenges. You can try a 60-day cash only challenge, or a 12-month Money Challenge (like this inspiration from Pinterest).
You start out by saving $25 and increase the savings by $25 for six months. Then you reverse the process back down to only saving $25 in December.
At the end of the year, you’ll end up with $1,050 for whatever you want.
How to save money
These are just some ideas that you can use to start learning how to save more money and reach your savings goals.
As a blogger and business owner there’s often times a lot of struggle saving money with irregular income. The best place to start is to level out inconsistent cash flow and then budgeting with irregular income.
And then these ideas will help you avoid this struggle and learn how to save money so you can reach your financial goals faster!