How I Save $1,000 A Year Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Mind on my money, money on my mind.

man putting coins in jar Backgroundy / Shutterstock

I know… I know… For a lot of our readers, the thought of saving money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck is a joke.

It’s not that working people don’t want to save, it’s just that too many of us are struggling with trying to pay the rent and put gas in the car that by the time the month is over, there’s nothing left to save.

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I’m not going to lecture anyone on the importance of saving, but let me share some tips on how I broke the “paycheck to paycheck” cycle:

Month 1:

Open an online savings account and deposit something, anything. Heck, roll your quarters if you have to.

There are a bunch of great online banks, but one of my favorites is Fidelity because they’re are no monthly fees and they offer Penny Hoarders a cashback rebate on any ATM fees you encounter. Fidelity also offers an interest rate on your balance.

You can open a savings account at your local bank, but my suggestion is to go with an online bank. You’ll be less likely to withdraw the money. And, I know it doesn’t seem worth it to deposit only a few bucks, but getting started is an extremely important first step! Just trust me.


Month 2:

This month I want you to save $15 in your new savings account. Again, if you can do more, awesome!

If you need a little help earning an extra $15, I’d check out Swagbucks & Ipsos Panel. They are the two best survey sites, and if you sign up for both, you should easily make an extra $15-$30/month (most surveys pay between $3-$4 each for 20 minutes of your time). Heck, sometimes I fill them out while I’m watching Netflix.

Another great way to earn $15 is with Smart Panel. If you install their free app on your smartphone, they’ll pay you $15 after only two weeks of it being installed. And they’ll continue to pay you $5/month.

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There are also a ton of different ways to make extra money on this site, so start poking around the archives. Remember you just need $15 this month.

Month 3:

Our goal is to work up to saving $100/month in the savings account. I know that seems lofty, but I’m going to help you earn that extra $100/month.

For this month, I just want you to try and put away $30 in the account.

One of my favorite ways to make a quick $30 is with InboxDollars. There are a number of websites that will pay you to read advertisers’ emails, sign up for offers, and take surveys. I’ve tried about a million of them, but there are only a few of them that I would recommend. Inbox Dollars is one of those companies.


It’s free to join Inbox Dollars and best of all, they give you $5 just for signing up. Inbox Dollars just requires that you accumulate $30 in earnings before you can “cash out” and they pay you by sending a check. Some sample offers to include one that asks you to sign up for an email newsletter from AMF Bowling. That pays 50 cents and takes about 15 seconds. Another offer asks you to sign up for a free account at to earn $3.50.

These are simple and there are nearly a hundred of them to choose from. If you are interested in giving Inbox dollars a try, visit the sign-up page here to get started (open to every country).

Need a different idea?

Another great way to earn $30 is with Bing Rewards. They will actually pay you to use their search engine on both your phone and computer. It’s not a ton of money, but think about how many times a day you search for something. Those pennies can start to add up pretty quickly…


Congrats you’ve saved your first $50. That’s something to be proud of!

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Month 4:

Alright, this month it’s time to try and put away $100. Daunting, I know. But I’ve got a few ideas that might help…

  • Try selling some of your old stuff online. For books, use a site like and they’ll compare 30+ different buyback sites and tell you which one is willing to pay the most for your books.
  • Have you tried opening a bank account that offers a signup bonus? Chase will give you a $250 bonus when you open a checking and savings account.
  • You can try our list of 16 Companies giving away $1,810.25. These companies want you to try them out and they’ll pay you to do so. Some of them are easier than others, but just check them out.
  • Or how about mystery shopping? Before I became a blogger, I was a full-time, professional mystery shopper. And I got pretty good at it – earning around $5,000/month. Here’s a list of the companies that I worked for…(none of them will charge you money to signup. And if a mystery shopping company ever tries to charge you, it’s a scam. Stay away from those.)

I know a lot of people are already working two jobs, but mystery shopping can be a way of earning money and relaxing with your friends/family at the same time. My favorite is the restaurant mystery shops – you get a free meal and you get paid!


Month 5 – 12:

Continue saving $100/month for the entire year. We want your year-end account balance to be $950.

Year 2:

It’s important to continue saving at least $100 each month. Use your regular paycheck for living expenses and save any extra money you make from the ideas on this website.

Once you’ve reached year 2, you’ve saved nearly $1,000. At this point, my suggestion would be to open an IRA. Lending Club happens to be my favorite (because I’m earning 14 %/year), but anywhere will do.


Just one more piece of motivation. If you can continue to save $100/month for the next 20 years (at 14% interest), you’ll end up with $106,022! Can you imagine? More than $100,000 in a bank account! 

You can do this. End the cycle today.

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Kyle Taylor is a freelance writer whose blog The Penny Hoarder helps others save money.