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Simple ways to save on a limited income

Strategies for amplifying savings on a limited budget.

By ATB Financial 26 January 2024 3 min read

Costs for everyday living seem to never stop going up. Saving money in an environment of ever-increasing costs may seem like a daunting, if not impossible, task. However, with a little financial know-how there are ways to start or grow your savings, even on a tight budget. Here’s how you can increase your savings without complex ‘bank-speak’ or using scenarios that don’t work for everyone. 


Start Small, Think Big

The journey to financial security begins with a single step. Sometimes that step can be as small as saving a loonie a day. It's not so much about the amount; it's about building the habit. Regularly setting aside even a tiny portion of your income can create a foundation for a healthier financial future. Consistent saving means you can save up for those big purchases sooner: A car, a vacation, or maybe even a home. A high-interest savings account where you can deposit these funds is a great way to watch your savings grow. Over time, compound interest will work its magic, helping your savings to increase more significantly than you might expect.

A pre-authorized contribution (PAC) can be a great way to commit yourself to saving monthly. You can set them up to even come out before your pay cheque is deposited into your account so the budgeting is done for you. 

Track Your Spending

You can't manage what you don't measure. By keeping a close eye on where your money goes each month, you'll likely uncover hidden opportunities to save. Use a simple spreadsheet or a budgeting app to track your expenses. You might be surprised to find that small, recurring purchases add up over time. Identifying these can help you make more informed decisions about where to cut back without significantly impacting your quality of life.

Embrace the Budget

Budgeting isn't about restriction; it's about empowerment. A well-planned budget can help you take control of your finances, ensuring you're covering your essential expenses and still finding room to save. Allocate your income into categories such as housing, utilities, groceries, and savings. Even on a limited income, prioritizing savings as a 'fixed' or consistent expense month-to-month can help you stay committed to your financial goals.

Cut Costs Creatively

Reducing expenses doesn't have to mean sacrificing everything you enjoy. It's about being clever and creative. For instance, instead of dining out, try mastering new recipes at home. Swap subscription services with friends or explore free entertainment options in your community. Small changes can lead to big savings over time, freeing up more money to tuck away for the future.

Take Advantage of Financial Tools and Resources

Financial institutions often offer tools and resources designed to help individuals manage their money more effectively. For example, automated savings plans can transfer a predetermined, and consistent, amount from your checking account to your savings account each month. You'll save without having to think about it. Additionally, look into any available financial education workshops or online resources that can provide you with more strategies for saving on a tight budget.

If your number one financial goal is to purchase a home, you can use an FHSA or RRSP account for saving. When you are ready to purchase your home, take advantage of the government’s first-time homeowner programs, like the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) or Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).

Set Realistic Goals

Finally, set achievable savings goals. Whether it's building an emergency fund, saving for a vacation, or simply having a financial cushion, having a clear objective can keep you motivated. Break your main goal into smaller, manageable milestones and celebrate your progress along the way. This positive reinforcement can make the saving process feel more rewarding and less like a chore.


Saving money on a limited income is certainly challenging, but it's far from impossible. By adopting a strategic approach to budgeting, spending, and saving, you can gradually build a financial safety net that supports your long-term goals and dreams. Remember, the key to successful saving is consistency, creativity, and commitment. 

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