How to Make Money

How I Stopped Being Broke and Saved My First $1,000 (A Month-by-Month Guide)

Updated December 3, 2016
by Kyle Taylor

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. By the time the month is over, there’s nothing left to save.

So 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 or checking account and deposit $5. Heck, roll your quarters if you have to.

There are a bunch of great online banks, but one of my favorites is Aspiration because it offers an interest rate that is around 100x what a normal bank offers, plus there are no monthly fees.

I know it doesn’t seem worth it to start small, 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, check out Swagbucks. They will actually pay you to watch videos! There are hundreds of them — cooking videos, sports replays, news and more. Plus, they give you $5 just for signing up!

This works because the videos are sponsored by brands who need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one of those ads, Swagbucks credits your account with cash. Here’s a link to sign up.

Need a different idea?

Another easy way to earn $15 is with Paribus. It’s a tool that searches your emails for companies that owe you money.

It’s free to sign up for Paribus and once you do, they will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Amazon, Target, or one of the other 16 retailers listed on their website, it will track the item’s price and issue you a refund anytime there’s a price drop!

You don’t have to do anything!

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 it.

For this month, I just want you to try and put away $35 in the account.

I’ve had good success making extra money with these two market research companies: Vip Voice & Harris Poll. These panels will pay you for your opinions on politics, movies, and other subjects. If you sign up for both, you should easily make an extra $35/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.

Need a different idea?

Another great way to earn extra money is with Microsoft Rewards. They will actually reward you for making searches on Bing and for browsing the web. The rewards come via gift cards and 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…

There are also a ton of different ways to make extra money on this site, so start poking around the archives.

Congrats! You’ve saved your first $55. That’s something to be proud of!

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 Bookscouter and for everything else we use letgo. Both sites are free and it takes about 30 seconds to sell your stuff.

– 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 it 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 I worked for. (None of them will charge you money to sign up. 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 favorites are the restaurant mystery shops — you get a free meal and you get paid! :)

Months 5 – 12

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

Here are some ideas on how to make your extra $100/month:

How to Make $750/Month Selling Used Books

Get Paid $50 to Write a Guest Post

What’s in Your Fridge? Get Paid to Share…

How to Make an Extra $50/Week Working for

How to Get Paid $200/Month Testing Websites

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 two, you’ve saved nearly $1,000. At this point, my suggestion would be to open an investment account. Stash happens to be my favorite because they give you a free $5 when you sign up, but anywhere will do.

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

You can do this. End the cycle today.

Good luck Penny Hoarders!

Disclosure: We appreciate you letting us include affiliate links in this post. It helps keep the beer fridge stocked in the Penny Hoarder break room.

by Kyle Taylor
Kyle is the founder of

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