A Month-by-Month Guide to Saving $1,000 and Ending the Paycheck to Paycheck Lifestyle

Monthly plan to avoid living paycheck to paycheck
A photo of a hand piling or stacking coins on a calendar implying saving or investing
Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

For a lot of people, just the thought of saving money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and barely getting by is a joke.

The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Epidemic

In fact, a 2017 CareerBuilder survey of about 6,000 full-time workers found that 78% were living paycheck to paycheck (up from 75% the year before).

It’s not that working people don’t want to save; it’s just that too many of us are struggling to pay the rent and put gas in the car.

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

To help end the vicious paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, we put together this month-by-month guide to get you on track and potentially put $1,000 in your bank account.

These methods could help you get on better financial footing, no matter where you live.

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 Aspiration is one of my favorites because they offer an interest rate around 100 times what a normal bank offers — plus there are no monthly fees:

Starting small may not seem worth it, but getting started is an extremely important first step! Just trust us.

Month 2

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

An easy way to earn $15 is with Paribus — a free tool that searches your emails for companies that owe you money.

Once you sign up, the app scans your email archives for any receipts.

If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Best Buy, Target, Walmart or one of the other 20-plus retailers listed on its website, it tracks the item’s price and issues you a refund if there’s a price drop during the return period!

You don’t have to do anything.

Month 3

Your goal is to work up to saving $100 a month in your savings account. It seems lofty, but we’re going to help you.

For this month, try to put $35 in the account.

An easy way to do this is with these a market research company like Point Club or Opinion Outpost.

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 a 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 another idea?

The folks over at Shoptracker will pay you for your Amazon purchase history.

If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you can earn money each month contributing to research to help companies understand what people are buying online.

Download and connect Shoptracker to your Amazon account.

It’ll instantly send you a free $3 Visa gift card, plus another $3 for every month you keep it installed.

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

Month 4

Try selling some of your old stuff online. You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s 100% free to use.

But there are also apps for selling more specific stuff to people who might actually be looking for it. For instance, you could sell old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games, cell phones and iPods to Decluttr. Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout for an extra $5 on your trade.

Need another idea?

If you have a PC or laptop, this Nielsen panel will pay you $50 a year to keep its software on your computer and browse the web like you normally do. The software collects data and helps companies better understand our web and mobile usage — such as what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps and what types of sites and apps are popular (or not).

Month 5

All right, it’s time to try and put away $100. Do you have a spare room? Might as well use Airbnb to make some money by renting it out.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb. And there’s no reason you can’t be creative. We even found a guy that earns $1,380 a month renting out a backyard tent on Airbnb!

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

Need another idea?

You can try our list of 14 Companies giving away $1,795. These companies want you to try them out and will pay you to do so. Some of them are easier than others, but just check it out.

Or how about mystery shopping? Before our CEO Kyle Taylor became a blogger, he was a full-time mystery shopper. And he got pretty good at it — earning around $5,000 a month.

Here’s a list of the companies he 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.

We know a lot of people are already working two jobs, but mystery shopping can help you earn money and relax with your friends and family at the same time.

Keep an eye out for restaurant mystery shops; you’ll get a free meal and get paid!

Months 6 to 12

Continue saving $100 a 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 a month:

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 site.

Once you’ve reached year two, you’ve saved nearly $1,000. At this point, it might be a good idea make your money work for you by opening an investment account.

Stash is a nice app to start with because it gives you a $5 bonus to invest when you sign up through this link, though opening an account anywhere will do.

You can do this. End the cycle today.

Good luck Penny Hoarders!

Did this article help put money in your pocket?

Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.