How to Save $10K in a Year Even if You’re Not Rich

A portrait of a middle class woman is shown in a puzzle piece of a $100 bill.
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Saving $10,000 in one year may seem like a daunting challenge. It might feel impossible to save that much money. But imagine how beneficial it could be!

You wouldn’t have to worry about not having enough money in case of an emergency. You could take that luxurious vacation you’ve been dreaming about. You’d be so much closer to reaching your biggest financial goals, like finally paying off your student loan debt.

With the right game plan and discipline, saving $10,000 in a year is possible. We’ll walk you through how to make it happen.

A Realistic Approach to Saving $10K in One Year

Ten thousand dollars is a big number to think about, so let’s break it down into more digestible chunks.

If you want to save $10,000 in a year, you’ll need to save $833.33 each month.

That’s still a pretty big number to work with, so let’s break it down even further. You’d need to save $192.31 each week or $27.40 every day to reach your $10,000 savings goal.

Here’s another way to look at it: If you get paid every two weeks, you’d need to put aside $384.62 each time you get paid.

If you’re going after this savings goal with a spouse or partner, you can divide those amounts by two. You’d each need to save $416.67 each month, $192.31 biweekly, $96.15 weekly or $13.70 each day to save $10,000 in a year.

Keep Your ‘Why’ In Mind

Before you go about attempting this saving goal, it’s important to know the reason why you want to save $10,000 in a year.

Reflecting on why you want to save $10,000 will help you keep pushing when you want to stop being disciplined and just blow all your money on a shopping spree.

An extra $10,000 in your bank account can help blaze your path to financial freedom. Maybe your emergency fund is low, and you want a bigger financial cushion to be able to fall back on. Or maybe you want to use the money to pay off credit card debt or student loans so you can be debt free.

Perhaps you need seed money to start a business, or you want to quit your job and travel around the world. This pot of savings could help you achieve financial independence.

Ten thousand dollars can also go toward a down payment for a home, a fabulous wedding or a new car. You can use it to complete a big home improvement project.

If you’re expanding your family, you could use that cash for baby expenses — or fertility or adoption costs. Or if you already have kids, $10,000 could go toward their college fund and future financial security.

Maybe you want to add an extra $10,000 to your investment or retirement accounts. Really, the options are endless.

What’s important is that you have a specific reason why you want to save $10,000 in a year, and that you reflect on that reason throughout your savings journey.

16 Ways to Save $10,000 in a Year

Now that you understand how to break up this financial goal and you have a firm reason for why you’re saving in the first place, it’s time to dig into all the steps that’ll help you save $10,000 in a year.

1. Use a Budget

To save $10,000 in a year, first you need full awareness of how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out.

Now is the perfect time to start a budget, if you don’t already have one. After you total up your monthly income, subtract all your monthly bills and expenses. Hopefully, you’re left with a positive number and not a negative one. That means you already have room in your monthly budget for saving money without taking any extra action.

However, if that number is low (or is negative) that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to meet your savings goal. The tips in this list will help you find ways to cut expenses, spend less and earn more, so you’ll have more money available to save.

Pro Tip

Coupling a zero-based budget with the cash envelope method can prevent overspending and keep you on track to save $10,000.

2. Pay Yourself First

Too often, we save money by putting aside whatever cash we have left over at the end of the month or pay period. To save $10,000, you have to prioritize it up front and pay yourself first.

Treat your savings mission like an important monthly bill you need to pay. At the beginning of the month or whenever you get paid, transfer money into your savings account before you have a chance to accidentally spend money. Better yet, set up an automated transfer so you don’t have to even think about it.

Remember, the goal is to be able to deposit $833.33 into your savings account each month, but if you don’t have room to do that with your current financial situation, don’t worry. Our tips on slashing your spending and boosting your income can help.

3. Use a Separate High-Interest Savings Account

To avoid tapping into your rainy day fund and derailing your goal, it’s best to put your money in a separate savings account that you don’t regularly access.

A high-yield savings account is an account where you’ll earn compound interest on the money you save — at a higher rate than regular savings accounts or checking accounts.

Other options to earn interest on your savings are opening a money market account or a certificate of deposit (CD) for a 12-month period.

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4. Adjust Your Tax Withholdings

If you typically get a large tax refund when you file your annual tax return, you’re withholding an excess of money from your paychecks. Some people refer to this as giving the government an interest-free loan.

By adjusting your tax withholdings, you can increase the amount of money in your paychecks — though you’ll no longer see those big tax refunds. Instead, you’ll be able to save that extra money each pay period to go toward your $10,000 goal.

5. Track Your Spending

As you’re on this financial journey, it’s important to track your spending on a daily or weekly basis. Don’t wait until the end of the month to look at your checking account and discover you’re overspending.

By tracking your spending with a budgeting app, a budget binder or a budget calendar, you will always be on top of where your money is going.

6. Reduce Your Biggest Expenses

Cutting back on your biggest living expenses can have a significant impact on your savings goal. Housing, transportation and food typically make up the bulk of monthly expenses for the average household.

Save Money on Housing

Downsizing or moving to a cheaper place is a drastic move, but big moves produce big results. If you want to cut down on housing costs without changing your current address, think about taking in a roommate. Or use a website like Neighbor to make some passive income on your extra space — whether it’s a spare room, an empty garage or a parking space.

Save Money on Transportation

Going from a two-car family to a one-car family can save you a few hundred dollars each month. Refinancing your car payment or trading in your set of wheels for a less expensive ride can also save you a significant amount of money.

You can also save money on transportation by doing your own car maintenance and using these tips to save on gas.

And don’t forget about your car insurance. Instead of wasting your time hopping around to different insurance companies looking for a better deal, you can use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once. It could save you up to $610 a year.

Save Money on Food

Yes, you’ve got to eat, but chances are you could adjust your spending habits around food.

If you eat out a lot, start meal planning so you have food available when you don’t feel like cooking. Instead of going to restaurants with friends, host potlucks at your house. Look up copycat recipes to make similar dishes to the ones from your favorite restaurants.

There are oodles of ways you can save money on groceries. Using coupons and cashback apps like Upside, taking advantage of sales, buying in bulk, buying generic brands instead of name brand food and sticking to a list are a few options to try.

7. Lower Other Recurring Bills

Reducing additional recurring bills will help you funnel money toward savings. Here’s how you can save in everyday life on things like utilities, cell phone, cable, internet and gym membership.

Save Money on Utility Bills

Cut the costs of your energy bills by adjusting your thermostat, changing filters regularly and sealing drafty doors and windows. Taking shorter showers, using water-saving faucets and running the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can help lower your water bill.

See this story for more tips to save money on utilities.

Save Money on Cell Phone

No more paying over $100 for your cell phone bill. Switch to a discount cell phone carrier, like Tello or Mint Mobile, to save money.

Save Money on Cable

Cut the cord to eliminate costly cable bills. With certain streaming services, you don’t have to miss out on live TV or NFL games.

These free TV apps let you watch shows and movies at no cost. Or visit your local library to check out DVDs of your favorite films or television series.

Save Money on Internet Service

Switching to a lower-tiered plan is one way to cut costs on internet service, but maybe you don’t want to sacrifice your internet speed. Check out the deals competitors are offering and consider switching to a different internet provider to lower your internet bill. Sometimes just calling your current company and letting them know you plan to switch may sway them into offering you a nice discount.

Save Money on Gym Memberships

Gym memberships can get pricey — especially if you find you’re not going to the gym that often. Consider setting up a workout space at home or using free equipment at local parks to save money.

8. Find Free Ways to Entertain Yourself

Reduce your entertainment costs and fill up your free time with free things to do. Spend time outdoors. Attend free events or festivals in your city. Explore a part of town you don’t often visit. Host a movie marathon or karaoke night with your friends at home. There are plenty of things you can do without spending money.

9. Barter for Goods and Services

Rather than paying for things you want or need, consider bartering. For example, you can stop paying to get your grass cut and ask a neighbor to do it in exchange for free babysitting.

If you think creatively, you might be surprised at what you can barter. Go beyond your immediate social circle and arrange a bartering exchange with people on Nextdoor or a local Facebook neighborhood group.

10. Join a Buy Nothing Group

Buy Nothing Groups are another way to get free items you need or want — without having to engage in any kind of exchange. Everything is offered as a gift or charitable donation.

Craigslist and Nextdoor are other platforms where local people offer up free items to their neighbors.

Before buying something new, check if you can get it for free first. Sometimes you’ll find items in great condition.

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11. Make Saving Money Fun with a Savings Challenge

You can start saving money today by participating in one of these challenges:

  • No-Spend Challenge: Ban all extra spending and don’t buy anything for a month (or more) unless it is essential. Or you could choose to focus your spending freeze on a particular online purchases — like not buying any new makeup or video games for the next 90 days.
  • $5 Challenge: Anytime you receive cash back from a purchase, put any five dollar bills you receive into savings. If you tend to swipe your debit card rather than pay with cash, you could transfer $5 from your checking account to your savings account each time you use your debit card.
  • Pantry Challenge: Skip your regular grocery shopping trip and challenge yourself to making meals using only what is currently in your pantry, cupboards and freezer. You might have to get creative!

12. Save Any Financial Windfalls

On your journey to save $10,000 in a year, you ought to save any unexpected sums of cash that comes your way. If you get a bonus at work, a nice tax refund or $20 from a scratch-off lotto ticket, put that money right into your savings.

13. Enlist an Accountability Partner to Keep You on Track

Having an accountability partner — someone who knows your savings goal and your reason for saving $10K — can help you commit to spending less money. Choose a friend, family member or even an online buddy from The Penny Hoarder Community who will check in on your progress regularly and will send you words of encouragement so you’ll stay motivated.

14. Celebrate Your Wins

Saving $10,000 in a year is a big goal. You deserve to reward yourself as you make progress toward financial success.

Perhaps you want to celebrate your personal finance goal every month or whenever you reach a milestone, like when you’ve saved $2,500, then $5,000 and then $7,500.

Just make sure however you choose to celebrate doesn’t derail your goal of saving money. Having a glass of champagne or a spa day at home are nice treats that aren’t expensive.

15. Bring in Extra Income

Sometimes cutting costs isn’t enough to meet a savings goal. Making more money is another way to get you to the $10,000 mountaintop.

A combination of reducing expenses and making money will make this savings challenge much easier. Just think: Instead of needing to save $833.33 each month, you could plan to save only $400 and challenge yourself to earn an extra $433.33 each month.

Pick up Extra Hours at Work

If you work an hourly shift, ask your manager if you can be scheduled for more hours. Ask co-workers to call you to pick up their shifts on days when they’re unavailable to work.

If you’re a salaried employee, ask your manager about taking on more responsibilities for a pay bump.

Ask for a Raise

If you have a great track record at work, now might be a good time to ask your employer for a raise. Not sure how to start that conversation? Read our guide on how to ask for a raise.

Get a Better Paying Job

Sometimes the best opportunity to boost your salary is by getting a new job. Check out this story about a woman whose salary jumped 39% in a little over a year due to job hopping.

You can even use a job offer from another company to get your current employer to counteroffer with a higher salary.

Take on a Side Hustle

You can earn several hundred dollars a month picking up a side hustle in addition to your main source of employment. Scan this list of the best side gigs to find your next money-making endeavor.

Earn Passive Income

Passive income is money you make without having to put in much effort or time aside from what it initially takes to set up the income stream. You can literally earn money while you’re sleeping.

Check out these passive income ideas so you can earn supplemental income to go toward that $10K goal.

16. Sell Items Around the House

Another way to earn extra money is to sell unused items that are lying around at home. It could be anything from clothing and kids’ toys to sports equipment and furniture. These websites and apps are great places to sell things online so you don’t have to organize a garage sale.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are the answers to three popular questions that tend to come up when people consider saving $10,000 in a year.

How Much Money Do I Need to Save $10,000 a Year?

You don’t have to earn six figures to be able to save $10,000 in a year. You just need to spend $10,000 less than the income you take in.

If you break it down to a monthly basis, you need to have a surplus of $833.33 each month. From a weekly perspective, you need to save $192.31 a week. 

A combination of cutting expenses plus earning more money can really help you meet this savings goal.

How Can I Save $10,000 in 100 Days?

In order to save $10,000 in 100 days, you’ll need to save an average of $100 a day. That’s more than three times the savings effort of saving $10,000 in a year.

While it’s definitely more challenging, it’s not impossible to meet this goal. However, you’ll likely need to boost your income significantly while operating on a bare bones budget.

For inspiration, learn how The Penny Hoarder’s senior writer Robin Hartill was able to save $12,000 in 12 weeks to pay off debt.

What is the Fastest Way to Save $10,000?

The fastest way to reach your savings goals is to couple reducing expenses with earning more money. You’ll be able to save quickly if you can greatly reduce or eliminate your biggest expenses — for example, moving in with relatives to save on housing costs. 

If you’re able to significantly increase your salary by getting a big raise or starting a better paying job, you’ll be able to save up money fast as long as you don’t give into lifestyle inflation.

Nicole Dow is a former senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior writer Rachel Christian contributed.