How I Managed to Save Money While Making Only $0.10 an Hour


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

October 21, 2018

Yup. I once made 10 cents an hour at a full-time corporate job. If you’re interested in the details of this story, you can click on this link right here.

In this post, I’m going to be discussing how I managed to save money while making only $0.10 an hour.

Now, I didn’t save a great deal of money. But what I did manage to do was to stay afloat (even saving a little), despite the poverty-level income I was receiving from my day job.

It’s just a gentle reminder that no matter the circumstance we are in, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Let’s dig in.


The Equation for Huge Savings

To save money, there’s always a simple equation to follow. Viola!

This simple equation has two variables you can control. You can increase your income, and decrease your spending. That guarantees you huge savings.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

Let’s talk about my income first.


Boosting My Income

I wasn’t earning just 10 cents an hour. Outside of my corporate job, I was constantly looking for ways to earn more money.

I got paid a measly $20 a month from my corporate job. That’s less than $1 for every day of the month. How is it possible for someone to pay their rent, put food on the table, and pay for the commute to the office every day, on a pay check of less than $1 a day? Heck, that $20 a month couldn’t even cover the cost of my commute!

So, I didn’t have much of a choice. I kept my eyes peeled for any money-making loopholes. I took whatever opportunities came my way, which I could squeeze within the limited time I had outside of my corporate job.

I tutored students at least 3 to 4 times a week, and brought in $20-$25 an hour.

I bought and sold concert tickets, cards and other collectibles online. I usually made anywhere between $10 to $30 per item. My single greatest haul made me $250 in a matter of days.

I did online surveys that brought in a couple of dollars per survey. I even personally attended marketing pitches (disguised as surveys) held by insurance companies, making me $10 an hour.

I auctioned off the clutter that was lying around in my room at home, and made anywhere between $10 to $50 for each item that I sold.

Here’s what my average monthly income looked like.

During my good months, I was able to make a little more than $1,500. During my dry spells, I made only a little more than $1,000. But since I kept my monthly expenses to less than $1,000 a month, I stayed afloat.

My side hustles were just side hustles. They weren’t businesses that were sustainable over long periods of time. They were just quick, easy ways to make a little bit of money. I never made a great deal of money from any of them, but the most important thing is that I didn’t starve to death.

Now, let’s talk about my expenses.


Brutally Slashing My Expenses

I always kept my expenses low. Even on my good months. That’s because I never knew how much money I would make the following month. Maybe the stuff I had lying around at home wouldn’t sell. Or maybe there weren’t any good deals online that I could flip for profit. Everything was always uncertain, and I was more than a little paranoid.

So, good month or bad, my expenses were always, always, low. I survived on less than $1,000 a month.

How does one spend less than $1,000 a month? What about rent? Food? Transport? Entertainment? Other bills?

In times like this, you spend only on whatever is absolutely essential. That’s rent, food, transport, phone bills, for example. And nope, a penthouse suite and a $300 Michelin-starred meal aren’t necessities.

I stopped dining in restaurants. I stopped taking Uber or cabs. I stopped going for concerts. I stopped hitting the pubs and going drinking. I stopped shopping. I cancelled my gym membership.

I stopped doing a lot of things, but I understood the sacrifice I had to make. At the same time, I learnt a lot as well. I knew all the best bargains, and relished the thrill of getting one. I walked home instead of transferring between buses just to save a few cents, but that’s exercise, right? I sourced for free entertainment. A walk in the park. Chilling by the beach.

Who knew free entertainment could be as awesome as a $200 night at a club?

While everyone else around me thought I would die from a lack of fun and from slashing my budget to a minimum, I held my ground and came out even stronger.

Right now, even though I’m earning more money, I still keep my expenses around $1,000 a month.

Guess what? Reducing your expenses isn’t as difficult as everyone thinks it is. You just have to give yourself time to get used to it. And you also have to be grateful for the things you have, not the things that you don’t.


And That’s How I Saved Money When Making Only $0.10 an Hour.

As you can probably tell, I didn’t save a great deal of money. A couple hundred dollars this month. Next month, half a grand.

Yeah, it’s not much compared to what I’m saving now.

But I made the most of what I had, in the circumstances that I was in. And I’m proud of that.

You’re not happy with your crappy income? Go out there and find money-making opportunities. You don’t have to do something huge like start a business or patent a drug that cures cancer. You just need to find quick, straight-forward means of earning yourself a little bit of cash. It could be as simple as tutoring, flipping goods for profit or doing surveys online.

You’re not satisfied with your savings even though your income is decent? Slash your expenses. Brutally. Find ways to downsize. Do you really need a 3-bedroom apartment? Do you really need that luxury car? Or that new suit every month? Or that new iPhone? Let me answer that for you – You don’t need all that stuff. And after you get the hang of living on a tight budget, you’d probably realise that you’re happier than ever.

Increase your income. Cut your expenses.

Poof. Huge savings.




Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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