5 Things To Do Now If You Have No Savings

Life savings ready to to be buried in the back yard.
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Starting from scratch may feel overwhelming, but just like anything else, if you break your savings goals into achievable steps and actions, you may surprise yourself as to just how quickly you start building your savings account. The good news is that all you have to do to encourage your wealth-building instincts is to know that any amount of money saved is eventually money earned. 

Where To Start When You Have No Savings

Whether you are looking to improve your financial position by beginning to invest in the stock market or even just starting a retirement savings plan, the first moves you need to make may be easier than you think. Here are five things to try now if you have no savings.

  1. Begin building your budget.
  2. Start your emergency savings.
  3. Cut all nonessential expenses.
  4. Pay off your debts.
  5. Set long-term financial goals.

1. Begin Building Your Budget

Building your budget is essentially just taking steps to better manage your money: assessing how much you are spending in outgoing funds and how much of your income you are saving. Budgeting helps you prioritize your spending so you have enough money to cover your monthly living expenses and more.

You could start a spending file or even budget out your income into percentages allocated for different expenses. For example, the 70/20/10 Budget Rule Works by allotting 70% of your income for monthly bills and everyday spending such as groceries or utility bills, then 20% goes to saving and investing and 10% goes to debt repayment.

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2. Start an Emergency Savings Account

Unexpected expenses come out of nowhere, making them quite difficult to plan around. However, when you set aside money for when potential financial shocks occur, those emergencies tend to impact your overall financial situation less. An emergency fund is an easily accessible cash reserve you have set up in case of medical bills, home repairs, car maintenance, school expenses or other issues outside your typical monthly budget. 

A good step to take when building an emergency savings account is to make it separate from your day-to-day checking account — and don’t touch it for anything short of an emergency.

3. Cut All Nonessential Expenses

Unnecessary or discretionary spending is all the money you spend on things that you can, in fact, live without. When you are assessing your finances and analyzing your budget, look for where you can slice your spending to the bone. Here are some areas to consider:

  • How often you dine out versus eating at home
  • Unused subscriptions you have on autopay
  • Buying brand-name grocery items instead of generic
  • Alcohol, coffee or tobacco habits
  • Hobbies or other entertainment-related expenses
  • Money spent on vacationing or travel expenses
Make Your Money Work for You

You don’t have to cut every fun expense out of your life — saving money shouldn’t make you miserable. Just trim it back as much as possible and stick to your budget.

4. Pay Off Your Debts

With rising interest rates and the overall pricing of goods and services, debt can stack up in sneaky ways. One of the most common ways to go into debt is with credit cards. Getting out of it can be tricky, but it is doable.

Here are two ways to approach paying off your credit card debt:

  • Debt snowball: You pay off your smallest credit card balance first, then pay the next largest after that until have paid them all.
  • Debt avalanche: You pay off the highest interest debt first, regardless of its size, then work your way down.

It can be beneficial to use the avalanche method and pay off the card with the highest interest first, as it will save you money in the long run — you’ll be paying less in interest overall. Whichever method you choose, though, make sure you continue making the minimum payments on your other debts to avoid late fees and negative marks on your credit report.

Make Your Money Work for You

5. Set Long-Term Financial Goals

The benefit of setting your long-term financial goals is to create a better financial outlook for your future. Not only will setting and achieving financial goals improve your lifestyle, but it also becomes a domino effect of other financial improvements.

For example, starting an emergency fund you can access for the unexpected keeps you from having to go into credit card debt, which improves your credit score, which helps you secure a loan for a new home. Whether it’s retirement or just wanting a nest egg, building savings now will aid you in all your upcoming endeavors.

Final Take To GO: The Importance of Saving

To be frank, no matter if you are planning for your future or just want to be prepared for the unexpected, the benefits of saving money are too many to add up. However, what you do want to add up is the amount in your account.

Consider some way to start setting some money aside, such as opening a high-yield savings account, retirement plan or just an emergency fund.


  • Is it normal to have no savings?
    • Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, so yes, it can be considered normal to have no savings. However, having some savings stashed away – at least for emergencies – is always a good thing.
    • It can be hard to start, let alone maintain, a savings account. However, there are things you can do to begin saving money, such as creating a budget for yourself, assessing your current financial situation, cutting out all unnecessary spending and paying down your debts.
  • Do most people have no savings?
    • While many people have no savings, most Americans do have at least a little tucked away. The median household savings in the U.S. is $5,300, as reported by Zippia, but 42% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved.
  • What percent of people have no savings?
    • It is estimated that nearly 10% of Americans have no savings at all, and nearly half of Americans are saving less than they have in the last few years.
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Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

Make Your Money Work for You

About the Author

Caitlyn Moorhead has written content for a variety of businesses and publications. After graduating from Central Michigan University cum laude, she moved to New York City where she wrote columns, articles and plays for several years before relocating to Austin, Texas in the fall of 2020.
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