Financial Empowerment for Low-Income Earners: Ella's Guide

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Right now, my income situation is sort of like, man, you know I'm not struggling or anything, and I'm not planning on getting one of those real jobs, God forbid. But just to be real, I am not raking in the dough right now. I am making enough to survive, but only just. And if I want to continue what I'm doing right now, I have to be extremely cautious with my money.

I have to manage my low income in a way that I do not have to dip into savings and start to see my account decrease. So, in this article, I want to show you exactly how I manage my money. I want to show you how I'm able to make ends meet despite not making tons of money. And I hope that showing my financial strategy can help low-income earners out there create a more sustainable plan where they don't have to take out debt and you're not living paycheck to paycheck.

Key Takeaways 
  1. Simplify Banking: Use a single no-fee bank for checking, savings, and investments.
  2. Account Breakdown: Checking for daily expenses, savings for emergencies, and investment for growth.
  3. Credit Card Strategy: Use for convenience and cash back, always pay off the balance in full.
  4. Budgeting for Sustainability: Track expenses, align spending with income, cut wasteful expenses.
  5. Getting Paid: Prioritize saving, clear credit card balances, allocate for non-credit expenses.

My Income Breakdown

I want to start by telling you about my income situation. Now I'm sure at some point you're reading this, you've wondered how much Ella Gustine makes. Well, income by blogging and youtube  is sort of like a roller coaster ride where you have your good months and you have your bad months. There's a learning curve where you're trying to figure out different streams of revenue. I got my first sponsor a few posts ago, that was nice. And I'm sorry if it annoys some of you, but just to be completely Frank, you cannot make it off of AdSense alone. So, if you want to see a happy Ella Gustine, you're gonna have to accept that you're gonna see that now and then.

But if you average out how much I've made over six months, it is about twenty-five hundred dollars a month after taxes. And although I have this low income, I just want to make it clear that I'm not relying on that income. I also have about sixty thousand dollars in investments and fifteen thousand dollars in savings. I've been doing this for almost a year now, and I've been able to pay my bills all with blogging and YouTube income alone. I have the savings, but I have not used it since I quit my job about a year ago. So, I do have a low income, but I'm not living paycheck to paycheck. My income is very variable, so I have that just in case.

Organizing Money: Ella's Simple Approach

So now that I've talked about my income, I want to tell you exactly how I organize my money.

The Cornerstone to managing your money on a low income is making sure you properly organize it in a bank, and I believe in keeping this as simple as possible. So, I'm going to walk you through exactly how I organize my money.

Single Non-Fee Bank for Simplicity:
The first thing I do is I put all my money in a single non-fee Bank. I prefer just to have one single bank because I think that when you have more than one, it just makes things a little bit more complicated. It's very important to have a no-fee Bank; this is 2023, and a bank should never be charging you if you have money in the bank. So, I use Charles Schwab, and I have my checking, my savings, and my investments all in that one single location.

Read Also:- How to Pay off Debt on Small Income 

Account Breakdown

Checking Account: Managing Daily Expenses:
The second thing is I have a checking, a savings, and an investment account. Now I know this is extremely obvious, but sometimes it's just good to hear obvious things out loud. So, I want to break down each account and how I view and how I treat each account.

Savings Account: The Emergency Fund:
My first account is the checking account, and this is my spending money. I try to keep this account as low as possible and it just covers my expenses. And I try to make it never go over two thousand dollars.

Investment Account: Long-Term Growth:
Now the second account is my savings account, and this is my emergency money. This is money in case an emergency comes up and I don't have enough in my checking account to cover it. As I said, I never like to keep too much money in my checking account because then I'll just start to spend more because I'll confuse saving money for spending money. And so, instead, I put more money in my savings account and do the following things:
  1.  Every time I get paid, I put a specific amount of money in my savings account.
  2. If my checking account has too much money, I move it over to savings.
And I find it so important to have these two separate accounts because your checking account should kind of just be stable all the time where you spend money and then you get paid again and it comes back up. But your savings account should always be increasing.

Credit Card Strategy: Monthly Payments and Cash Back:
And my third and final account is my investment account, and this is my long-term growing money. This is money that I plan to hold on to for a very long time, and I act like I don't even have it. If I need to take out money, I take it from my savings, not my investments. And those are my three different accounts.

Strategic Use of Credit Cards:
Now, the third part of my organization plan is I have a credit card that I put all my expenses on. Now, this is the most controversial part of my organization plan. Most people cannot handle a credit card and pay off the balance in full every single month. If you're one of those people, instead just use a cash or debit card. But the reason I use the credit card is for two reasons:
  1. I can pay the bills just once a month
  2. I get cash back using my card.
I like to do this because I can see that lump sum of how much I spend each month and just pay it in full once a month. But as I said, most people cannot handle credit cards, and if you cannot handle a credit card, then you should not get a credit card. But that is my organization plan.

I just make sure that every single dollar and every single penny has a home and a purpose. One of the biggest takeaways is that I never keep my checking account too high. Because if I keep it too high and I start having this extra money, then I'll start to spend more. Instead, I believe when my checking gets too high, to put it in my savings account so I see my savings grow quicker. And if an emergency comes up, I have more money. I think it's much better to remove money from savings than just to keep it in check and start to spend more money.

Read Also:- Make This Investment and Enjoy Your Future 

Budgeting for Sustainability

Now that I have shown you how I organize my money, I want to show you exactly how I budget my money.

The Importance of Tracking Expenses:
So now that I showed you exactly how I organize my money because I'm on a low income, I have to have a budget. I have to know exactly where my money is going and I have to make sure that I'm not spending more money than I'm making, or at least I'm not overspending in different areas. So now I want to walk you through exactly how I create a budget.

Tracking Expenses: The First Step:
The first step is to track all your expenses. The first thing I do when I create a budget is track all my expenses. I just have a simple spreadsheet and I write down every single expense that I have so that I know exactly where my money is going. It's important to do this because before you're able to lower your expenses, you first have to see how much money you're spending, and exactly where your money is going. And if you want a free copy of this spreadsheet, click the link in my description.

Ensuring Sustainable Spending Habits:
The second step in creating a budget is to see if your spending is sustainable. Once you see where your money is going because you tracked all your expenses, you now need to see if this type of lifestyle is sustainable for you. And to do that, you simply need to see if you're spending more than you're making. This can be hard and sometimes impossible to do on a low income, but you should never be spending more than you're making if you can help it. So, for example, as I said, I make about twenty-five hundred dollars a month and this month I spent 2190 dollars. This is sustainable because, at the end of the month, I have 310 dollars left over. You should always strive for this. You shouldn't spend more than you're making if you can help it. However, if your budget is not sustainable, then you should move on to the third step and examine your expenses.

Examining Expenses: Finding Wasteful Spending:
So, if your budget is not sustainable and you're spending more than you're making, you need to start examining your expenses. And to do this, you first need to find wasteful spending. Wasteful spending is money that you're spending that isn't providing you much value. This could be consumer spending convenience spending or unnecessary subscriptions. So, go through your spending and see if there's any of this wasteful spending and cut it out.

Identifying and Minimizing Unnecessary Expenses:
The next expense that you should focus on is unnecessary spending. And these are expenses that are nice to have but you could easily live without them. And this could be too many subscriptions, eating out too much, or paying for things you don't use. If you're on a low income, you should be limiting this type of spending.

Exploring Opportunities for Cost Reduction:
And the third thing to look for is to see if anything can be lowered. Now, certain things, if you shop around, they can be lowered. For example, car insurance, cell phone bills, or rent. If you take the time and just shop around to see if you can find better deals, you can save money for the same thing. For example, a couple of months ago, I switched insurance companies and I ended up saving 41 a month for the same insurance. There are better deals out there if you take the time to find them. But this is how I budget. The key to a successful budget is to make sure you're not spending more than you're making. It's on a low income. This isn't always possible, but the least you can do is try to find ways to lower your budget.

Read Also:- 6 Thing Not to do With Your Money Again

Getting Paid: Ella's Tactical Approach

So now that we've talked about this, I want to talk about what I do when I get paid.

Pay Yourself First: Growing the Savings Account:
Alright, so as I said, I roughly make about twenty-five hundred dollars a month after taxes, and I get paid once a month. So now I want to show you exactly what I do when I get paid.

Let me just begin by saying that money goes straight into my checking account. And so once it gets there, I need to start being extremely strategic with how I use it.

Clearing Credit Card Balances:
The first thing I do is pay myself first. So because I tracked my spending and created a sustainable budget, I know that I make roughly twenty-five hundred dollars a month and I spend roughly twenty-two hundred dollars a month. So that leaves me with 300 left over. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna pay myself first and put that three hundred dollars in a savings account, leaving twenty-two hundred dollars in my checking account. Maybe I'll have to spend a little bit more and withdraw that amount, but by putting it in my savings account, I'm attempting to grow my savings account over time.

Handling Non-Credit Card Expenses:
The second thing I do when I get paid is pay off my credit card balance. So the first bill that I pay every month is my credit card, and as I said, this can be controversial. If you cannot handle paying off the balance in full every month, do not get a credit card and find a different way to do it. But I put all my expenses, all the expenses that I can on my credit card, and these are things like groceries, insurance, gas bills, eating out, subscription, and other expenses, and this is usually one thousand dollars a month. So the second I get paid, I immediately, the first thing I do is I pay off my credit card and bring the balance back down to zero. And that leaves me twelve hundred dollars left in my checking account.

Ensuring a Buffer in the Checking Account:
And finally, the third thing I do when I get paid is pay the non-credit card expenses. Now there are certain expenses that I cannot put on my credit card, so normally I just set them up to auto-pay and they directly take out of my checking account. And these are expenses like my rent for seven hundred dollars, my utilities for one hundred dollars, because I'm self-employed, and my health insurance for two hundred dollars. And so now I have two hundred dollars left in my checking account. I never keep my checking account at zero, but I always make sure that after I pay all my bills and all my expenses, there's still a little bit left in my checking account until I get paid again. And if the checking account gets too high, then I start to move some over to savings. But this is what I do when I get paid. I just pay all my bills and keep it as simple as I possibly can so I don't overlook anything.


As we wrap up, Ella's journey illuminates the path to financial triumph, proving that even on a modest income, you can steer towards stability and prosperity. Her practical wisdom is a torchbearer for content creators navigating the realm of limited earnings.

But hold on, we're not done just yet! Your voice matters too! Share your experiences and insights in the comments below. And for a steady stream of empowering advice, subcribe to our Newsletter  using the subscription box below.

Keep coming back, because we're just getting started on this incredible financial adventure. Together, we're unstoppable! 
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