Saving money is way harder than spending it. Some people have a knack for keeping their savings accounts padded, but others struggle to put money away for the future. Of course, there are plenty of reasons why you may not be in a position to be putting away any money, but even for those who can, it can be tough to know where to start.
Luckily, there are a few strategies that most people can use to make saving much simpler and easier.
Here are some ways to trick yourself into saving money, even when you don’t consider yourself financially savvy.
Try automatically paying yourself first.
You probably have automatic payments set up for at least a few of your bills and expenses, so why not try the same method with your savings?
Investopedia recommended designating one or two separate accounts for your savings goals (e.g. an emergency fund, a vacation fund, etc.) and set up an automatic transfer to those accounts on payday. That way, you’re not tempted to spend spare cash and you can budget for your savings every month or week.
Make a habit of emptying your wallet at the end of the week.
No, this tip doesn’t mean you should spend everything in your wallet by Sunday. Rather, establish a weekly purge of the spare change floating around at the bottom of your purse or wallet.
Keep spare change in a large jar or bucket and before you know it, you’ll have enough to cash in for a tidy sum. If you’re even more ambitious, apply the same strategy to your paper money, too. Swear to stash any small bills that are still in your wallet by the end of the week and watch your savings account grow.
Pretend you didn’t get that raise.
If you’re lucky enough to score a raise or bonus at work, don’t immediately adjust your lifestyle to make use of all that extra dough. Instead, try budgeting as if your income hasn’t increased and put most of the additional cash into a savings account.
“A good rule of thumb for raises is to spend no more than 50% of whatever extra ends up in your paycheck after taxes,” Michael Kitces, CFP, partner and director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, told Men’s Health.
By sticking to your pre-raise budget, you can prevent accumulating more debt or higher expenses that will negate the positive impact that a bump in pay could have on your savings.
Keep budgeting for your loan payments … even after you’ve paid them off.
As The Balance suggested, one way to save money effortlessly is to pretend you’re not finished paying off a loan even after you send in your final payment. Instead of sending your standard payment to the loan company, transfer it to your savings account.
With this technique, the transferred money will already be accounted for in your budget and you’ll be able to take advantage of the financial discipline you’ve built by finally paying off that car or student loan.
Save your windfalls.
An easy way to supplement your savings account is to squirrel away any unexpected income or windfalls.
For example, instead of spending that $20 you found in the pocket of your winter coat or the $100 you won from a scratch-off ticket, Chime Bank recommends holding off on splurges and lifestyle upgrades in favor of saving that extra cash.
Your budget won’t be impacted since you didn’t expect to have that money anyway, but your savings account will thank you.
Use an app to effortlessly save.
If you have a smartphone, you already have a powerful tool in your money-saving arsenal. There is a whole range of apps designed help you automate or simplify your savings.
Digit identifies patterns in your spending and automatically transfers small amounts of money you won’t miss into a special savings account. Bank of America actually has its own program called Keep the Changethat rounds debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and stows the change in your savings account. If investing intrigues you, Acorn also rounds up your purchases but instead, it invests the difference for you.
Put barriers between you and your savings.
Although it may be tempting to dip into your savings when shopping or when you’re a few bucks short of an unnecessary purchase, placing a few barriers between you and your money might keep you from making impulsive spending decisions.
For example, you might consider removing your bank’s mobile app from your phone to keep you from easily transferring money to your checking account. You might also want to look into using certificates of deposit to stow your savings, as they provide higher interest returns and can’t be accessed early without paying a penalty.
Save your cash back rewards.
Does your credit card give you cash back on your purchases? If it does, you could be using that extra dough to bulk up your savings account.
When you earn cash back on your credit cards, don’t immediately redeem the sum for travel perks or a statement credit. Instead, transfer it straight to your savings.
Wait a week before making any major purchases.
If you find yourself struggling to save because you’re constantly splurging, try instituting a mandatory waiting period before whipping out your credit card.
As the USAA advised, pausing before a purchase can help you get over the initial urge to buy an item and give you the time to thoughtfully consider whether the purchase is a wise one. If a week feels too long to wait, try sleeping on it. You might wake up with a new perspective on that full shopping cart.
Don’t let shopping sites save your credit card information.
It’s so easy to shop online, especially when a shopping site has filled in all of your card details for you. Money Crashers warned that saving your credit card information on your favorite retailers’ sites can make online shopping perilously hassle-free for would-be savers.
Preventing sites from storing your information means that you’ll have to physically get up, get your wallet, find your credit card, and manually enter your details if you want to buy something. Even this minor level of inconvenience might be enough to dissuade you from going through with an unnecessary purchase.