If there’s one thing I struggle with most when it comes to finances, it is saving money. Some people say it’s a lack of self-control, but when it comes to other areas of my finances (budgeting, paying off debt, limiting my spending), I like to think I practice a great amount of self-control control. I think – for me at least – it is more of my lack of attention for the future and my focus on my current needs that keeps me from saving money. This is probably why I am doing well budgeting my current paychecks for my current needs, and why I am doing well paying off debt – because these are all needs I have right now. But saving money is important and it serves a number of different needs – emergency cash, a vacation fund, retirement funds, college tuition, etc. We know saving is important, but it’s still hard to do something for the future when your present needs so much attention – and funding.
I think saving money is so difficult because it feels like such a sacrifice. But it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of ways to trick yourself into saving money – and by trick yourself, I mean make it seem like less of a sacrifice or none at all.
Pretend Like it Was Never There in the First Place
You can’t miss what you never had, right? So pretend like you never had that money. One of the challenging things about saving money comes when you think about what you could be doing with that money instead. So how do you pretend like you never had it? Have it automatically taken out of each paycheck and put into a separate account. That way, you won’t have to physically take the money out of your account and you won’t see your balance drop. Honestly, this is probably the only way I am able to save for retirement.
I have my payroll take out a percentage of my paycheck pre-tax for my retirement and, honestly, this is probably the only way I am able to save for retirement. So trust me when I say it works!
Keep the Change
One of the banks I use actually has a program called “Keep the Change” in which it rounds up to the dollar when I swipe my debit card and puts the extra change into my savings account automatically. So, for example, if my total was $5.50, it would charge me $6.00 and put the extra 50 cents into my savings account. If your bank has a program like this, I would recommend using it.
You can also do it on your own. Simply stop digging for exact change. Instead, pay the dollar amount just above the total and keep the change that is given back to you. Save it in a jar to deposit later. For example, if you go to the grocery store and the total is $55.67, pay $56.00 and throw the 33 cents into your change jar. Once your jar is full, deposit it into your savings. Do not use your change!
Save What Could Have Been
Whenever you do something that keeps you from spending, put what you would have spent into your savings account. For example, if you usually buy a $5 cup of coffee every day and one day you make your coffee at home, take that $5 you would have spent that day and put it into your savings account instead. If you usually spend $10 on lunch and you make your lunch one day, put that $10 into your savings account instead.
This trick is especially effective when you have a no-spend week. If you’re able to save this money, take all the money you would have spent that week and save it instead.
Any search for “saving money” on Pinterest will yield a number of money saving challenges. Pick which one works best for you. One of my favorites is the “$5 Bill Challenge” in which you save every $5 bill you receive. Another great one is to simply save $20 every week for a grand total of $1,040 at the end of the year. If both of those seem like too much, scale it down to fit your money situation. Maybe you save every $1 bill you receive, or every quarter. Or, maybe you save $10 each week, or $5. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and so is their savings goal.
Save Your Budget Leftovers
Whenever I had extra money left over in my budget categories, I felt like I had just hit the jackpot. Before, I would just add it to my fun money. Now that I am more serious about paying off debt and saving money, I put it towards those instead. Let’s say you budget $100 for your electric bill and this month it’s only $85. Now you have $15 leftover in that budget category. You already had that money going towards something, so why not put it into your savings? If it was already planned on being used, you should still put it to use.
What are some tricks you’ve used to help you with saving money?