Whatever your reason for saving money — whether you are hoping to buy a home, start an emergency fund or get a new pair of shoes — you need a plan. It can be hard to sacrifice now in order to spend later. Often that invitation to have dinner out with friends is so tempting and the time when you can buy a house so distant, you go with the immediate gratification. Here are some ways to trick yourself into saving more.
Take It Out of Your Hands
Take away the choice by making it automatic. Use direct deposit so you never even see the money before it goes into savings. Arrange it with your employer so that a portion of your paycheck goes directly into a savings account.
You can also have your bank transfer some money each week or month into a savings account. Even if it’s a small amount, say $25 a week, that will add up to $1,300 a year. Plus, you will be less likely to notice that small amount rather than a lump sum.
Make It a Game
Compete with a sibling, friend or spouse to see who can cut back more. Even if you are just competing against yourself, set goals or have levels you are trying to reach. Celebrate victories with non-monetary rewards. For example, after you reach $250 in savings, you will take a Saturday off from errands and enjoy a day in the park.
Once you’ve paid off a bill, keep writing those checks … to yourself. Congratulations on paying off that credit card, student loan or other debt! But instead of letting that additional money be absorbed back into your everyday budget, earmark it for saving. You didn’t have that money before, so you won’t miss it.
Save the Scraps
Every time you have change (or dollar bills or fives or tens) collect them in a jar as savings. When you get to a certain amount (like $50 or $100) deposit this ‘extra money’ into a savings account.
Also, you can round up from purchases. So if you spend $12.50 on lunch, round up to $15 and put the extra money in your savings account. Some banks will even do that for you.
Add the Extra
Use bonuses and unexpected money to bolster your savings. Maybe you go out to dinner and you’ve budgeted $50, but your friend offers to treat. Say thank you and put that $50 into your savings.
If you get a bonus at work, a tax refund or any monetary gifts for holidays or birthdays, save them. Perhaps give yourself a small treat, but use most of it to reach your savings goal.