You know you need to save money – but you really don’t want to right now. Even when you’re saving for a good goal, maybe even something fun like a vacation, immediate wants and needs sometimes come first. Here are five ways you can trick yourself into saving.
Keep a Change Jar
Change is heavy, so stop carrying it. Instead, keep a coin jar at home and make a daily deposit. The money doesn’t add up quickly, but you may find that after a few months there’s enough change for a lovely date night.
You can add pressure to save by making the jar communal. Share the coin-savings goal with a partner or roommates and use the money for an activity that benefits everyone. It could either be something fun, or a way to pay the internet bill every few months.
Want to up the game? Try putting all your $1 bills into a jar or box at the end of each day. The savings can start to add up quickly.
Lock-In Savings on Gift Cards
If cash sitting at home or in a savings account is too tempting, and you know exactly what you’re saving for, consider buying gift cards along the way. You could get Home Depot gift cards for a new appliance or Apple gift cards for a new laptop.
This method has some potential drawbacks – if you need the money during an emergency you might get stuck. You could also miss out on a great deal if the product you have your eye on goes on sale at a different store.
One advantage is that you can often buy used gift cards at a discount (check current rates at Gift Card Granny), but I’d argue it’s still better to save all the money and then buy a gift card right when you need it.
Save Half a Raise or Promotion
Celebrate getting a raise or promotion, but then add the money to monthly spending in a strategic way. Whether you only occasionally move money to a savings account or keep a strict budget, try to increase your savings by half the extra income. You’ll have more money to spend each month, and your savings will grow faster. It’s a win-win!
Automate the Process
One way to trick yourself into saving is to make it a simple process. Automate your savings and you just have to worry about how and when to spend the rest.
If you have direct deposit from your employer, you may be able to ask for your paycheck to be automatically split between two or more accounts. If you don’t have direct deposit, you can set up automatic transfers from a checking to savings account at regular intervals. Some banks also let you open multiple savings accounts and give each a name, such as “vacation” or “emergency fund.”
Some companies offer employees company-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or 403(b). If you want to “trick” yourself into saving for retirement, sign up for contributions using a percentage of your pay. This way, whenever you get a raise, the contribution amount will rise as well.
Several apps and programs automate small savings. Bank of America’s Keep the Change® program rounds up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and sends the change to a linked savings account.
If you don’t have Bank of America, the Digit works in a similar way. The app connects to your checking account, analyzes how much you spend, and transfers a few dollars to a Digit savings account every few days. You can always move money back to your checking account (you can even make the request with a text). For every $100 you have in the account you’ll receive five cents every three months (about 1.7 percent interest per month).
Acorns ties the rounding-up concept to an investment account. Connect a checking account or a debit or credit card and Acorns will record all your purchases. It rounds up the difference to the next dollar, and when the sum of the round-ups exceeds $5 the money is transferred from your checking account and invested in one of five diversified portfolios managed by Acorns.