Build the Habit, Then Trick Yourself into Building Your Savings

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Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further


Many of us want to save. Many of us have an idea on how to save, but how many of us actually do save?

It is very similar to the age-old dieting syndrome. We all know what to do; we just don’t follow through with actions. Take the gym, for example. Everyone buys the membership, but it only works if you actually go. Savings is the same. You can save, but you have to actually put money into the savings account for it to be just that—savings.

It is suggested that you have at least three months worth of living expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, car payments, and all other bills) in your savings account. Sound like you? Great! Then you are off to a good start.

But if you are like the rest of America, what you think about has not yet manifested itself into your savings account. What do we have to do to change this? It’s going to take some good ol’ fashioned self-discipline—develop that savings habit, and maybe a few new tricks that you haven’t tried yet.

Let’s develop our habit first.

Start Small

Begin saving by starting with a small goal such as $1 a day. This is $30 a month. The goal doesn’t seem too daunting and will allow you to begin developing the habit without too much of a crunch on your budget.

Just remember to pay yourself first. If you don’t want to hit the bank each day, then the minute you get paid you stick that $7 or $15 (depending on whether your paycheck is weekly or bi-weekly) in your savings account on pay day. Want to know a little trick? Keep your savings account at a separate bank—you will be less likely to do an online transfer for that “little something” that you really don’t need to buy.

Pretend like you are paying a bill

View the savings goal as a bill each month. Pay your savings just like you would a utility bill, add it to your savings and deduct it from your checking. If it helps write a check to your savings account!

Set up an automatic draft: you can set up to have an automatic draft from your checking to your savings account. Start small as suggested. Try deducting just $15 per pay period automatically.

Increase your savings every time you receive a raise: There is an old saying, “The more money you make, the more you spend.” This is very true. You are probably making more money now than you were at the age of sixteen. Are you spending more, too? By increasing your savings amount, each time you get a raise, you will not miss the money because you never had it before the raise. Just imagine how much you can save over your lifetime if you increase your savings amount for each raise!

Write it down: Write down your goals, how much you spend and what your bills are for each month. There’s nothing like self-awareness and honesty to keep you in the game and on the right track.

Some “trick yourself into savings” tips

Carry large bills: Carry only large bills and leave your credit and debit cards at home. You will be a lot less likely to buy that unnecessary pack of gum or energy drink. It’s a great way to weed out those daily purchases that are killing your budget and stealing from your savings.

Turn coupon savings into actual savings: Clipping coupons is great—just don’t let it backfire. Most people feel that if they saved $10 this week on groceries due to their tedious coupon clipping, they deserve a reward. They may be tempted to go out to dinner or to buy a more expensive item while in the grocery store. This completely negates the whole purpose of using the coupons in the first place.

Empty your pockets daily: Gather up all that loose change and single dollars. Designate a container and take it to your bank every week (this container would be a great place to store your coupon savings as well). You will not notice these few dollars missing and you will watch your savings grow.

Save “extra” paychecks: You know those months that you get five paychecks instead of four? (Or, if you are paid bi-weekly you may get three instead of two.) Save that extra paycheck! Do not use it to budget your bills. Pretend it is gone, that you never received it. Watch your savings grow.

Simply build the habits, try the tricks and get that savings built up. You can’t plan your retirement, a vacation, or any kind of luxury or necessity without it. If you are committed to living a paid-for lifestyle, this is how you start—by saving your money.

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Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further