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Experts recommend having at least $1,000 or 2 weeks pay – whichever is greater – in available money on hand for emergencies. This money will help you pay for unexpected expenses like small car and home repairs, broken appliances, and veterinary emergencies.
But what about those of us who are struggling to make ends meet?? Saving even the bare minimum is definitely easier said than done. That’s why I like to trick myself into saving money.
These 24 Easy Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money will teach you painless ways to save, so you can starting saving your money now and get your finances on track in no time!
For more ways to get your finances in order, check out 25 Money Hacks That Will Save You Money + Simplify Your Life, and if you’re looking for ways to make some serious money in your spare time, see 20 Easy Side Hustles You Can Start Today.
Brilliant Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money
1. AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS
To save money effortlessly, set up your checking account to automatically transfer funds to a savings account when your paycheck is deposited. Even if you save just a little each pay period (like $25 every two weeks), that equals $50 per month, which can add up fast, especially if you’re not paying attention to the balance in your checking account.
This is a pretty genius idea because if the money never touches your hands and you don’t even have to transfer it, you never see it. What you don’t see, you never miss, which makes this a seriously painless way to trick yourself into saving. If you can afford it – and especially if you haven’t been saving money – try to transfer 10% of your paycheck, so you see your savings add up even faster.
Keep the Change
One way to save automatically is with ChimeBank, an online FDIC-insured bank that offers more than 24,000 fee-free ATMs, zero overdraft fees, and no minimum account balance or monthly payment requirements. Chime also helps you save when you spend by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and adding the difference to your savings account.
Acorns is a mobile app that’s similar to ChimeBank, in that it rounds up your purchases to the next dollar, except instead of transferring that money to a savings account, Acorns invests your money in stocks that grow into a small portfolio for long-term savings.
2. BUY CD’S
Once your savings account has accumulated $1,000 (above your emergency fund), consider transferring that amount into a Certificate of Deposit, or CD. CDs are just like savings accounts in that they are insured savings accounts in the bank, so they are virtually risk-free, unlike many other investment types.
The difference is you’ll earn you more in interest than regular savings accounts – .03 – .15% (depending on your deposit amount and length of deposit) compared to .01% for most traditional savings accounts.
You also can’t just withdraw that money whenever you want, but that can actually be a benefit. With the high penalties for early withdrawal, you’ll be less tempted to tap into that savings reserve.
3. PAY CASH
Experts claim people tend to spend less money when they pay for their purchases with cash. The theory is if you have physical cash in-hand, you may be more mindful of what you’re spending than you would be if you paid with a bank card or credit card.
4. LIMIT FUNDS IN YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT
Each time you’re paid, deposit your check into your savings account. Then, only add enough money to your checking account to pay your bills and buy essentials like groceries, gas, and home necessities.
This method keeps your checking account balance low, tricking your brain into thinking you don’t have any extra money to spend on things you don’t need like that weekly night out on the town. Plus, since the money is already in your savings account, it’s more likely to stay there.
5. AUTOMATE PAYMENTS
Set up automatic payments to pay recurring bills like TV, Internet, phone, electric, and more to ensure your bills are paid on time, so you won’t incur late fees.
6. KEEP A CHANGE JAR
Even if you make most purchases with a bank or credit card, you might be surprised by how much you can save with a change jar. In 2004, an Ohio man cashed in 1,407,550 pennies worth $14,075.50, which he collected over 34 years.
Years ago, my gram generously gave me her massive jar of saved coins that I was able to use to put a few hundred dollars toward my kayak. We tend to think coins aren’t worth much, but they can add up to some serious cash.
Really don’t have enough cash on hand to save? Consider rounding up dollar amounts in your checking account and adding the difference to your savings account (or investment account with the Acorns app – see above).
A few dollars and cents may not seem like much now, but can really add up in the long run.
7. SAVE FOUND CHANGE
Most people ignore loose change they find in public places like sidewalks, but imagine how much money you could save if you tried to collect every coin you saw!
If you do laundry for your family, let them know that any change you find in their pockets will go into your savings. They’ll either clean out their pockets or pay up.
Found money can even be expanded to any unexpected cash – rebate checks, coupons, the “You Saved” amounts on receipts – save it all!
8. BUILD A COMMUNITY OF LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
It’s so much easier to achieve a goal – saving money, losing weight, etc. – when you have other motivated people to do it with you. Even normally great friends can sabotage your efforts to save if they encourage to spend more money eating out, going to bars, buying the latest fashions, and more.
Make sure you surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals, and if you can’t meet them in person, start a Facebook support group or communicate regularly through group texts.
9. SAVE YOUR RAISE
Instead of raising your cost of living every time you get a raise at work, live frugally and save that money in your savings account, 401(k), IRA, or other investment account.
10. SWIPE A FEW BUCKS
Check your checking account balance the day before payday. If there’s $129.95 in the account, transfer $9 (or $29) into savings.
11. PAY IT FORWARD
Did you finally pay off your car? If you can, keep making that payment – to yourself. Deposit the amount of your car payment into your savings each month. If you can do this consistently, you may even be able to pay cash for your next car! Can’t afford to save the whole payment? Deposit half – it’ll still add up nicely.
12. PLAY THE DOLLAR BILL GAME
Challenge your family, roommates, or group of friends to save every dollar bill they find. At the end of month, let the winner who saved the most, choose a small reward.
13. GET A CASH REWARDS CREDIT CARD
Credit cards aren’t always bad news. If you pay off your balances every month, you can actually make your credit cards work for you. With rewards credit cards, you can earn rewards for every dollar you spend, including cash back, statement credits, airline miles, and points you can redeem toward gift cards and other items.
If you use these cards for everyday purchases and even bills, your rewards can really add up! Just make sure you can trust yourself not to overspend.
14. DON’T STORE CREDIT CARD INFORMATION
Don’t store your credit card information with online retailers to make it more difficult to spend on impulse. If you already have your information stored in online accounts, delete it. That way, when you do go to spend money online, you have to complete more steps, which can help you rethink whether you really need to make the purchase at all.
15. HAVE A NO-SPEND DAY OR WEEK
Regularly implement a no-spend day or week where you challenge yourself not to spend any money during that time period. Make your coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks, pack your lunch for work, and eat at home instead of going out to eat.
Don’t go much longer than a week, though. You may have heard of people following no-spend months or even a whole year(!), but challenging yourself to such long periods of time is too difficult for most people. You want to save money, but you also want to enjoy life.
16. SET UP A WAITING RULE
We live in a consumer society, so it’s really difficult for most people to go through life without wanting to make some sort of frivolous purchase. When you’re trying to save, though, do you really need the latest iPhone or smart watch?
Whenever you go to purchase anything big or that you don’t really need, set up a waiting period first. Wait two weeks to a month to make sure you really want to spend money on that item. Chances are, the impulse to buy will have passed, and you’ll get to keep your money instead of wasting it on something you don’t really want or need.
17. USE THE REVERSE CREDIT SYSTEM
Instead of putting big purchases on your credit card and dealing with all the problems that can potentially come with credit card debt – spending big bucks on interest, high payments that prevent you from having cash-on-hand, etc. – save for what you want with “reverse credit.”
Say you want to buy a new Apple product like a computer or an iPhone. With the reverse credit system, you save money for your purchase by buying gift cards when you have any extra cash on hand. Basically, it’s just a mind game for anyone who has difficulty saving cash because it helps ensure you won’t spend your money frivolously on something else. Just make sure your gift cards won’t expire before you can make your purchase.
18. BUY DISCOUNTED GIFT CARDS
Gift cards can be purchased on the secondary market on sites like Raise.com for prices below the card’s current value, meaning you pay $90, but you get the full $100 value of the card. Put that $10 discount into your savings, and spend the gift cards like cash on groceries, gas, clothing, and more.
19. STOCK UP ON SALE ITEMS
Stock up on products you already buy when they go on sale. Just make sure to keep track of the regular price, so you know the sale price is a good deal, and check online prices regularly to make sure you can’t get it cheaper elsewhere. Also, don’t buy things you don’t really need just because it’s on sale.
20. JOIN MICROSOFT REWARDS
Earn rewards for things you do anyway with Microsoft rewards. With this program, you earn rewards you can redeem for movies, games, apps, and more just by using Bing for Internet searches, taking fun quizzes, and shopping for Microsoft products. You can even put your rewards points towards the purchase of a new laptop, an Xbox One, and other great Microsoft products!
21. DITCH AN UNHEALTHY HABIT
Do you smoke? Quit! Then, put the money you would have spent on tobacco in a savings account. This also works for alcohol, which can be seriously expensive, too, especially if you like to go out to drink. Bonus: You’ll save loads of money on future healthcare!
22. WALK WHEN YOU CAN
Can you run any errands on foot or on a bicycle? Doing so will save you money on gas and wear-and-tear on your vehicle, is great for your health, and promotes weight loss.
23. MAKE A DEPOSIT EVERY FRIDAY
Deposit any extra money in your wallet or checking account into your savings every Friday. This will trick you into thinking you’re broke, so you won’t be tempted to overspend on weekends.
24. REWARD YOURSELF
With all of this talk about saving money, you might be surprised that I actually recommend you spend some money on yourself, too, but splurging just a little can have some great benefits!
For most of us, saving money can be pretty difficult, especially if you have to be seriously frugal. That’s why it’s a good idea to loosen the purse strings just a little to splurge on something small for yourself once in a while. Treat yourself to your favorite Starbucks latte, get a much-needed massage to reduce stress, or even splurge on those shoes you’ve been eying for months.
If you’ve been saving your money like a pro, it makes sense to reward yourself. It may motivate you to keep going – just don’t go overboard and don’t do it too often, or you may sabotage all your hard work.
Saving money can be really hard, but it doesn’t have to be. These 24 Genius Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money are sure to help you find painless ways to save – even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck!
I would love to hear from you!
What are some of your favorite ways to trick yourself into saving money? Share your story in the comments below! Want more amazing money tips? Check out 25 Money Hacks That Will Save You Some Serious Money + Simplify Your Life.