5 Simple Tricks for Saving More Money

So you want to save more money? Who doesn’t? Most Americans are saving far too little, and not having savings makes you vulnerable to going into debt for emergency expenses or ending up with too little money to support you during retirement.

Setting aside the recommended 20% of your income to accomplish financial goals can seem like an insurmountable task, but the good news is that you can work up to saving more. And you can try a few simple tricks to boost your savings account pain-free.

1. Institute a 24-hour rule

Have you ever made a purchase you regretted? Most of us have. And that’s a big problem because you’ve spent money on something that makes you unhappy instead of putting that cash to better use.

To curb impulse buys that don’t add value to your life, set a rule that you’ll wait 24 hours before making any purchases over a set spending limit ($20 is a good number). The delay can provide time to shop around to see where you can find the best deal. And, after sleeping on it overnight, chances are good you’ll decide not to buy anyway.

To make sure you don’t just waste the money on some other purchase later, transfer the amount you would have spent on the item directly to your savings account. After all, if you had the money to buy the item, that cash can be used to accomplish your other goals.

2. Play a savings game

Saving money doesn’t have to feel like work, especially if you can make the process fun. Try challenging your spouse or a friend to see who can have the most no-spend days during the month. Your competitive instincts should lead you to maximize the number of days when you spend $0 on anything other than necessities.

Alternatively, commit to saving every $5 bill you get back in change, or do a 52-week savings challenge where you save $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three — and so on, up until the last week of the year when you save $52. This simple trick alone would leave you with $1,378.00 in savings by year’s end.

3. Transfer your savings right away

How many times have you scored an awesome deal because the item you planned to buy was on sale or because you printed out a coupon? When you save money on something, chances are good that the money just stays in your bank account and ends up being spent on something else.

But what if it didn’t? What if, instead, you transferred that cash to savings immediately? You’d be surprised how much money you’d end up with at the end of the year if you hopped into your online bank account and moved over money saved when you got a $5 coupon off pizza or found that the shoes you were planning to buy were 20% off.

With online banking, it’s easier than ever to quickly transfer money from checking to savings. So, as soon as you score a deal, transfer the cash you’d have spent to make it start working for your future.

4. Keep the change

Dumping your change into a jar at the end of the day allows you to build a little nest egg effortlessly over time. But this trick doesn’t work in an increasingly cashless society. The good news is that there are automated ways to achieve the same effect.

There are apps that round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and move that money into a savings or investment account. One of the most popular, Acorn, costs $1 a month (but if you can get your balance up over $5,000, the fee is waived). Some banks, such as Bank of America, offer this service for free.

5. Automate the process

Finally, one of the simplest ways to save more money is to just make the process automatic. If you transfer money out of your checking account every single payday into a savings account, you won’t always be forced to make the financially responsible choice, because your money will effortlessly go where you want it.

Automate money transfers to different kinds of savings accounts. Sign up for contributions to your workplace 401(k) or to an IRA for retirement. And set up a transfer of money to a savings account for an emergency fund, vacation fund, college savings, or whatever other big-ticket items you’re saving for.

Ideally, you’d automate the transfer of about 20% of your income to different accounts. If you can’t start there, start by putting 1% or 2% of your money into retirement savings and $10 per pay period into your other accounts. You’ll quickly adjust to the small drop in income, and you can up the amount within a few weeks.

Keep gradually increasing the amount of money transfers, and before you know it, you’ll be saving more than you imagined you could.

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