15 Easy Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money
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There’s a difference between saving money and saving money.
- Saving Money – not spending money or getting something for a discount; paying less for a product or service.
- Saving Money – putting your money into a bank account or saving jar to set aside for later.
While it’s great to get a discount and not spend as much money, let’s talk about easy ways to save money for later.
One easy way to save money is to round up to the next dollar and save the change. There are two ways to do this without really noticing your saving:
- Some banks, like Chime, have a great program that will automatically round up you purchase or even a bill that you pay to the next dollar and save the extra change for you.
- When you go to the store pay cash in all bills. Keep the coin change and throw it in a jar. When I do this on a regular basis I can save about $40/month and I hardly notice a difference.
I love savings challenges, but some seem harder to do than others. Choose one you can stick to.
One challenge suggests saving $52 one week, $51 the next week, $50 the week after, etc. If you can do this one, go for it! You'll save $1,378 in a year. and the best part is you'll only be saving a few dollars a week by the time you get to the holidays.
Here's another challenge that I feel is a little more doable.
Save $1 on the first day of the week, $2 on the second day of the week, until you save $7 on the last day of the week. Then simply repeat this each week. If you keep at it, you'll have saved over $1,400 in a year!
You’ll actually even save more this way than the 52 week calendar challenge, but do whatever is easier for you.
This is a secret of millionaires. Automating your money is one of the smartest things you can do and one of the easiest ways to save money.
- Use the Digit app to automatically transfer small amounts of money from your checking account into your Digit account. Digit monitors your spending habits and makes sure to not over exert you checking so you don’t notice the transfer.
- Chime to the rescue once again. In addition to rounding up your transactions, Chime also has a feature to automatically transfer money to savings each time you get paid.
I’m notorious for stashing money away in a spot that I’ll forget about but will find later.
Here are a few places you can hide money to find later for a fun surprise!
- Tuck a $20 in your coat pocket at the end of the winter season for you to find when you get your coat back out in the winter.
- In a drawer that you don’t frequently get into, but eventually will.
- In small basket or container near your washer and dryer. This is great for when you find money in the pockets of the laundry you’re doing (see "mom tax" below).
- Use a $20 as a bookmark for a book you're not currently reading but will definitely read again.
Mom (or Dad) Tax
While I’m not advocating theft, if money gets left out from my kids being careless then they are bound to lose it and pay dues. I’m cautious not to take money I know they need, but being careless with your money is a good way to lose it even if I’m not the one who keeps it. It’s also a stated rule in our house so I’m not sideswiping anyone.
I call these moments a “mom tax”.
If I’m cleaning up after someone and I find some cash, it’s mine!
- Laundry – what you find in pockets or left in the machine.
- Couch cushions – no way to verify who that quarter belongs to so it’s my pay for cleaning out the couch.
- Drawers – like the junk drawer in the kitchen. (Not digging through others personal belongings.)
- Countertops – If money is left out and abandoned in my domain where I’m cleaning and I have to clear it then it’s a mom tax!
Don’t like the mom tax? Don’t leave money lying around or clean up after yourself.
Save Your Raise
The next time your raise comes in, keep living on the same amount you’ve been living on and save or invest your raise.
Take Advantage of Employer Match Programs
Many companies will offer a match to money that their employees are saving. If this is the case, make sure you try to take advantage of it by contributing the minimum to get the match.
It’s free money!
- Contribute to your employer’s 401(k) to collect the match they will contribute on your behalf.
- Does your employer provide a match for healthcare? This might be for your HSA or FSA accounts. Contribute based on your family’s needs and to qualify for the match. (*Some accounts are set up as “use it or lose it” so only delegate the amount you know your family will use.)
Cash In Your Guilty Pleasure
Cut back or quit your guilty pleasure that costs you extra money and bank the savings.
Do you go to the drive through for coffee or for lunch? Do you take a “donut run” on your breaks and grab a munchie at the convenience store? Skip them and put the money you would have spent into a piggy bank.
You can also skip your smoke break or happy hour after work and put that money into your savings. My sister quit smoking and saved almost $2,000 in a year!
Sleep On It
Before you buy something new, wait at least a day to make the purchase. If it’s expensive, wait a week or even a month to make sure you really want to part with your money.
Stash the money away in your savings account while you are waiting to make your decision.
If you decide if you’d rather keep the money, leave it in your savings. It’s easier to save since it’s already there.
Here’s a trick if you can't decide whether to spend or save; think about how many hours you have to work before you can pay for your purchase. That might help you decide if it’s worth spending the money or saving it.
Cash In Rebates
There are some things you have to buy, like food, so why not take available rebates if you were going to buy it anyway?
Sign up for Ibotta, then check for rebates after you shop. They frequently offer rebates on common purchases and some that are for any brand of an item. They even periodically offer rebates on dairy and produce.
As a welcome bonus, ibotta will start you out with your first $10 free when you join and redeem your first rebate.
Swear Jar (or Prize Jar)
This is a two-for-one.
Need to break a bad habit? Create a jar that you must put money into if you cave to your habit.
If you’re trying to quit swearing, drop in a dollar every time you drop a swear word to see if you can break your habit.
If you’re trying to quit smoking you could save the money you would have spent on your pack of smokes.
To put a positive spin on the jar, set a big goal and reward yourself with a dollar every time you move closer to achieving a goal.
Ebates will apply the savings and add it to an account for you to redeem later.
Like Ebates, Honey is a browser extension that is an easy way to save money when shopping online. It’ll search, find and apply coupon codes to your online purchase.
Another feature is called Honey Gold which saves points for purchases that can later be exchanged for gift cards.
Related Article: What Is Honey, and Why It's a Must Have for Shopping Online
Buy/Sell Discounted Gift Cards
If you have a favorite store that you always shop at, check for available gift cards that are sold at a discount.
Here are some places you can check for discounted gift cards:
Likewise, if you have gift cards that you’ve been given and you know you won’t use them, try selling or exchanging them on these websites.
Debt Free? Pay Yourself
If you no longer have any debt, make payments to yourself as if you were paying a creditor.
How much would you pay if you had a car payment? Take this amount and add it to your savings or retirement fund.
What to Do With Your Savings
Now that you have more than a dozen ways to save, here are some ideas where to put that money.
- Emergency fund – You should have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund. If you’re able, try to work up to 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
- Pay off debt – Accelerate your debt pay off by using extra money to pay it off quickly.
- Retirement – Add money to your retirement fund.
- College fund – Help your kids save money for college. (Or use the money to go back to school yourself if you want to!)
- Vacation – Save up to take your family on your dream vacation.