For most of my life, I’ve struggled when it comes to saving money. I could spend it like nobody’s business, but the thought of putting it in a safe place for the future just didn’t compute. How could I afford to save money when I was broke? Never mind the fact that I was broke due to my frivolous spending; the reason wasn’t important. All I knew was that saving money was way less exciting than buying stuff!
Fast forward to late 2010. A friend of mine was griping about giving her mom money for the millionth time. She complained, “I thought parents were supposed to help out their kids, not the other way around!” Somehow the planets aligned in that moment, and I realized, Holy crap, that’s going to be me someday! The thought of asking my son for money to correct MY mistakes was more than I could stand.
So I magically became frugal and started saving 82% of my income, all while wearing sweaters made from my own hair…. Oh, wait. It didn’t work that way. Sorry, I forgot! Actually, saving is STILL hard for me to do, though it became a lot easier once I forced myself to start. Here are a few ways to start saving money even when you don’t really want to.
Save Your Change
I don’t use cash very often anymore, but I used to, especially when I was at risk of overdraft fees at the bank. Anytime I had change in my purse or my pockets, I would put it in Jayden’s piggy bank (more because I hated change than because I wanted to save money). One day we decided to cash in all the change, and I was absolutely floored to find that he had nearly $80 in his bank! No, that isn’t a huge amount of money – maybe enough to pay a utility bill – but at the time, it was $80 more than I had in my own savings account.
Coins are one of those annoyances that most of us don’t think about, but they can come in handy. Get a bank, jar, or bucket and start throwing your change in there. You might be surprised by how much you can accumulate.
Round Up When You Spend
One of my former coworkers used to round up every purchase she made to the next dollar. She would seriously get out her phone and transfer 53 cents to savings right then through mobile banking so she wouldn’t forget. We laughed at her a lot because it seemed ridiculous. Why bother with such small amounts, especially when you have to go to so much effort to do it? Well, we weren’t laughing last summer when she and her husband went on a trip to Puerto Rico, paid for with savings from 2 years of rounding up purchases.
We have more access to our money than ever before thanks to advances in technology. If your bank doesn’t round up for you, it does take a few minutes (and some dedication) to do this, but it can pay off big!
Turn it Into a Game
Ever notice the letter inside the seal on the face of a dollar? Another friend of mine saves $1 bills, but only those with certain letters on them. Every 6 months, she chooses two letters that she will save – she’s allowed to spend the rest. For some reason, assigning a rule like that turns it into a scavenger hunt, which makes her more determined to find dollars to save. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve left a tip at a restaurant, only to see her trade one or two of my bills for hers.
I think this is a particularly creative way to save money because (1) it’s kind of fun and (2) it keeps you on your toes. My friend is always paying attention in hopes of finding one of the designated letters on a dollar, and her savings has grown tremendously.
Separate it and Automate It
One of the easiest ways to save money is putting it in a separate savings account (or better yet, a separate bank). Ever since I opened an account with ImpulseSave, I’m always surprised to see the balance in my account because I forget the money is there. And because money is automatically withdrawn from my bank account in small amounts, I don’t even think about it. Same thing with PNC Virtual Wallet, my primary checking and savings. Money goes to savings every two weeks, and I only realize how much is there if I happen to look at my savings balance.
The harder your money is to access, the less likely you are to spend it. It’s a fact. If you have to go to a website, remember your password, transfer the money to your checking account, and wait 3-4 days, you’ll probably save a lot more than you think.
How Do You Save Money?
There are tons of ways to get a jumpstart on saving. What ways work for you? Have you ever done anything drastic or silly to trick yourself into saving?