5 Clever Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving More Money

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The savings rate in America is dismal, and it's heading in the wrong direction. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate in America is 4.5 percent, down from 5.6 percent the previous year.

But do you know what's the greatest hindrance to you increasing your savings? You. Your brain is the biggest thing holding you back from saving more, and one of the best ways to combat this is to trick yourself. You have to make savings a game. Here are five sneaky ways to do so.

1. Take the 52-Week Challenge and Increase Savings Weekly

The 52-week savings challenge helps you save more money without even realizing it. Starting with the first week of January, save $1 in a piggy bank or savings account of your choosing.

For every week, you increase your savings based on the corresponding number of that week. For example, during the second week of January you'll save $2 for that week. The third week you will save $3 in your piggy bank. And now you have $1, $2 and $3 for total of $6 saved over the first three weeks.

By December, you'll be saving $49, $50, $51 and $52. And at the end of one year, you will have saved $1,378.

Even though the year has already started, it's not too late to start the 52-week challenge. You won't have to add much money to your piggy bank for the initial few weeks.

There is a great 52-week challenge worksheet from Jeff Rose, a certified financial planner, on his website, Good Financial Cents.

2. Set Aside Your Savings from the Grocery Store

Every time I buy something at the grocery store, the cashier hands me my receipt and tells me how much I saved during my trip. The savings, of course, come from using my loyalty card.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law have a great system for their grocery loyalty cards. They take the amount listed on the bottom of their receipt that they saved with their loyalty card, and they put that in the savings account or piggy bank.

It's money that you would've spent anyway if you had been shopping without your loyalty card. And it is a fast way to build up your savings without even realizing that you're doing so.

3. Only Use Folding Money, and Drop the Change in a Coin Jar

Not only do my wife and I balance our family's monthly budget with a credit card, but we also do not spend coins. Instead we make as many cash purchases as we can by using only bills.
At the end of each day, we take all of the change that we've accumulated and put it in a coin jar. My coin jar sits on top of my dresser, where it reminds me to put my change in it.

You'd be surprised how much money you can save that way. My wife routinely saves more than $500 a year in change.

4. Find Debit Cards that Round Up Your Purchases

There are a host of credit cards and debit cards on the market today. You can find cards that provide you reward points, frequent flyer miles, double miles, membership in elite clubs, and the list goes on and on.

One interesting type of debit card rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar. Your bank then deposits the amount rounded up into a savings account. At Bank of America, the programs called Keep the Change. Using such programs, your painless savings can quickly add up to a couple hundred dollars or more over the course of a year.

5. Keep Making 'Payments' After You Pay Off a Loan

What do you do after you have paid off your car loan? What should you do with cash you've dedicated to your mortgage payment after you own the deed to your house? Keep making the payment to yourself, of course, and put the same amount of money into a savings account.

What you want to avoid is lifestyle creep. You'll never know that it is missing from your budget. You already have it factored into your monthly spending. Simply keep making those payments to yourself.

Saving money doesn't have to be a long, laborious endeavor. It doesn't have to be a pain. In fact, you will have better success if you can make it a game.

Americans are not saving enough money. We are underfunding our retirement accounts and have inadequate emergency funds. But it doesn't have to be that way. We do not have to be victims. We can trick ourselves into saving more.

What are the best ways you use to trick yourself into saving money? Tell us in the comments below.

Hank Coleman is a financial planner and the publisher of the popular personal finance blog Money Q&A, where he answers readers' tough money questions. Follow him on Twitter @MoneyQandA.

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Misty Keith

Fantastic money saving tips, and excellent ways to trick yourself into saving more to be sure! Check out some of the more modern ways you can invest and save at http://allfinance411.com where your future can be brighter when you discover improved ways to manage your financial portfolio!

January 23 2016 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mylie Chan

Saving money. Hmmmm.
1. Try not to live paycheck to paycheck. Plan for life ******* at times.
2. Try to have six months of budget saved up.
3. If married, or have children, get life insurance.
4. Try to enter into retirement debt free. You can save on things like gym (at Planet Fitness) and car insurance ($24/month at InsurancePanda). Try to cut back wherever.
5. Look at your family medical history. Average out how long your ancestors lived. Add 5 years to that average. Is it 68? 75? 92?
6. Now, plan to have what ever your budget is plus a 5% increase per year. If you have a 2k monthly budget now, that is 24k per year. Multiply that times an extra 5% per year. Finally, multiply that for how long you intend or think you will live. Me? My number is 144k (2kx12monthsx6years)(average family death=66 so I go to 71 (if I retire at 65).
My number will rise with inflation.
Now, this notion that we all need to save (or invest in 401's) 1 or 1.5 million dollars is what the BANKS want you to do.
7. What do I do with the rest of the money? LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST EVERYDAY YOU ARE ALIVE!!!!!!

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August 25 2014 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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August 24 2014 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

some more "tricks"...

1) drop the smart phone and get a "dumb" one. Save about $50 per month. Get a low-priced tablet (e.g., Kindle Fire) or use your old iPhone as a wi-fi only device. Wi-fi is available everywhere; you really don't need to pay for cell-based data plans
2) call your car and home insurance company and tell them you want to go through all your coverage because you found another carrier that is cheaper. They'll probably help you "find" 10% off or more.
3) speaking of car insurance - An expensive policy from GEICO, Progressive, etc. is not needed. You can find one usually for less than $25/month from Insurance Panda. If you spend too much on car insurance from one of those big companies, chances are you are simply funding their expensive TV ads with cute animals.
4) compare what your house is really worth to your assessment. Many assessments have never been properly adjusted down to reflect the market over the last 4 years. We cut our property taxes by about 20%.
5) re-fi your 30-year mortgage to a 15. The interest rate will drop by at least 50-75 bps, more depending on your current rate. The payment may go up slightly, but it is because you are paying off your loan faster. If it's possible, get the mortgage paid off before the kids go to college. At a minimum, have it paid off before you retire. if you buy life insurance (which you should), don’t overpay. you can get $15 policies from places like Life Ant or gnworth.
6) review your credit card bills for all the things you are paying $10-20 per month for that you no longer need. I bet everybody has at least a couple
7) drop all magazine (paper and on-line) subscriptions. If you look around, you can find comparable content for free.
8) review your investment portfolio for ways to replace higher fee mutual funds or ETFs with lower fee ones. S&P500 funds/ETFs shouldn't charge more than 0.10% in fees. Fees may be higher for specialty funds, but they are all coming down fast. If your company 401K uses high-fee funds, talk to the folks in charge. A difference of 25 bps in fees will mean a difference of about 5% in your portfolio value after 25 or 30 years.
9) and of course the most impactful -- never carry a balance on a credit card. If you can't resist, cut up the cards.
10) save, save, save!

June 23 2014 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A quick way to save for something you need or something special is to save your $5 bills. It's a little hard at first, but once you get in the mindset of not spending any $5 bills it's amazing how quickly you can save. I saved $125 in 6 weeks doing this - how much can you save?

May 27 2014 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It takes dedication to get rid of debt and to save. Learn how to deal with those kinds of obligations at http://www.mutualfundstore.com/financial-obligations-debt. Once you get something paid off, it's best to save some of that money, if not all of it, because you will indeed see your savings jump. Pay more than the minimum if you can, because that will help. Then, by the time you do retire, you won't have as many debts to worry about.

May 06 2014 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I write a check or use my debit card I note the actual amount I spent in the first column of my check register (so I can balance with my statement) but in the far right column where you subtract payments (and add deposits) I always round up to the nearest dollar and subtract that amount from the total. It keeps the register balance "clean" as I'm not working with cents at all. Also when my paycheck is direct deposited to my checking account I subtract down to the next number ending in zero but at least $5 and put that amount into my check register. Example: Check is for $658.72. I only enter $650.00 into the deposit column of the register. If I use my debit card at the grocery store and the total is $67.36 then I note that amount, but deduct $68.00 from the balance. Doing this on a regular basis is similar to the change jar except the money stays in my account. Using this method I have painlessly saved hundreds of dollars that is there as a cushion if I were to need it. I also do use the change jar idea. If I do spend folding money, any change from it goes into a change jar. Typically I've saved about $200-$250 a year just in the change jar, I often wait until it's filled, then take it to the bank.

May 01 2014 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew N

These were interesting ways to save. Most people don't change, so things that require them to make big changes usually are ineffective. There is a way to save money without changing anything you are currently doing. Painless Profits Online .com has ways to save.

April 29 2014 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply