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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Scott Johnson

I have direct deposit set to send $50 ever biweekly check. That's a hundred a month. I'll put half or more of my tax refund in it, too. If I have at extra, I'll put it in there. I save change, too. It isn't much, but after a year or two you got a big amount. I recommend online savings account because they pay more interest.

March 08 2014 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's really good to save money for the future. This article is really helpful for those who have been also struggling and making ways in how to pay and limit thier debts. I agree with you when it comes to paying down debts. Learning how to quickly pay off personal loans, business loans, and any other kinds of loan can help you save money and reduce stress caused by your debts.

February 20 2014 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joseph Lamarca

Just dont spend too much on services.
1) Cable TV? Cut it out and just watch Netflix or TV online (Aereo, etc.). Cable is too expensive.
2) Car Insurance? GEICO, Progressive, etc. are way too expensive. I pay $35/month full coverage from Insurance Panda
3) Laundry? Cleaning Service? Yard work? Don't be lazy - do it yourself.
4) Same with food. Don't eat out. Don't buy expensive groceries (don't shop at Whole Foods).

Most people simply waste too much money they don't need to waste!

February 20 2014 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We do the coin saving thing but a very effective one we have been doing for several years now is not spending $1 bills we get in change. We put in a box and put them in a CD at the end of the year. We have saved over $4000 in the past 5 years using this method. Never missed the money

February 19 2014 at 2:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Put all of it into your bank account. Only draw what you need.
Nothing lasts forever. Most income streams are interupted several times over a lifetime.
If you are prepared, you'll fair better than if not.
People unprepared for their next income break make panic decisions and go into heavy debt. Most of these people never recover and live lower quality lifetimes throwing away most of their hard earned money on interest than those who were prepared.

February 19 2014 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was born in the dustbowl during the depression. People from back then have a pretty strict attitude towards thrift. We tend to try to save money anyway we can. A consideration to motivate you to save money is this. The money you save is like money you earned, but you don't have to pay taxes on it.

February 19 2014 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to punnster's comment

you are correct. Just this morning I threw away a large piece of alum foil that was clean. And as I was putting in the trash, I remembered how my mom would reuse it again. She use to use hang clothes on a line when she could, even in the winter (in CO) instead of using the dryer, etc. All that adds up.

February 20 2014 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like to put one single hour of my base weekly 40 hour pay into my savings account, we do get consistant over timeweekly as well, so i add the first over timehour worked to my base hour pay savings. I feel itsa great concept, afterall wework very hard for our money, so I say pay your self first. its only 1/40 off my pay, and then budget all the rest of my expenses weekly , try it an you too will see howfast it all adds up.the most difficult part is , to NOT spend it in six months time when the numbers really start to get impressive,.

February 19 2014 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Trick yourself into saving more money? This is the capitalist sloth. The best tricks you can do is stop eating. Americans have no money

February 19 2014 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to weilunion's comment

I bet you were in the drama club dear. And it is evident that you were not very good at darling.

February 19 2014 at 8:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

My latest strategy is to ask myself, "Do I really need that item?" and "Will my world come to an end if I don't buy it?" The answer is usually 'NO". I've been gung-ho about purchasing my favorite DVD movies so I can watch them.......I found that I can rent them at the public library for next to nothing.........I'd watch them on the Internet but I love my larger screen television monitor (and again, the library rentals are cheaper). Shopping has also been fun...but again, do I really need the latest fad items at the mall. Again, the answer is a resounding, "NO". Buy good classic clothing...they never go out of style. Look around your house....how much have you purchased that you really use or need. You might be surprised. Making monthly payments on your house? Add a bit more each month to the principle and pay it off faster........you pay more for interest than you pay on the actual cost of the house.....many times over. The same logic applies to automobiles....think about it. How would you feel and how would your life be if you were totally debt free? And no, I'm not pushing any product.,....just common sense and freedom for you and your family.

February 19 2014 at 11:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply