You know you should be saving money, but that’s easier said than done.
When it comes to actually setting that savings aside, life has a tendency to get in the way — the unexpected dental bill, the urgent car repair, the surprise baby shower your colleagues ask you to chip in for at work.
The next time you use a coupon to get five dollars off your groceries or 20 percent off your delivery order, make sure the money you saved on your purchase actually winds up in your savings account.
You might feel like you can’t possibly afford to set another penny aside.
But with these ten strategies, you might just be able to trick your way into saving more money anyway.
Your Starter Savings Steps
When you’re just starting out, getting into the habit of setting money aside is more important than the actual amount you save.
Start with these simple strategies to prove to yourself that you can actually afford to save — and eventually, you can increase your savings contributions as you’re more able.
1. Save Your Change
This classic strategy of saving all your spare change in a jar is a valuable reminder of just how much small savings can add up over time.
Your own change jar can help you start making regular micro-savings contributions while serving as a daily reminder that you can almost always afford to set something aside.
2. Use a Microsavings App
Depending on how often you use cash, the coin jar savings strategy might not be as effective as it used to be. Enter Qapital, a popular savings app that allows you to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, saving your change virtually.
According to Qapital, the average user automatically saves $44 each month. Again, this is a great way to boost your savings painlessly and challenge the notion that you can’t afford to save more money.
3. Save Your Savings
The next time you use a coupon to get five dollars off your groceries or 20 percent off your delivery order, make sure the money you saved on your purchase actually winds up in your savings account by using an app like Tip Yourself, which links directly to your bank account and lets you pay yourself any amount you want.
So the next time you see something to the effect of “You saved $44.78” on the bottom of your receipt, use Tip Yourself, or schedule an immediate transfer from your checking account to your savings account, for the amount saved.
Up Your Savings Game
Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can afford to save (or save more) with our starter savings steps, up your savings game with these next-level steps.
4. Save an Extra 1 Percent
Whatever your savings rate is right now, that is, however much of your salary you’re currently setting aside, challenge yourself to increase that amount by 1 percent.
You’ve already proven to yourself that you can save more, so why not make it official and up your regular savings rate?
By increasing your savings by small increments like 1 percent, you’re unlikely to feel much of a difference in your day-to-day spending abilities, but you will see the growth in your savings.
5. Save Your Raises
The next time you get a pay increase, challenge yourself to save that raise, (or at least some of it), instead of spending all of those extra dollars on lifestyle upgrades.
If you get a 5 percent raise, save an extra 2 or 3 percent of your salary.
You don’t have to save every additional dollar of your new salary, but use the opportunity of your increased income to also increase your savings rate.
For example, if you get a 5 percent raise, save an extra 2 or 3 percent of your salary. In this way, you can increase your savings without making any major lifestyle sacrifices.
6. Pay Yourself First
Committing to a higher savings rate is great in theory, but it’s only effective if you actually do it.
If you wait until the end of the month to set those savings aside, it’s more likely that those dollars will be spent elsewhere before they’ve actually made their way into your savings account. But if you pay yourself at the start of each month by transferring money into a savings account at the same time you pay your regular monthly bills like your housing payment, you’re far more likely to keep your commitment to your savings goals.
7. Automate Your Savings
Schedule an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account on the day after your paycheck lands in your account each week or month.
When you don’t see the money you’ve earmarked for savings sitting around in your checking account, you’re less likely to think of it as money you have available to spend, and you’re more likely to keep your commitment to saving.
Bonus tip: Keep your savings account at a separate bank, so you can’t dip into it on a whim. It can take anywhere from two to four days to transfer your money between accounts, so you won’t be able to spend your savings impulsively.
Supercharge Your Savings
Once you’ve developed a consistent savings habit, use these strategies to supercharge your savings rate.
8. Turn Old Payments Into Savings Contributions
Any time you cancel a subscription or pay off a debt, instead of just scrapping the monthly bill, turn it into a savings contribution.
For example, let’s say you just made the last $500 monthly payment on your student loans. Congrats! Now instead of paying that $500/month to your lender, send that $500/month to your savings account.
9. Bank Your Windfalls
Instead of rushing to figure out what you can buy with your next tax refund or bonus, bank it in your savings account. You can still use 10 or 20 percent of it for a small splurge.
10. Get Specific With Your Savings Goals
Labeling your savings account with what you’re actually saving money for can keep you motivated to stick with your savings habit.
Many online banks let you set up sub-accounts within your savings account at no extra cost. You can give each one a name for your respective savings goals. For example, vacation fund, house fund, holiday fund, freedom fund, etc.
If you want to save even more money, create visual reminders of these savings goals and place them around your life — like a photo of your dream home in your wallet wrapped around your credit cards, or a picture of your dream vacation spot as the background on your phone.
These visual reminders can help you stay focused on your big picture goals and make smarter spending choices, so you can bank the savings needed to achieve them.