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Let’s be honest: Saving money isn’t much fun. Most of us do it because it’s the responsible thing to do, not because we really want to save money. If it weren’t for some awfully clever ways to trick yourself into saving money, I know I would have a really hard time saving money consistently.
Why? I’m only human!
Thanks to fast food, high speed internet, and Netflix, you and I have been conditioned to love instant-gratification. It feels good to get what you want exactly when you want it. And I’m right there with you.
The good news is that I’ve become pretty good at fighting back against my natural urges to spend, and today, I’m sharing the most effective saving tricks I’ve found with you.
Check out the following 10 ways to trick yourself into saving money and put some into practice today.
1. Treat Yo’ Self
If you’re going to trick yourself into saving money, there has to be an eventual payoff, right?
One of the best ways I strive to save money is by creating a goal to work towards. When I finally achieve that goal, I take a small percentage of the money I saved and spend it on myself.
No, I don’t go overboard, but even something small like a bar of chocolate is often all the reward I need to keep saving money.
2. Break Down Goals into Smaller Sub-Goals
I’m all for having ambitious goals. In fact, I set specific goals for almost everything I do: saving, investing, selling real estate, the money I earn from this blog, and more.
But I firmly believe the reason I often (not always) achieve my goals is because I break them down into smaller, manageable goals along the way.
Let’s say you want to fool yourself into saving money this year, say to the tune of $5,000. There are a number of ways you could break down this goal:
- You could save $416.67 per month for 12 months.
- Or you could save $96.15 per week.
- This also works out to about $13.70 per day.
For most people, the thought of saving $5,000 becomes way less overwhelming when you break it down into smaller chunks.
3. Automate Your Savings
Want to know why breaking savings goals into smaller units is so effective?
Smaller, manageable goals motivate people to act consistently because accomplishments and rewards are habit-building.
That said, are you REALLY going to commit to making consistent savings transfers or deposits on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis? I didn’t think so.
And that’s where the power of automation comes to the rescue.
Here are two options worth looking into:
Digit is an automatic savings assistant that helps you save money consistently without the time and hassle. It uses military grade-security and sophisticated algorithms to transfer small, regular sums of money from your checking account directly into a secure and accessible Digit savings account. Since you can transfer money back into your checking with just a few clicks on your phone, it’s just about as easy as it gets.
Bonus Alert: Digit will give you $5 toward your savings goals when you sign-up and deposit your first $5!
If less-frequent, larger savings deposits under your control are your thing, CIT Bank offers a Premier Yield Savings Account with a 1.55% interest rate, which blows most banks out of the water (see below). You can easily schedule single time or reoccurring transfers straight from your current checking account in just a few minutes. You can learn more about CIT Bank Premier Yield Savings here.
4. Save Money With Every Purchase You Make
When I was a kid, my dad kept a small dish on his dresser to hold his loose change. A few pennies, nickles, and quarters sure didn’t seem like much to me at first, but all of that loose change added up quickly.
Acorns has taken the concept of putting loose change to work to the digital level and improved it by leaps and bounds. Case in point: last year, I used the Acorns app to invest round up my debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and essentially invest what otherwise be loose change if I had paid in cash. To date, my portfolio has earned over 8%.
Acorns isn’t for everyone – especially if you find yourself without a solid emergency fund, taking on the risk of investing money isn’t your best move. But if you’re looking to reach your savings goals faster, there’s no doubt that Acorns can help you get there.
And if you sign-up using this link and process your first investment, Acorns will give you an additional $5 to invest for free.
5. Eliminate Stressful Distractions and Unknowns
One of the easiest ways to lose sight of your money saving goals is to allow distractions to get in the way.
Let’s face it: it’s nearly impossible to trick yourself into saving money when there are other financial problems competing for your attention.
One of the easiest ways to put yourself at ease with money is by securing a reputable credit monitoring service. CreditSesame, for example, is 100% free, and it provides a crystal clear look at your debt obligations. They also monitor for fraud and identity theft so you can focus on your savings goals worry free.
6. Consider Big Purchases for 30 Days Before Pulling the Trigger
Years ago, a good friend shared a genius way to trick yourself into saving money: write down any planned purchases over $100 and wait 30 days before completing the purchase.
If you still feel you need/want the item after 30 days, that’s a good sign you really DO need it. But if not, you’ve just saved yourself a ton of cash!
7. Create a Visual Representation of Your Savings Goals
Did you ever have a clear change jar around your house growing up? The reason this savings technique caught on so well may surprise you.
Sure, tossing loose change into a jar IS easy, but the real secret to this technique’s success lies in the psychological boost you gain from visualizing your progress.
One of the best ways to trick yourself into saving money is very similar: create a simple, thermometer-style saving chart for each of your money saving goals and post it in a meaningful and visible place in your home (refrigerator, bathroom mirror).
In 2018, I’m using this motivational technique to visually monitor both my blogging income and real estate commission, and it has done wonders for my motivation!
***Progress update: As of October 2018, I’ve already crushed my real estate commission goal and am on track to reach my blogging income goal. This stuff works!***
8. Say “No” to At Least One Opportunity to Spend Each Week
I’m going to share a rare but powerful word with you. Purse your lips, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and say it with me:
Sure, it’s not fun to turn down your friends for drinks or stay home and watch Netflix while your buddies are at the movies. I’m not denying that.
But if you say “no” to one social opportunity every week, your savings will add up in a hurry.
And hey – while you’re at home, you could easily pad your savings a bit more by taking a few mindless surveys while catching up on your favorite shows.
9. Save Money While You Spend
Yeah, this article is all about saving money, but spending money from time to time is unavoidable.
Fortunately, there are a few savvy ways to save money even on the most necessary purchases.
For grocery savings and more, sign-up with Ibotta and download the mobile app. You can redeem some pretty incredible offers on items you’d normally buy anyway and get cash back just by scanning your receipt in the app.
***BONUS: Ibotta will send you $10 when you create your account and redeem an offer!***
Ebates will cover you for many of your online purchases (currently over 1,200 online retailers!) and help put cash back in your pocket in a similar way. Bonus? You guessed it: Ebates will toss a crisp $10 your way when you make your first purchase.
10. This or That
Even if you implement each of the previous items in this list, your fortitude is going to be tested from time to time. And you know what? That’s OK. Sometimes spending is the right choice.
But what should you do if you’re not sure whether you should save or spend?
Here’s an easy psychological trick: imagine the item you’re considering purchasing in one hand and its exact value in cash in the other hand. Which one would you rather have?
Studies show that cash carries far more appeal, so if you’re really feeling justified in your choice to snag those new Jimmy Choos, it just might be the right choice.
Developing good money habits isn’t an easy, overnight process. But with the right mindset and a willingness to be get a little unconventional, it’s possible to trick yourself into saving money and achieve your financial goals faster than you imagined.
Have you tried any of these money saving tricks? What other suggestions do you have?