Financial freedom is an important goal, but it can be hard to gain if you’re constantly struggling to save money. Spending money is easy and comes naturally, but saving money requires discipline and a set plan.
Yet saving doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. There are ways you can make savings a reflex, meaning you do it automatically without much of a second thought. Once you get the hang of it, saving will become a regular part of your life.
Want to become a super-saver? There’s no better time to start than today. Here are a few ways you can make saving a habit and a lifestyle you’ll wish you adopted sooner:
1. Round Up Purchases
Rounding up your purchases to the next dollar amount is one way to sneak extra money into your savings account.
The round-up technique is simple, but adds up to a considerable amount of savings over time. With every purchase you make, round up the total to the nearest dollar. Those pennies will get put into savings. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but you’ll be surprised by how many transactions you make in a week. Your savings account will grow in a matter of months.
If you don’t have the time or patience to do all that math yourself, get a debit card that does it for you. With most companies you can just activate it with the touch of a button and start watching your savings grow.
2. Pay Yourself First
Many people fail to save because they don’t have enough money left over every month to set aside. This is what happens when you take care of all of your spending first. To ensure that your savings account is receiving regular contributions, learn to pay yourself first.
With every paycheck you receive, pull some out and put it into savings before doing anything else. As long as you’re following a budget, you will never take out more than you need. Setting money aside into savings first will avoid the possibility of overspending taking away your savings efforts.
Better yet, automate this task. Automating your savings is the best way to make personal saving a reflex. You can set up regular deposits into your savings account so that every month you’re setting aside a little more.
3. Stop Your Impulse Spending
Nothing will wreck a budget faster than impulse spending. The average American spends $276 a month on impulse purchases, money that could be put to much better use. Even the perfect budget can fall apart with one unplanned purchase if you don’t have financial wiggle room.
People have gotten really creative when it comes to keeping their impulse buying to a minimum. For some, it’s a mantra that they’ll repeat when passing by a store they would otherwise be interested in shopping at. Others use a more humorous touch, like putting a sticky note on their debit card that says “Emergencies only!”
Impulse buying is even more difficult today with how easy it is to buy items online. To stop yourself from going too crazy on Amazon, don’t save your payment information. This makes online shopping require more effort, giving you time to back out of an unnecessary purchase.
4. Automate Your Payments
The average American consumer has a credit card balance of over $5,000. That number alone is staggering, but it leads to an even bigger problem. When you have a card balance you can’t pay off, you end up paying a substantial amount of interest. That’s hundreds of dollars in expenses each month that could be avoided.
To keep your credit card account current so you don’t incur additional fees or interest, automate your payments. This will help you keep your balance paid off. That way, the interest doesn’t keep eating away at the money that could be going into savings. Plus, you won’t get dinged with a late fee. You can automate other bills like a utility bill or car payment. Anything else that could come with a penalty or late fee is a great candidate for automated billing.
5. Put It on the Calendar
Proactive saving is always beneficial, like looking for ways to cut down your power bill or to get the best deal at the grocery store. It’s also good to have reactive saving habits, as implied by the word “reflex.” You can build an automatic reflex for saving is to put a date on the calendar to review your savings.
Let’s make this easy. Say that you’ll mark the first of every month on your calendar as your savings day. This could be a day to move some cash into savings or review your bank statement from the last month. This will also be a good day to check on your accounts if you get paid at the end of the month. You can use your recent earnings in your calculations as a guide.
6. Look at Investments
There’s some risk involved when it comes to investing your money, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Investments have a huge selling point over a traditional savings account.
Your money has the chance to grow by a considerable amount when compared to a regular savings account. Investment accounts offer robust compound interest and dividends. Savings accounts with regular banking institutions tend to offer very small interest rates on your savings in comparison.
When getting into investing, start by playing it safe. Look for ETFs, bonds, and other investment opportunities that have low risks associated with them. While the rewards won’t be as big, they’ll be more guaranteed. This way, you can drop in some money and let it build up your savings for you.
Developing any kind of reflex requires consistent action. Start doing the little things to save more today and set savings goals that move you toward lifetime habits. Financial success and independence won’t be too far away.