Everyone wants to have more money. Instead of getting another job or starting a business to increase your income, it can be done simply by changing the way you manage your money. Not only that, but there are many ways you can save money with minimal effort. Once you get used to the process, you’ll become used to it and it won’t take much of your time.
How Much Should You Aim to Save?
This is a question on everyone’s mind when they start to seriously save for the first time. Most experts agree that the average American should aim to have enough money to survive for six months without any income. Keep in mind that this is a minimum amount and the higher the better.
Aim to save more than you spend every month. This is one of the key habits of the rich that the poor don’t have. Before you spend money on luxuries, think about whether that money can be placed in an emergency fund. Don’t immediately increase your spending just because you got a promotion. Think about how you can increase the amount you save.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding how much you should save. Simply try and aim to build up a pot that can sustain you for at least six months first. We’ve put together a list of 12 simple ways to save money without thinking about it.
1. Automatic Saving Through Your Bank
The difficulty with saving is you have to have the discipline to save. This can be difficult for certain people, which is why banks are increasingly setting up programs that will automatically deduct something from your account every month and deposit it in a savings account.
Some examples of this include the Discover Savings Account and the Bank of America’s Keep the Change Plan. These programs are tailored towards your specific needs, so you can lock that savings account and deduct as much as you like.
There are multiple ways in which these deductions can happen. First of all, you can deduct a certain portion of your pay check and automatically deposit it. Another way is to have money deposited in a savings account after every purchase. Your bank will keep track of this, so you don’t have to do any of the work.
2. Smartphone Apps Can Help You Keep A Budget
Sometimes simply taking a deduction from your monthly salary just isn’t enough. You’ll want to save more from the little purchases that you make on a daily basis. This can now happen through apps like Digit.
Digit is using the latest smart technology to help keep track of your spending habits. Every few days, Digit will analyze your bank account and determine how much money you can save. It will then deduct an appropriate amount and hold it in a separate account that can be withdrawn from at any time.
This is a new way to save because it uses the power of big data. Digit will use everything from the number of purchases to the size of your purchases. Over time it will analyze how regular your purchases are and how often a new portion of income hits your account. It’s an aggressive way to save that uses the latest technology to do so.
3. Start a Money Challenge
Money challenges tend to pop up around the start of the year, but there’s no reason why you can’t start one right now. Money challenges are an ideal way to save because they add an element of competition to proceedings. Completing one of these challenges with someone you know is a powerful motivator because you don’t want to let them down and you want to beat them.
There are many money saving challenges, but we recommend you keep it simple and go with the 52-week saving challenge. The challenge is simple. You aim to save a specific amount every week/month/year. That’s just one version of it.
Another version of the challenge is to save a portion of your income, or a specific amount per month, and to gradually increase this amount as the year goes on.
4. Save Your Loose Change
It’s easy to spend using your credit card because you’re not actually watching the money leave your account. This is why so much of America is experiencing high levels of credit card debt. Get back into the old habit of saving physical cash, rather than throwing it back into an account.
Save your coins in a jar and get used to throwing loose change into that jar whenever you have it. This can quickly add up as you break your large notes into smaller denominations. Put the jar in a place that can be easily accessed, such as on the kitchen counter or by the door.
Only empty the jar when it’s full or at the end of the year. Yet how do you combat the urge to raid your jar before then?
Use a container with a combination lock of some kind. It won’t stop you from raiding that jar if you really want to, but it might make you think twice before doing so.
5. Save in Percentages Not Amounts
Your income is going to go up and down as the years go on, but saving money should be a habit that endures through the highs and the lows. The best way to adjust your savings rates accordingly is to determine a percentage of your income that you will save as opposed to a specific dollar amount.
This will also help you to guard your savings efforts against inflation. If you pledge to save 50% of your income every year, that will remain no matter how much your income goes up. It will also help to guard against the temptation to increase your spending significantly should your income spike.
6. Stop Spending with the Envelope System
The envelope budgeting system is an old kind of system to help with budgeting and to help with saving. The old system involved creating an itemized budget. You would have a defined amount for groceries, your mortgage, entertainment, gas, and other things. The money would be placed in envelopes and labeled every month. That way you would only have access to the amounts in these envelopes.
Apps like Goodbudget are the electronic versions of the envelope budgeting system. The principle of the system remains the same, but it’s electronic and you’ll receive automatic alerts if you’re in danger of going over this spending limit.
Certain apps will even automatically save anything outside of this budgeting system.
7. Request Help from Your Company
Your employer doesn’t care which account they place your monthly salary into. Request that part of your monthly salary is paid directly into your savings account. Most employers will have no problem doing this.
It’s a powerful technique to save without thinking about it because you have to make a conscious effort to change it once you set it up. Just make sure you max out your 401(k) and other savings options available before you start saving directly. You need to make sure you’re taking advantage of those tax-free savings.
8. Lock Your Savings Accounts
Banking has never been easier, and now you have access to your account with the click of a button. This is usually done from a button on your smartphone and the transfer happens in seconds. It’s convenient, but it’s made saving money harder than ever before.
One way to make sure that your savings stay saved is to lock the account you put your savings into. This is why dedicated retirement savings accounts are so beneficial. You can still withdraw from them, but you have to pay high charges to do it, thus making it a poor financial decision. At the very least it will act as a deterrent.
9. Visualize Your Goals
Saving shouldn’t be a chore and it shouldn’t feel painful. The reason why people find it difficult to save up for an emergency fund is they have no motivation and it’s tedious. More often than not, they don’t have a specific dream in mind that they want to achieve. Visualize your goals with the help of apps like Unsplurge.
These apps help because they use visuals to help you focus on your goals. The key to saving without thinking about it is to have the motivation to do it. Without this motivation, it can easily feel like an uphill struggle.
10. Use Data from Your Budget
Saving money always goes back to keeping a sound budget. Serious savers will compromise on their standard of living in order to save more. That takes a lot of effort and a lot of discipline to manage. For most people, this is unacceptable and they don’t want to make such sacrifices.
There’s no reason why you have to make those sacrifices. Apps like Daily Budget will use your recurring expenses to calculate exactly how much you’re spending and how much you have left over. You decide how much of that remaining money you want to save every day, week, and month.
11. Invest to Double Your Savings
Savings will always lose value over time because of inflation. This is the biggest threat to your long-term wealth, so you need to think about how to grow your existing savings fund. With interest rates from banks at an all-time low, it’s important that you invest as well as save.
Saving and investing at the same time has never been simpler. Take the Acorns app as a prime example of this. Acorns works exactly the same way as many of the savings apps mentioned in this guide. But instead of transferring the money to a savings account, the app invests it in a low-risk ETF.
Your returns will only be a few percentage points every year, but this will prevent you from suffering too much under the effects of inflation. If you’re confident in your financial abilities, you may want to consider taking your savings and periodically investing them manually, but this does come with greater risks.
So what’s a good example of smart saving and smart investing?
Investors generally look for a good 5% return on a relatively conservative portfolio every year before inflation is taken into account. A regular saver may get less than 1% from their usual savings account, so unless you’re getting some tax benefits it makes no sense to leave it there.
Look for a no or low-commission online broker and stick to ETFs and tracker funds. That way you’ll be protected against any major movements in the markets. A smart saver will avoid single stocks so they’re sufficiently diversified.
Stash is a new investment advisory app that allows you to invest for as little as $5 at a time. What’s great about this app is that there’s no commission fees and you can buy partial shares of a stock or security. Best of all is that they recommend what you should invest in based on your income type.
You don’t need a financial advisor to help you with this. Stick to popular funds that follow the largest companies and industries. This will ensure that your risk is low with sufficient returns available. Over time, the power of compounding will push your savings fund higher and higher with minimal effort on your part.
12. Join an Online Support Group
Community support can help you in a number of ways. Joining an online saving community on boards like Reddit and other dedicated websites can offer a lot of benefits.
For a start, you will be able to post your goals and get feedback on how you’re doing. Sometimes you need an objective point of view to find out whether you’re really making the most of what you have. Cleaning up the flaws in your savings plan can save you hundreds of dollars every year.
You also gain the advantage of emotional support. Saving isn’t always easy. In an emergency, you may worry about how you can keep up your good habits. With the help of saving experts found online, you’ll be able to push through and ensure that you stay the course.
These methods will ensure that you can save money without putting in too much effort in. Combine them together and you’ll have a goal, a plan, and the motivation to push through in the long-term.
Build up strong spending habits and you’ll be ready for whatever lies ahead. If you have a plan on how to save money that’s not on this list, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!