With wages down and cost of goods up, it’s not easy to save. After years of savings rates close to zero however, Americans are getting smart about their money again: even though the economy is still in a rough spot, we’re saving an average of 6.4%, according to June data from the U.S. Commerce Department. Not bad, but if you’re like most people, you would probably like to do better. Here are five ways to trick yourself into saving more
1. Go On Autopilot
Ever heard the phrase, “pay yourself first?” It’s the best trick to get into the habit of saving: when you pay your bills come payday, budget for your savings just like it’s another bill you’re paying. Set up separate accounts for emergency savings (for when the car breaks down, or the water heater breaks), retirement and for more fun goals like that family vacation.
Make your savings a no-brainer by setting up an automatic transfer to the account(s) on payday, so you’re not tempted to spend the money elsewhere. Even if you just set up $20 a bi-monthly paycheck, that still adds up to $480 a year – and you probably won’t even miss it. As you get used to saving, try increasing the automatic savings by a little bit every six months. (A recent HSBC study suggests that savers had an easier time weathering the recent financial storm.
2. Keep the Change
Remember that big jar of change you had in your college dorm room? Bring it back into fashion, and empty your wallet of change a few times a week. Get the family involved; if you have kids, have them draw a picture of what you’ll do with the money once the jar is full. Exchange the coins for bills at your local bank for a small fee, or use one of the coin exchange machines in the supermarket – check around to make sure your savings don’t get cut too much by exchange fees.
Keeping your change over the course of a year can easily add up to a few hundred dollars in savings – another painless way to save. And you’ll really grow to love those pennies that used to clutter up your wallet.