Saving money is potentially one of the skills that, if mastered, you could have the biggest benefit from. I know I am terrible at saving money unless I have a specific goal ahead like a holiday or a sexy new piece of tech I’d like to drop a couple of grand on. Otherwise, I have found myself on the saving treadmill that just doesn’t seem to get me anywhere financially. If this is sounding pretty familiar to you, let me tell you that there is hope. I have spent years (and way too much money) trying to come up with a system that can make saving money a breeze without having to whip up a spreadsheet or even downloading those fancy apps that track my spending.
Transfer money to a family member or a friend you trust.
What you are doing is putting this money in someone else’s bank account (dedicated to your savings, of course) that denies you access to it until the saving period is up. It goes without saying that you need to do this with someone that you trust as they will be keeping your money for you. I did this when I was trying to save for a Europe trip a few years ago. At the beginning of the month, I would transfer $300 to my mum who kept my money in a high-interest account which allowed me to save $3,600 + interest earned in a year. Back in the day, this amount was enough to travel for a whole year!
Automate transfers to a high-interest account you don’t touch
Automating your savings is one of the smartest things you can do. Let’s say you get paid on the 15th and you automate a transfer to a high-interest account every 17th of the month. Regardless of the amount, you will be putting money aside every month which will just increase your savings and not having to “actively” do this every month means that you will automatically be removing all obstacles to start saving. And if you don’t trust yourself to not touch your savings account, you can combine point 1 and 2 of this article. Saving will become as natural to you as breathing.
Set some goals and make them visible
One of the most effective things you can do to help your drive to stop unnecessary spending is setting goals. Let’s say you want to save for a holiday to Mexico next year and you want to do it without having to go on a rigorous budget. Well all you have to do is make the places in Mexico you want to visit as visible as possible, set them as screensavers on your phone and your laptop, print them out on stick them on your wall in your bedroom, get some stickers and stick them on your partner’s forehead, any way you get the gist of it. The point is that you will be reminded of your goal every time you want to make unnecessary purchases. These little reminders will help you nudge your purchase decisions so they take you closer to be sipping on those margarita fishbowls by the beach in Cancun.
Use more cash
Behavioural economists have studied in depth the human inability to make rational decisions when it comes to spending our money. The research shows that detaching the pain of paying (exchanging cold-hard cash for a good) by tapping with our cards or phone to pay for something makes it very easy for us to spend mindlessly. So, it’s not you, it’s your credit card conspiring against you! Cash has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to spend only on things that we really want.
Separate your spending account from your savings account
This is as basic and lazy as it gets, and an old trick from the behavioural psychology book. What you want to do here is tap on the good old “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Ideally, you want to have a bank account for bills, entertainment and savings, but this could prove a bit too complicated so we will only suggest you put away your savings in an account you can’t touch to spend.
You always want to keep your savings in a high-interest bank account separate from your spending account. This will help you in two ways. First, the bank will essentially pay you for saving; the more money you keep in the bank the more you will be rewarded. Second, it takes out of sight the money you could potentially be tempted to use once you are a couple of tequila shots down or whenever a juicy sale is sprung on you.