Are you puzzled by the fact that there are some people out there who actually think saving money is fun? How can they possibly make such a game out of something so boring? It’s easier than you think: the trick is to do it in a way that makes you happy.
Perhaps you see people out there living their lives without cable. They haven’t gotten a haircut in six months. They don’t bother with the latest trends. What is up with them? you might wonder. There’s no way you would be happy living like that.
The truth is, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. While some people are perfectly fine living a life with less, that lifestyle may not be the right one for you. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make saving money easier!
Figure Out What You Need
The first step to making saving easier is knowing how much you need. List your goals and how much money you need to fund each.
Since this post is more focused on the different methods of saving, we’re only going to briefly cover the basics. You need to make sure that you’re at least saving something every month, and the easiest way to do this is to take your monthly expenses and subtract them from your income.
Hopefully, that number will be a positive one, but if not, the below tips will still help to improve your savings rate.
How to Stick With Saving
This is where most people stumble. We’re not going to cover budgeting in this post, because while it does make saving easier, it’s secondary to what some people need to focus on. If you have trouble with impulse spending, budgeting isn’t going to magically cure you of that.
Instead, we’re going to cover some techniques that will help you stick to your savings plan, allowing you to save what you need to every month to meet your goals.
Visualize: One technique to use is called the visualization technique. This involves putting a reminder right in front of you at all times to ward off the temptation to spend. So if you want to visit Italy in the next year, and are saving up to take that trip, print out your favorite picture of Italy and stick it everywhere. Wrap it around your credit or debit card, put it in the cash section of your wallet, make it your home screen picture on your phone, and your desktop picture on your computer.
The point is, wherever you are, the picture will be, too. When you’re tempted to spend on something, you’ll be reminded that it’s money being taken away from your trip. You’ll have to decide which is more important – your purchase, or your desire to go to Italy.
Take Baby Steps: There are some people that like to advocate cutting absolutely everything and anything, leaving you with nothing to spend on outside of what is necessary. Unless you know yourself well enough to determine you’ll be happy with the simple and free things in life (probably not, since you’re reading this!), don’t take this advice.
You need to save slowly in order to keep your motivation going. If cable makes you happy, and you believe 100% it is worth what you’re paying for it, then keep paying for it. No one has the right to tell you otherwise. Just be aware of what you’re sacrificing by continuing to pay for it.
Likewise, think over all the expensive habits you might have, and evaluate each and every one of them. If you get a mani-pedi on a monthly basis, is it possible to go bi-monthly? Are you eating out 10 times a month? Try dialing it back to 8. Saving does not require an all or nothing approach!
Pay Yourself First: If you struggle to keep money in your bank account throughout the month, and often find yourself with nothing left over, you might want to consider paying yourself first. This simply involves taking a set amount out of your paycheck before you pay for anything else, and transferring it to your savings account.
To go along with this, it might help to have specific savings accounts and to set up automatic transfers. If you have multiple things you’re saving for, start a separate savings account for each. It’s easier to see where you are with your progress this way, rather than having all the money lumped into a single account.
Automatic transfers take the thought out of saving. It’s painless and effortless, what more could you want? The only thing to note is that you should make sure the money stays in your savings account until you’ve hit your goal and can spend the money on what it was intended for. Make it as difficult as possible to withdraw the funds if you think you might be tempted by it.
Be Flexible: Give yourself an allowance of fun money each month, this way you have something to look forward to. This is especially important if you’re trying to save and pay down debt. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over purchases. It’s good to recognize mistakes, but it’s better to get back on the horse and continue riding.
These are just a few things you can do to make saving easier on yourself. Remember not to compare yourself to others. Put yourself first, hang around those that are supportive of your new saving habits, and don’t get caught up in the little things.