It’s not only in times of high inflation, rising gas prices, and increasing job uncertainty that you may find yourself having to save money. Oftentimes, setting savings goals for the end of the year may seem easily achievable at first, but can become increasingly difficult as time moves on.
Especially when you’re battling debt, you may find yourself lying in bed awake at night, trying to figure out how to achieve your savings goals with only a few months remaining. Don’t worry if you’re looking at the calendar and you can’t see the clear path forward. In this article I want you share with you five clever money saving tips that will make it easy to save money consistently without feeling overwhelmed!
Let’s dive right in.
1. Visualize Your Savings Goals
The first step is to create a visual representation of what you’re saving towards. I know it may sound ridiculous at first, but this is one of those clever money saving tips that most people overlook. Visualizing your goals can have an enormous impact on your motivation. That’s why professional athletes use this technique to achieve some of their biggest accomplishments. If you only rely on your willpower to save money, you risk losing sight of the bigger picture.
Even though you’re still required to exercise financial discipline in order to save money, you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you create a physical representation of your goals that inspires and motivates you. Let’s say you’re saving for a vacation, then a visual reminder could be a photo of the place you’re planning on visiting. And if you’re planning to buy a house, set a photo of your dream home as the desktop background of your computer.
Since unexpected windfalls, such as a bonus payment, a lottery win, or an inheritance are rare, the money you need to achieve your dreams has to come from somewhere else. Your visual reminder helps to keep you on track and reminds you that you’re not just saying “no” to everything non-essential. Instead, you’re saying “yes” to what’s actually important to you.
2. Break Down Your Savings Goal
Thinking about the enormous figure you’re saving towards can seem overwhelming at times. In order to make achieving this goal more manageable, you should break it down into smaller pieces. So instead of creating just one big savings goal for the year, start setting a savings goal for every week. This will help you to save money more consistently, which is a great financial habit to adopt.
The big advantage of time-based money saving tips like this one is that you don’t need to save the same amount of money every week. Since your expenses fluctuate between weeks, you can adjust your savings rate accordingly. Over time and with the required financial discipline you will manage to save a lot more money than without a weekly savings goal.
And even if you’re not able to save as much during one week, you will feel less anxious about it. You will simply bring up your savings rate the following week when you’ve got fewer bills to pay. It’s clever money saving tips like these that can adjust to your own situation yet still work wonders for your personal finances.
3. Track and Analyze Your Finances
As with other quantifiable goals, you need to track their progress in order to know how you’re doing. When your goal is to save money, having a system that allows you to track your income and expenses can be helpful in analyzing saving potentials. While tracking every dollar you make and spend sounds rather tedious, it can easily be automated using apps and online services.
Free apps such as Mint and PocketGuard make it possible to check on all of your accounts in under two minutes. Having an app fetch, organize, and visualize all of your numbers allows you to answer the most important questions at a glance:
- How are your savings doing?
- How is your cash flow?
- How are things with your bills?
- Do you need to make cut backs?
However, having a budgeting app on your phone doesn’t mean you’ll also remember to use it. Set a reminder on your phone to check your personal finance app once a day to make sure you’re keeping up with your savings goals. Getting a good overview of your finances should only take a couple of minutes and will allow you to focus on the bigger picture.
Making use of free budgeting apps and setting a reminder to check them frequently are clever money saving tips that many overlook when it comes to simplifying their finances.
These apps collect all of your financial data and visualize the numbers for you. This makes it extremely easy to evaluate what you’re doing well and what areas you need to pay more attention to. If you haven’t already, be sure to install a budgeting app on your phone today!
4. Gamify Your Savings
I understand that the idea of restricting your expenses to save money may not sound particularly exciting to most of you. In order to make it more appealing, think of it as a game in which you can win real prizes. By gamifying your savings goals, you will remain motivated to stick to your plan while also feeling good about not spending your money.
Here’s how you can make this work by using one of the better-known money saving tips as an example: Instead of simply setting a savings goal of $100 for the month, you can do a month-long money challenge that involves you making your own coffee instead of buying it on your way to work. Completing this money challenge can also make you reevaluate the benefit you get from store-bought coffee. As a result, you may continue making your own coffee in the morning instead of buying it, thereby creating a new money habit that will benefit your finances in the long run.
I’ve personally done a number of these money challenges and always enjoyed them. They’re fun to do and only necessary for a limited time. These types of sprints let you get a little more intense with your savings for a short period before taking a break and reevaluating your spending habits.
If you’re still unsure how gamifying your savings can work, here are some of the money challenges I’ve completed:
- $0 Challenge: If you’re hesitant about making cut backs, this is the challenge for you as it doesn’t require any changes to your spending habits. Instead, simply keep track of what you spend each day and how many days you spend absolutely nothing. When I first did this, it really opened my eyes to all of the little things I spend money on that really add up by the end of the month. I bet that if you give this challenge a try, you’ll spend less money the following month!
- $30 Date Night: Think about your college days and look for activities to enjoy a fun and memorable night without emptying your wallet. This doesn’t have to mean heating a frozen pizza and sharing a cheap bottle of wine on the couch. Look up free or inexpensive ways to enjoy a night out in your area. You may be surprised what some cities have to offer!
- $465 in 30 Days Challenge: If you’re ready to really focus in on your savings goals and possibly even establish an emergency fund, this is the challenge for you! Start out by putting $1 in an envelope on the first day, then $2 on the second, $3 on the third, and so on. While it may not look like much in the beginning, by the time you put the last $30 in that envelope on the last day, you’ll have saved up $465. Maybe you’ll feel especially motivated at that point so you can add in the remaining $35 to make it an even $500.
If you have a partner or children, let them be part of the fun as well! A little friendly competition in the family might help to motivate everyone and show your kids that you’re serious about saving. It also teaches them the value of money in a fun way.
5. Automate Your Savings
The last in this short series of clever money saving tips that I want to share with you is also one of the best financial habits to adopt in general. In order to make sure that the money you’ve saved actually ends up in your savings account, you should automate and schedule these types of transfers.
Once you’ve saved up a certain amount by reducing your spending, make sure to actually transfer it into your savings account. Additional savings, such as a discount you got from politely reaching out to your cable provider, vehicle insurance, or mobile phone company, should also be transferred into your savings account. The best way to accomplish this is by setting up automated transfers that are scheduled in regular intervals.
Separating your savings from your checking account will help you overcome the temptation of spending the money you set aside. It will also aid you in keeping track of all the money you’ve saved. Make sure to save money in a high-yield savings account, if you want the added benefit of being paid interest on the money you’ve saved.
After putting the third of these clever money saving tips into practice, the budgeting apps will give you a better understanding of how much money you actually need to get by each month. Equipped with this knowledge you can set up automatic transfers every time you get paid, thereby reducing the money you have left over for your non-essential expenses.
This concept is commonly known as “paying yourself first” and has allowed many to pay off their debts, establish an emergency fund, and save up a nest egg in a relatively short time. Following in the same footsteps as those who’ve walked this path before you will enable you to reach the same savings goals.
When you make saving a habit and learn how to save money consistently, it will open up a world of possibilities for you. Give these clever money saving tips a try and see how they can benefit you. By putting what you’ve learned into practice you can finish this year financially strong and be well on your way to your next major savings goals!