Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /usr/www/users/csnell/budgetways/wp-content/plugins/byob-thesis-simple-header-widgets/byob-thesis-simple-header-widgets.php:55) in /usr/www/users/csnell/budgetways/wp-content/plugins/easy-contact/econtact.php on line 112

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /usr/www/users/csnell/budgetways/wp-content/plugins/byob-thesis-simple-header-widgets/byob-thesis-simple-header-widgets.php:55) in /usr/www/users/csnell/budgetways/wp-content/plugins/easy-contact/econtact.php on line 112
5 Ways To Trick Yourself To Save Money

5 Ways To Trick Yourself To Save Money

Breaking news: frugality doesn’t mean austerity and saving doesn’t have to mean sacrificing. If saving is a dreaded chore like going to the gym, eating more vegetables or visiting the in-laws, you can still save without needing superhuman willpower. Here are five ways to trick yourself into saving more money.  You can also check out our list of favorite ways to save money.

1. Make it automatic
Have money taken out of each paycheck and put into your 401k automatically. Automatic means you don’t have to think about it to do it; effort and decision making is minimal. The same strategy can build a savings account with automatic transfer from each paycheck. Now your default setting for your finances is saving, not spending. Another habit to save: once you finally pay off your credit card debt or finish making car payments, make payments of the same amount to your savings account instead.

2. Save your windfalls
Did you come across some extra money this month, like an unexpectedly large tax refund, a bonus at work or twenty in your winter jacket pocket? Save it. It might seem small or you might reason that you can use it to indulge because it’s not coming out of your regular budget, but the money will do much more for you if you save it. If you really can’t resist a treat, save half and spend half, but once you see the power of interest growing your savings over time, the pull of the fancy restaurant, the movie theater or the new shoes won’t stand up to the long-term reward.

learn to trick yourself into saving money3. Play mind games
When it comes to saving, psychology is working against you. Your brain chemistry encourages instant gratification over long-term gains. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back. If you buy on impulse, set a rule of separation; wait a day or two after seeing an item you want before buying. Chances are you will decide that you really don’t need it or even forget about it completely. Another way to bolster your defenses against overspending is to make a custom sleeve for your cash and credit cards that will remind you why you’re saving. A quote that motivates you, a picture of your dream home, the slogan of the home business you’ve been wanting to start or any other reminder of your big goals will make the abstract more tangible and help you think twice about your spending.

4. Have consequences for failure
Fear of failure can be a powerful motivation. Here’s where you can enlist the help of friends, family or coworkers to hold you accountable. Set a reasonable goal for saving and a consequence if you don’t meet that goal. Tell your significant other that failure means you will watch a movie of his or her choice without complaint. Love to talk politics? Say that losing means you have to donate a specified amount of money to a party whose views you oppose. Anything that makes failure hurt will help you succeed.

5. Reward yourself by saving
Positive reinforcement helps you stick to a goal, so recognize when you are spending less and save it consciously. When you brown-bag your lunch, put the cash you would have spent going out into a savings jar. Same for home brew coffee vs coffee house spending and a movie at home instead of the theater.

Saving doesn’t have to be a raincloud over your head or a constant worry. Keep it simple and you’ll be saving with ease.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • MoniqueSeibel August 22, 2012, 4:32 pm

    This is a really good list. My will power with saving money is sometimes so strong, but then the Ikea catalog comes in the mail and I instantly want everything. But your right, in that eventually I just forgot about what I even wanted to buy, and it only further illustrates how much I didn’t need the item in the first place. Like you’ve said, it also helps just to keep in mind, most of the purchase I’ve made on impulse, were items I didn’t need and don’t end up using. Having money in your savings account actually feels much more rewarding than any single purchase.

    • ACSAPA September 1, 2012, 4:51 am

      I LOVE the IKEA catalog. But their catalog is valid for an entire year, so that gives you a long time to think about the items you like and you usually decide you can do without certain items after you’ve had time to sleep on it and the initial impulse to buy wears off.

  • dhintaka August 23, 2012, 3:47 am

    Interesting article! I really like the first two points. I also believe that sometimes saving needs to be forced & that can happen when we have automatic saving as an option. This works best. How much needs to be put on recurring deposit is something that one can choose, but we must do something. Every penny counts. In our crucial moment, this collection can be very helpful. Saving is something that should be cultivated in our lives. Sometimes we feel that there’s no need to do it as everything around looks good & stable. Here is where we go wrong. We should never go for impulsive shopping. We must always plan & shop. This helps us to buy things that we require the most & also control or cost.

  • S.O. Price August 25, 2012, 9:22 pm

    I have another way to trick yourself. Have a garage sale. Once you tally up all the items that you already own and don’t use AND spend an enormous amount of time preparing for the garage sale, you’ll realize the error of overspending.

    I just spent an entire week preparing for my yard sale and yesterday I sold about 1/3 of everything I had for sale. Some of the items had been stored away for 3 years. I did not miss any of it. I just wish I had sold closer to 100%!

    • Classic NYer October 28, 2012, 12:55 pm

      Another way to get this same effect is to move, haha! I just recently had to make two very quick and sudden moves in a row, and the act of packing up all of my stuff and then unpacking all of my stuff made me acutely aware of how much stuff I have that I don’t need. I’m soon going to have to do a purging, which will probably come in the form of a sidewal sale (because I don’t have a garage).

  • dawn August 25, 2012, 9:22 pm

    This is a good list, such simple strategies to implement. I just recently started to “pay myself” as they call it, I’ve set up a few automatic savings account, and every time my cheque is deposit a percentage is taken away. So far I believe this is one of the best ways to start saving, I also hadn’t thought about making payments in the same amount as previous credit card payments or such, that’s a good idea as well. Playing mind games on impulsive buys i like, even though I’m not a impulsive shopper at all, its a good strategy. However for some one to start setting up systems, consciously start setting up systems, I believe they really need to understand how money works, in relations to them the tiny individual and their economy or the bigger picture as a whole. I believe with a good sound knowledge of how money moves, maybe then will people really want to start tackle their impulses and try to save. I only say this after observing friends of mine who seem to be such impulsive shoppers, at the age of 25 why to them would saving be important. (not saying it isnt, because i feel it strongly is.)

  • FirstBaby2011 August 26, 2012, 10:47 pm

    While my husband and I regularly practice these tips, I sometimes struggle with windfalls. Although we usually save most if not all of any unexpected money that comes our way, I have to constantly remind myself of why we are saving that money instead of spending it on luxuries that we have been denying ourselves. Constantly reviewing and “seeing” our goals for the future is what pulls me through those trying moments.

  • iampeebs August 28, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I only use cash and I refuse to spend my change even if it’s in my wallet. When I think of it, I dump it into a huge vase. When the vase is full, I will start a new one and so on and so forth. We also are in a state that has can redemption, so we save our cans and bring them in when the garage is full. We are currently saving cans to get a new computer!

  • KennyK August 29, 2012, 3:34 am

    Nice points made here, it’s a good start for people who have a hard time saving. There are a few tactics that I already apply. First of all, I have a nice piggy bank that I use to only collect coins of 1 or 2 euro. So whenever I pay somewhere and get change, I’ll save part of those coins. Of course I keep some of them in my wallet in case I have to do small payments, but every few days I might put some in my piggy bank. The purpose of it is clear, I save the coins until it’s full enough. Then I take it out, count it, and will put a percentage of the total amount straight into my bank account, usually around 50-75 percent. The rest of the money will be used to reward myself. I can give myself a treat, buy a gift for someone, or a new CD, book, anything that I’d like to have and that I can afford with that money.

    I also try to prepare my own lunch when I go to work. Compared with eating out or even just going out for a sandwich (which costs 2.50-4 euros), I can eat lunch for cheap (usually bread with cheese, jam, ham, some nuts, yoghurt,etc). It can easily make me save around 40-50 euro or more per month. In one year, that’s a nice amount of money. For that money, I can even go on a holiday for two weeks if I get a nice last-minute or special offer 🙂

  • Jameson August 30, 2012, 2:15 pm

    As others have stated, throwing your change into a jar actually does have a huge impact. My friends laugh that I pay in cash for everything and will ocassionaly have a pocket full coins, but I can’t help it! At the end of every month, I roll and deposit the change into a savings account. It is a nice added bonus or boost to see my numbers go up at the end of the month, especially as I’m setting the budget for next month! These little incremental motivators have a huge impact on me.

    In the past, I’ve tried to make incentives for exercise by allotting a dollar a day. If I exercise, go for a run, or anything of the sort, I put a dollar in my “spend” envelope. If I don’t, I put a dollar in my “save” envelope. The “spend” envelope can be for a night on the town, or anything that I haven’t budgeted for. The “save” goes towards either paying down debt or straight into a savings account. You can use these little things, just as the author said, in order to make incentives for brown-bagging lunch and even making your own coffee. It really helps!

  • ACSAPA September 1, 2012, 4:54 am

    I read an article that suggested creating a sense of urgency for saving money by pretending you’re about to get evicted in a month. You would amaze yourself with how much money you can find to put aside when you’re afraid of ending up on the street.
    That goes perfectly with tip #3 of this article “Play mind games.” If you think you have unlimited time to save money, then you’ll always find excuses not to.

  • stu September 2, 2012, 7:16 pm

    I’ve used the rule of separation before. I used it when I wanted to lose some weight, and would have trouble with staying on my diet. I would give myself time to really think about what would happen if I started eating junk food again. The thought of being unhappy, and remaining out of shape made me want to eat something healthy instead. This tactic will also apply to saving money. You’ll be motivated to save more, so you can eventually purchase that thing that caught your eye.

  • muelan September 4, 2012, 9:52 pm

    I totally agree that paying cash for everything is a great way to trick yourself to save more money. Its harder to part with that cash than to swipe that debit or credit card. We are on a really tight budget so this is what we do for groceries. Otherwise its too easy for me overspend on food. Great tips…and a good reminder that every little bit of savings counts.

  • deannatroupe September 5, 2012, 7:08 pm

    These are excellent tips. I like how you suggested that we have to trick our minds to save money. I actually look for change everywhere. I’ve got my family trained to bring me the pennies they see (since it all goes back to them anyway). I really like the idea of getting your spouse involved by promising to watch a movie of their choice without grumbling. Just the idea of watching one of those Harry Potter movies makes me want to cringe.

  • FlanneryCam September 23, 2012, 2:04 pm

    I tried the “make it automatic” scheme for a while. And yes, it did help me save. In fact, the automatic savings were part of the reason that I managed to pay for my MA degree without going too far into debt. And to be honest, I didn’t even notice the money leaving my account.

    It gets harder, however, when you have a job like say, as a server in a restaurant. If you get your hands on your cash before your bank account does, automatic savings don’t work very well. Talking from experience, of course! I really wish that I had found a way to get more of my take-home tips into my bank account. Mostly because my paycheck was so small that an automated savings program wasn’t helping at that point.

  • jae98 September 27, 2012, 9:29 am

    I love the idea of the “make it automatic” option. In the past, I have used this option. I had it set where they would take a certain amount out of my bi-weekly pay check and I would not miss out on it. But I knew that it was where I needed it to be.

    The second option is very helpful as well. My side hustle is doing hair. If I make extra cash for doing a head or two or three, I would put that money in the bank or stash it in a jar for laundry and gas.

    Options three and four are so true. It is a psychology thing. We have to think what the consequences or failures are before we decide to splurge on unnecessary things. I am a shoe fanatic. If I see a shoe I love, in the past, I felt I had to have it, no doubts played in my mind. But now, I have to think is it a need to have that shoe? NO! I can that money away or pay a bill ahead if I know I am not going to be able to stretch it next month.

    The last option “Reward myself by saving” If you add up how much you spend on eating out for lunch, you would be so surprised how much you could have saved. Bring left overs from dinner or make a sandwich or homemade salad. I use to spend over $150 a month on eating out for breakfast and lunch. I start putting over $150 dollars extra away in my savings by not eating out. If I wanted to eat out I would only do maybe 1 or 2 Fridays out of a month.

  • emerillus October 10, 2012, 2:08 am

    I’m glad I read about these tips. I simply could not make it “automatic” because I have a lot to spend on and I also have a loan at out local cooperative. I’ll definitely follow your tip as soon as I finish paying my loan. Once a month I get incentives from our company but as soon as I receive them the money would usually go to various baby needs and I don’t know where else. I know it is now time to save money and revoke my bad spending habits.

  • riccig123 October 15, 2012, 2:42 pm

    This is a great list. I personally do an excellent job of saving and staying on a budget…for a while…then, I inevitably rebel and end up blowing a lot of my hard-earned (hard saved?) money. One thing that helps me to reign in this impulse is to allow myself (and my husband) a certain amount of “fun money” each week or month. Even if it is only a small amount, not having to be accountable for every.single.penny. can certainly help boost one’s mental fortitude when it comes to saving money and staying on a budget!

  • LoveSanta October 18, 2012, 7:57 pm

    Some great tips in there. I love number 5 – making it visual that you are saving money.

    If you keep ‘going without’ but can’t see the benefits of it , it can get boring and feel like an imposition. But if every time you save you can see the savings mount it, it is much more motivating so you’re more likely to stick to your plan. Excellent!

    For avoiding instant gratification, instead of just delaying it a day I sometimes tell myself to go hoem and look it up online – if I cna’t find it cheaper elsewhere then I can decide to go back to where I saw it.

  • GSBryce November 16, 2012, 6:31 pm

    After I got my first job, before everything was electronic, I kept a register of EVERYTHING. However, if I spent $5.67 on fast food, I would enter it in my register as $6.00. I did this for anything and everything I spend money on. I always had more money in my account than I thought. It was an easy way to save a little cash here and there. I also never had to worry about over drawing my account because there was always a cushion.

  • cefmac July 11, 2013, 5:39 am

    I think number 3 is a really important point. I can be a bit of an impulse buyer at times, especially when it comes to clothes, but I think I could learn a lot and save quite a bit of cash if I applied the “will you still want this in two days?” mentality. I can’t count the number of times I’ve fallen for an item of clothing but resisted buying it, only to have completely forgotten it by the next day! The tip about having a cash pocket with a picture or quote on it is also a great tip and one I might need to try – I’m hoping to travel quite a bit next summer so the extra reminder every time I go to my purse would probably help me save up a tidy sum!


Leave a Comment