Savings may be slipping through your fingers, even if you are living paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps not in the denominations that you were hoping for (wouldn’t it be nice to sock away a few thousand dollars every month into an account you own?), but if you’re like me, you’ll take any extra savings you can get.
Saving money—actually depositing money into a bank account that won’t be touched in the short-term—happens when both the physical and mental elements are right. What do I mean by this? A healthy savings account does not just manifest by itself. If a person makes a decent income but sees no benefit in saving any of it, then savings will not automatically accumulate. Conversely, if a person is a natural-born saver but is struggling to make ends meet, then it will be difficult to accumulate money as well.
You need both an income as well as a savings mentality in order to build up your money.Saving money happens when both the physical and mental elements are right. Click To Tweet
Fortunately, both of these areas can be improved upon, potentially even without securing a second or third job and even without sacrificing many of your wants today. Below are a few tricks that you can use to overcome both barriers—mental and physical—and get more of your hard-earned paycheck into your bank account.
Give Your Savings Account a Pet Name
Do you know what your savings means to you? Yes, it means more money. But what else? Some possibilities include financial security, financial independence, seed money for a different kind of life, travel, retirement freedom, etc. Online banks generally allow you to give each of your accounts a nickname, so take the opportunity to give it a pet name that invokes some emotions in you. Say, “Freedom Fund”, “Seed Money”, “Declaration of Independence”, or really anything that makes you want to stash money in it more than the generic “Account: X123456789” will.
Challenge Yourself Past What You Thought You Could Save
Running does not come natural to me. It never has, though after six months of consistently doing it 2-3 times per week I find myself wanting to do it more. Because it’s not natural for me, I play a mental trick on myself that has stretched me much farther than I would normally run. When I run, as I get to the end of where I typically stop running, I start egging myself on just a little bit further. I might tell myself “when I get to that next tree, I’ll stop”. After I reach that tree, I mentally declare, “when I get to the next light pole I’ll be finished”, then, “I’ve made it this far, might as well go to the end of that bench.” Adding a little onto the end when I am in the zone already stretches me past where I thought I could go.
Once you have figured out how much you can save each month, challenge yourself to do a little more. If you have earmarked $100 for savings, why not do $110, or $120? Then as this amount becomes your new norm, stretch yourself again. Make it to $140, or $150. Once you figure out you still survived without the extra money to spend, saving the higher amount will become a regular habit.
Save All of Your Change
Paul and I love to travel. Typically we do not purchase lots of souvenirs (we’d rather spend the money on more travel). However, on our honeymoon to Austria in 2010, I fell in love with a cow piggybank. We spent the $20 and traveled all the way from Salzburg back to Houston with it—ceramic ears and tail intact. Ever since then we’ve put all of our “silver” change into its belly. A little under three years later we cashed it in for the first time for $93.01 of money we had never missed. Cha-ching!
Set Aside Every Dollar Bill that Crosses Your Path
Just like you can save all of your change in a jar, you could also save each $1 bill (or coin) that crosses your path. These may not fit well into a piggybank, so instead you could take a shoe box and stuff them in there. Once every six months count it up and take it to the bank (or sooner if you happen to have a lot of dollar bills).
Skim a Little off Work Reimbursements
If your company is as slow as my husband’s in reimbursing you, then chances are you have already found a way to cover the amount spent before the money comes in. While you may need some of the reimbursement check to put back into savings or cover your bills, try to skim some off the top to put straight into savings. This works even better if you use your own vehicle and get reimbursed by the mile, as you will make a small profit. The extra is meant to reimburse you for future car repairs, so it’s a good idea to save this money anyway.
Bank Referral Credits by Leveraging Your Social Network
Many of us have a social network online or in person. If there is a service you enjoy using, be sure to tell your family and friends about it. You can look in your account and see if there is a way for you to get credit for referring someone to the service. Include a link when you post on Facebook, email, or any other form (and tell them upfront that you receive a benefit for them signing up under you). Many referral links also give the opportunity for the person signing up to get something special as well. For example, ING Direct (now Capital One 360) used to give $25 to the person signing up for a new savings account, and $10 to the referrer. It’s a win-win!
Take your extra referral credits and put them into your savings account. You may need to offset the cost to do this. As an example, if you receive a credit on your bill for the referral bonus, then put that same amount of money from checking into your savings account.
What are some ways that you have found to stash away extra money? Please share to benefit everyone!