Saving more money is one of those big goals that a lot of people have, but get stuck. I know this because we use to be right there too. The year would fly by and we were nowhere near our goal. With a few months left, we’d scramble to figure out how to knock it out. It took some time, but we figured out a system that allowed us to reach our big savings target even if we had spent a little bit more than we expected during the summer break. If you’re looking at the calendar and are struggling to see a path forward, have no worries. Here are five ways you can become a better saver!
Create a Visual Reminder of your Goal
The first step is to create a visual reminder of what you’re saving up for. Yes, you do have to have discipline with saving but you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you create things to motivate you and push you through. Visual reminders are a fantastic way to do that. If you’re saving for a trip take a picture of the destination you guys are going to.
If you’re trying to buy a house soon, then have your screensaver be a picture of what you’d love to buy. Why? Because like it or not, the reality is the money you need for your goal has to come from somewhere. And unless you’re expecting a huge bonus, winning the lotto, or getting an inheritance, that money will come from you and your budget. Your picture allows you to remember you’re not just saying no to a bunch of things. you’re instead saying yes to what matters to you.
Set Weekly Savings Goals
The second step is to choose a savings goal for the week. That’s it.
Sometimes we look at this huge number and we get intimidated, but if you break it down into smaller bits it’s much more manageable. You’ll be more motivated to follow through.
Go ahead and break it into a weekly goal how much money are you going to save this week. Whether it’s $100, $50, or even $20, if you can maintain it, you can save a significant amount every month.
This method is also good because week to week things change. Maybe this week you’re not going to save as much but you’re not stressed out.
It happens. Because you’re looking at it weekly, though, you don’t feel defeated because you know next week you’re going to save a little bit more because it’s a quieter week.
Track and Review Your Money
The third step is to have a way to track and review your money. Here’s where you can get excited – you can have it practically done for you. How?
Apps like Mint or through your own personal bank that make it so simple to check on your finances in about five minutes. I’m not kidding. When we switched over to having an app pull our numbers, things just became so much easier. How are our savings? What’s our cash flow? How are we doing with bills? Do we need to cut back on something?
These were questions used to take a ton of time to figure out. Now, it’s just opening up our phone and checking the numbers in real-time. It allows us to save time on the tedious stuff and instead focus on the big picture.
Mint is a very handy tool that not only grabs the numbers but makes it very easy to see what you’re doing well with and what areas you need to keep an eye on.
Make Savings a Game
Listen, I understand – sometimes (okay most times) the idea of saving money is exciting. Which is why I highly recommend you try to gamify things. Do a money challenge for a month.
We’ve done them and loved them. Why? They are fun and they are for a limited time, which can you can be a bit more intense with savings for a limited time and then you get a break.
Here are some good examples:
- Zero-Day Challenge: If your spouse is reluctant about cutting back they’ll love this one! You don’t have to change your spending at all. Instead, you simply need to track what you spend daily and count how many days you spend nothing (aka zero). This was an eye-opener to all those small expenses that add up by the end of the month. I bet you the next month after this challenge, you’ll spend less.
- $20 Date Night: Go back to your college days and find ways to have a memorable and fun night without breaking the bank. What free and cheap stuff is out there in your city?
- The $500 in 30 Day Challenge: This simple yet effective challenge can help you start or beef up your emergency fund in one month. Start by saving $1 the first day, then $2 the second, $3 on the third day, and so on. It doesn’t look like much, but when you pout in that $30 on the last day, you’ll have $465 stashed away. Seeing that much saved so quickly will encourage you to transfer that last $35 to top it off to an even $500!
Don’t forget to get the kids involved too! Some friendly competition the family can push all of you in a positive direction and show the kids you’re serious about saving.
Automate and Schedule Your Savings
Finally, the last step is crucial because I think sometimes we get all excited about the money we save and yet it’s not in the account.
When you start saving money, make sure you automate and schedule your savings!
If you guys decided this week we’re going to save this much money, go ahead and schedule that money to be put into your savings account. If you negotiated a deal with your cable company, car insurance, or cell phone, make sure you set up that transfer! That will keep you on track and reduce the temptation to spend that money if it stayed in checking.
I hope these help you out as much as they helped us. When we started making savings a habit, it opened up so many more options for you.