5 Ways to Fool Your Brain into Saving More Money
In talking with friends about future plans and money, a surprising number of us joked about a long term strategy that involves scratch off lottery tickets. Sure, it would be great to win the lottery. But it doesn’t constitute a reliable or realistic financial plan.
Saving money is not nearly as fun or glamorous as spending it. But without intentional budgeting, cost-cutting and a close eye, there won’t be much money left to spend.
Even if you’ve had an allergic reaction to budgeting in the past, there are ways to make this project fun and trick yourself into enjoying financial responsibility.
Here are five ways to fool your brain into saving more money.
Automate Your Savings and Payments
Perhaps the most basic way to fool your brain into saving is to never see that money in your checking account to begin with. Instead, set up automatic payments and automatic transfers to your savings account. Have retirement money taken directly out of your paycheck.
The math is the same. Either way you were going to put $500 toward savings, retirement and debt. But when that extra $500 is sitting in your bank account, it’s tempting to spend it on something else.
Look for Recurring Savings
Sure, trimming your expenses is a way to “find” money in your budget. But dissecting every blessed charge is enough to turn anyone off from budgeting.
Instead, look at larger, regular charges to see if there’s room for savings. For example, you may forget about car insurance because you only pay the bill twice a year. But see if you qualify for car insurance savings to “find” more money.
Stretch your dollar by looking into your health insurance benefits, as many policies include discounts on that monthly gym membership fee. Instead of looking for one-time savings, think of recurring charges that will reap benefits repeatedly for a bigger savings without as a much work.
Award Yourself for Achieving Goals
Saving money seems to mean sentencing ourselves to a lifetime of austerity. For some, that means they completely fall off the wagon the first time they splurge, thinking to themselves, “Well, I’ve already ruined the budget, so I might as well get these new shoes as well!”
Instead, know thyself. Which splurges will motivate you to keep saving? If you pay off that credit card bill in full, you can go out to a champagne brunch next month. If you pack your lunch for work every other day of the week, you can participate in food truck Fridays.
Dangling a carrot in front of yourself can help you stay motivated and keep the unrealistic austerity away.
Get Visual with your Future
Numbers, spreadsheets and calculators aren’t exactly motivating for most of us. But Pinterest boards of a future vacation or a refrigerator photo of your dream car can certainly remind you of the reasons for your saving habits.
So once you set your goal, post inspirational images where they’re most likely to remind you of it. If your budget buster is ordering takeout food, stick your images on the fridge. Put a photo of your cute nieces at Disney last year in your wallet, so you’ll see it before you take out your credit card. This will remind you that you’re saving up to go with them this year.
Use Competitive Motivation
Some of us thrive on competition, and that can be applied to our financial lives as well. Challenge a friend to see who can pay off more of their student loans in the next year. Set the goal to move from an average to good credit score within the next six months. Save to beat the current national averages of retirement savings for Americans in your age group.
Saving is important in its own right, but sometimes we need a little rivalry to compel us to get moving.
Oftentimes we sabotage ourselves with impulse spending, poor planning or inaction. By using these easy tactics, we can practically trick ourselves into saving money.