We live in pretty turbulent times right now and the words “fake news” get bandied around a lot. But if there is one universal truth we feel we can comfortably rely on, it’s this: pretty much everyone wants to be better about saving money.
Some of us put money aside every month but then find ourselves dipping back into it in the days before payday. (Hands up if you’re guilty.) Some of us plan to put all leftover money aside at the end of each month, only to find there’s no money actually leftover. Some of us put $500 aside every month, but want to make it $600. We’ve all got our issues, so no judgement.
In the interest of helping you while helping ourselves, we’ve put together a pretty handy-dandy list of ways to make saving money easier. Keep reading for the scoop.
Forming a habit can be hard for some people. While we’d like to think we’ll be mindful about checking our back balance and transferring money to savings every time payday rolls around, life is sure to get in the way at some point. And thus your savings will suffer.
That’s why automation is your friend.
Most banks offer a way for you to set up a “rule” that automatically transfers a specified amount into a specified account at a specified time on a specified day. In addition, you should be able to set it up so that it repeats every week, month or quarter.
For example, many banks allow you to set up transfers between your chosen accounts that recur weekly, fortnightly, monthly, on the last day of every month, bi-monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually. (#options)
In our minds, the ideal way to automate your savings is to schedule your automatic transfer so that it lines up with your payday. For example, if you know you get paid on the 15th of every month, and you know you want to save $100 a month, you would set up an automatic transfer that moves $100 from one account to the other on, say, every 16th.
The point of automating your savings is that it’s done. It’s a “set and forget” method that works really well for those of us that are absent-minded.
Put it out of sight
Let’s say that you have two accounts: a transaction account and a savings account. And every time you open up your banking app, you can see the balances of both.
Great, right? But what if you see you have $100 in your transaction account and $1,000 in your savings account — and you’ve got two weeks to go until payday. And so then you dip into your savings and transfer $200 back into your transaction account for fun and hijinx.
Let’s put aside the first problem (that you don’t have enough money to last until payday) and focus on the second problem: your savings are right there in plain sight.
In this case, it could be a good idea to do one of two things:
- Open a savings account with another bank; or
- Hide your savings account from view.
The first option here is pretty easy. You simply open a bank account elsewhere and you don’t regularly check in on the balance. It’s literally out of sight, out of mind.
The second option here might not be available to you; you’ll have to check your bank. Basically, some banks allow you to hide certain accounts from view. So, you’ll have a list of your accounts and it might say “show hidden accounts.” And then you’ll actually have to take a few steps before you can see your hidden accounts again.
The point of hiding your accounts is simply to make it harder for you to access them, if you’re in the habit of dipping into your savings here and there.
Optimise frequency and amount
As we’ve just mentioned, sometimes we can be a bit ambitious about how much we put aside for savings and how much we leave ourselves to spend. The result is that we end up dipping into our savings account because we’re short of cash.
That’s why it’s really important to optimise the amount you save and how often you save it. You need to make a plan that works for you and your budget.
Let’s say your net monthly income is $2,000. You pay $500 for rent, then divide the rest into two batches: $750 for saving and $750 for spending.
But every month, you end up transferring $250 (or so) from your savings into spending. Clearly, you’re being a little ambitious with your savings goals, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But maybe you just need to be more realistic about what you spend.
To optimise your savings plan, you’d take a good look at what’s going on here. In this example, it’s pretty clear. After rent, you seem to need about $1,000 to live on and $500 for savings. So, change your goals and your plan, and you’ll soon be kicking arse.
Have a goal
While some of us can set aside savings with some faraway concept of what we’re saving for, others of us might need a specific goal. Maybe you are saving for an overseas holiday, or you want to buy a home, a guitar, a car, or a minibar.
Here’s the kicker. Having a goal in your mind is one thing. But how can you keep that goal front and centre every time you set aside money for saving. Some ideas…
- Check and see if your banking app allows you to change the name of your accounts. Then, change the name from, say, “Smart Access” to “Paris Trip.”
- Stick a post-it note on your fridge that says “Paris Trip,” so you’re always getting a quick reminder about your future goal every time you’re hungry.
- Stick a postcard of Paris (as an example) on your desk at work or on the fridge.
The point here is just to create gentle reminders for yourself about your goal. Hopefully, any time you’re tempted to spend money or dip into your savings, you’re reminded about your initial goal and you’re inspired all over again to stick to your savings plan.