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7 Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money

ff-pigHey friends! We’re honored to feature this article from money-saving expert Andrea Woroch.  Andrea is sharing with us today some ways in which we can trick ourselves into saving money. Thanks, Andrea, for these great tips!

Saving money isn’t easy, and it’s clear Americans are having trouble doing just that. A recent report revealed 28% of consumers feel less comfortable with their savings compared to last year, and 24% have more credit card debt than cash stashed for emergencies. With the average U.S. household credit card debt at approximately $15,600, it’s time to take action.

If you’re having trouble breaking a poor spending habit or can’t stick to a savings plan, trick yourself into stashing more dough with these 7 clever strategies.

Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money

Cash out to tame temptation.
Shopping with cash will help you reign in impulse purchases and unnecessary spending. Carrying larger bills will make the fight against temptation easier. That’s because consumers perceive $50s and $100s as more precious, while smaller bills seem replaceable and easier to come by. It’s called the denomination effect and can help you control your spending when you carry only large, crisp bills.

Stow away “near misses.”
Whenever you stop yourself from an impulse purchase — whether it’s a fancy latte, new blouse or shiny gadget — put the money you would have spent into savings. Not only will this show you how much unplanned purchases can cost, it also helps you do something constructive with money you might have otherwise spent on unnecessary goods or services.

Create shopping rules.
If you’re an all-or-nothing type of person, set spending boundaries to keep your budget in check and establish new saving habits. Commit to shopping rules like; never paying full retail price, always looking for a coupon, using a hand basket at the grocery store to limit impulse buys andmulling over potential purchases for 24 hours. Overtime, following such rules won’t feel like work and they will become part of your regular shopping routine. Stick to your shopping guidelines easily using digital tools like CouponSherpa.com for quick access to online, mobile and printable coupons, the RedLaser app for instant in-store price comparison, or TrackIf.com for price drop notifications.

Do something with those savings.
Whether you recently reduced your cable bill or are using a coupon to save on a new pair of shoes, the money saved isn’t going to do you much good unless you do something with it. Transfer the $20 you saved on groceries directly into a savings account or investment fund as soon as you return from shopping. This is the fastest way to make those savings work for you and even grow your dough!

Pay yourself first.
Once you live paycheck-to-paycheck, it becomes a habit that’s hard to break and you can’t imagine the possibility of living on less. If you make saving a priority and pay yourself FIRST before all the bills, you’ll learn how to stretch your dollars and live on what you have left. To accomplish this, set up automatic transfers from your checking to a savings account or use Digit. This online tool automates your savings for you by analyzing your income and spending patterns.

Plug budget leaks.
Do you watch the hundreds of channels that come with your pricey cable subscription or use all the data and minutes associated with your mobile plan? Probably not and there are reports that prove it! Beyond TV and phone bills, are you paying unnecessary bank fees or still enrolled at a gym you haven’t been to in months? Take the time to calculate what you actually use and lower your monthly bills so you stop wasting money on unused expenses. You can save up to $4,000 every year by plugging up these budget leaks and finding less expensive alternatives, as I explained in a recent segment with San Diego Living.

Set a maximum bank balance.
If you set a maximum balance in your bank account to cover bills and discretionary spending while transferring the rest to a separate savings account, you’ll work harder to make ends meet on what you have available. Seeing a smaller balance in your bank will keep you from blowing money on unnecessary splurges. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

What are your favorite ways to trick yourself into saving money? Do you have any budget leaks you need to plug up?


  1. We automated our savings, taking a set amount out of each pay check and stashing it away in a separate account. This way is out of sight out of mind and we don’t have the temptation to use it on something we don’t need.

  2. I’ve recently started stowing away “near misses” and I feel so good about it! Every time I don’t get a Starbucks, I move $5 from checking to savings. Seems silly but I love it!

    • I do this too and it helps me reach short-term savings goals faster! I also stash away cash from returns on impulse purchases. Kind of like a penalty for buying it in the first place!

  3. Joseph Hogue says:

    Great tips! I’m already applying the “pay myself first” trick, and we are now often opting to not whip out the credit card for purchases. I agree with mostly carrying large denominations, this is a neat trick to keep in mind. We’ve also started investing, which we feel really good about, at least the money we saved isn’t just sitting idly.

  4. Ben Luthi says:

    Great tips! Automating has been the biggest thing for me. Just last month, I thought to myself, “Why are our expenses so freaking high!” Then I realized that a huge chunk of it was going to savings.

  5. I am a big fan of paying yourself first, when you do that, you know that you are hitting your savings goal and then you can manage all of your other expenses around what is left. In my mind, it takes the guess work out of saving because it happens automatically.

  6. My best trick to saving money is reading the frugalwoods site. They inspire me to try to get as close to zero on everything as humanly (or houndily) possible. I think they could literally squeeze blood out of a stone.

  7. Oh the budget leak…I need to do more to plug it. I get nervous when the bank balance gets low, out of sight does not mean out of mind for me. Does it ever make you nervous?

    Excellent advice as usual, Laurie!

  8. SavvyJames says:

    All great suggestions, particularly ‘Pay Yourself First.’ My experience has been that it is the one practice that helps pull the other things into line.

  9. Kathy says:

    I don’t think I need to “trick” myself into savings as I feel I’m pretty good at it already. We put money into our investment account through auto-transfer, and write a check to our savings account on the day we receive our pension. My social security check goes directly into the investment account as well. One thing I do to get a little extra into savings is take all the loose change and one dollar bills I have in my wallet at the end of the day and put it into my little cash stash. A couple of times a year we take that to the bank and add it to our savings. It usually is around a couple hundred each time. Maybe not a lot, but definitely easy to do.

  10. I really like that “Stow away near misses” technique, and might start adopting that. Not only are you getting ahead by saving more, but you are also getting a look at how those extra unnecessary expenses impact your take away.

  11. My favorite way to save is to use my zero-sum budget and pay myself first. Since we build savings into our budget and move that money into investments at the beginning of the month, we have no choice but to follow through.

  12. Kayla says:

    As I’ve recently been decluttering, I’ve quickly seen how many failed projects, knick-knacks and stuff I once thought I needed added up quickly. It’s quite inspiring to frugality to see all the stuff you wasted hard earned money on in just a few days leave the door to be donated, garage sale’d, or trashed!

    My biggest ‘trick’ to saving money is to put all of my focus on new habits or hobbies that will allow me to save more money in the long run. Right now it’s gardening 🙂 While I’m spending some money up front to pre-occupy my time, it’s a frugal hobby that will hopefully pay off with some nearly free food. My mindset is, if I can gradually be more and more independent from money (fixing my own things, gardening, diy), then I won’t need to watch my money as much either.

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