Simple (& Painless) Strategies To Build Savings

By Mike Peterson
In May 18, 2012

Maybe you’re looking for a way to start your much-needed emergency fund – or perhaps you’re just trying to scrape together some extra cash for your summer vacation.  Whatever the reason, you know that you want to start saving.  But how?


It’s easier than you think.  In fact, there are lots of easy, and painless ways to make a little bit of change add up to a lot of extra money.


This month, I’m sharing a few of my favorite savings strategies and encouraging all of my readers to choose one and stick to it – for at least 30 days.  At the end of the 30 days, add up what you’ve saved.  Whether you toss your change into an old-school coin jar or get creative with online banking options, you might just be surprised at how fast your money adds up.


Ready to get started?  Here are four simple ways to start saving.


Savings Strategy 1:  The Coin/Dollar Bill Jar. 


What you’ll need:  A jar (or other container) — preferably something made of clear plastic or glass.


How it works:  For 30 days, whenever you pay cash, don’t pay for anything with one-dollar bills or exact change.  If the total is $22.50, pay $25.00.  If the total is $2.75, pay $5.00, and so on.  At the end of every day, put all of your dollar bills and loose change into your jar – and watch your savings grow (if you want, you can even “cheat” by adding a larger bill every now and then).


This is one of the most fun ways to save since you actually get to see your savings adding up.  At the end of the month, empty your jar and count up how much money you’ve saved.  I bet the total will be a lot more than you expect.


Savings Strategy 2:  The Automatic Transfer


What you’ll need: A checking account and a savings account – and access to online banking.


How it works:  Most banks offer lots of convenient features to their online banking customers – and one of my favorites is the automatic transfer.  Automatic transfers make it super-easy to save money – it’s like putting your savings on autopilot.


For this 30-day challenge, I suggest setting up a recurring transfer of a small amount – say, $10, $15, or even $20 a day or two after every payday.  And then, just forget about it.  Your bank will do the work for you, and your savings account will grow on its own.  Of course, you can still add to your savings through traditional deposits if you want – but even if you don’t put a cent in on your own, your automatic transfer will be plugging away in the background, building up your savings a few dollars at a time.  At the end of one month, you should have a good start to your savings.


Savings Strategy 3:  The “Cash-Back” Envelope


What you’ll need:  A debit card and a large envelope.


How it works:  If you like the idea of starting a coin jar – but you’re more of a debit card user who doesn’t usually carry cash, a “cash-back envelope” is a good alternative.  It’s pretty simple:  Every time you make a debit card purchase, choose the option to get some cash back.  It doesn’t have to be a huge amount – $5 (or less) would work just fine.  As soon as you get home, stick the extra cash into an envelope.


At the end of the month, take the envelope to the bank and deposit all of your extra cash into your savings account.  You’ll probably end up with a pretty hefty chunk of change.


Savings Strategy 4:  Round it Down


What you’ll need:  A checkbook with a ledger.


How it works:  If you prefer a good old checkbook to a debit card, this simple and effective strategy is perfect for you.  For 30 days, every time you make a deposit, round it down by $50:  A deposit of $500 becomes $450, and so on.


At the end of the month, you’ll have a bit of extra cash in your checking account – and by the end of the year?  You’ll have a very nice surprise.


So, there you have it – four fun, easy ways to boost your savings.  Now that you know your options, choose one that you like and try it out for 30 days.  Then, leave me a comment and let me know how much money you’ve saved – I love a good success story.


Happy saving!

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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