Human beings aren’t wired to be natural savers. But, understanding our basic nature can help us save more money.

Putting aside more money every month can sometimes feel like a chore. Maybe it’s something you just don’t have time for. No one likes to feel like they’re depriving themselves of things they enjoy either. Thankfully, saving money can be easy and fun if you do it strategically. The trick is to set yourself up for success so that you don’t even have to think about the money you’re setting aside. While it’s easier than ever to spend money, we also have more methods for tricking ourselves into saving more money. Check out some of these money mind games and see which ones you might want to play with yourself.

Set Goals — And Keep Visual Reminders

When you have a goal set for something that you’re saving for — like a vacation, retirement, or a new home — it’s harder to spend money on other things. In other words, if you can rewire your brain to think long term, you’ll avoid the instant gratification of unnecessary spending.

Having a goal that you’re working towards can serve as a strong incentive to save. But, you also need to visualize it.

For example:

  • Print out photos of your goals and hang them in your cubicle, on your refrigerator, on a mirror in your bedroom, or wherever you’ll see them often. If you’re saving for a Caribbean cruise, print pictures of beaches and the boat. If you’re saving for a down payment on a house, print some pictures of your dream home.
  • Go digital! Find pictures of your goal online and set them as the lock screen on your phone.
  • Print small versions of your goal and literally tape them to your credit card. Every time you pull it out to use it, you’ll be reminded of your end goal.

Whenever you feel the impulse to spend, do some visualizing first and then make your choice. We predict that cooking for yourself may suddenly seem way more appealing than ordering in.


Keep The Change to Save More Money

The loose change that may feel like nothing to you today can add up to something really big over time. How many times have you tossed extra coins into a tip jar, or lost a few quarters at the laundromat when they fell out of your pocket? How much change is sitting in the cup holder in your car? Sure, it’s not much now, but the only thing standing in the way of its future greatness is you. You just need to save it.

  • OPTION 1: Get an actual piggy bank (or a cute mason jar). Make a habit of saving your change the old-fashioned way. Plop your loose change into the jar until it’s full. Then, take it to the credit union to make a deposit. We suggest avoiding coin machines if you’re trying to save money. Coin machines typically take over 11% of your earnings, plus a flat fee. When you’re saving for something important, every penny counts. You can get free coin rolls at your bank or credit union. Involve your kids when you roll the coin too – it’s a great lesson in math and saving money!


  • OPTION 2: Round up your purchases. Many people don’t use cash anymore, so they don’t typically have change. If you fall into the plastic users category, you’ll have to do a little math. However, with any goal, break it into manageable pieces. For example, every day, add up what you spent that day, then round up. Subtract what you actually spent from the rounded number, then transfer that amount to your savings account. For example, if your charges for the day total $18.09, round up to $19. The difference between those two amounts is $0.91. Transfer the $0.91 from your checking to your savings account. It may not seem like much, but if you saved $0.91 every day for a year, you’d have over $332!


Get A Shopping Buddy Whose Financial Goals Align With Yours

Some friends can actually be a bad influence on your spending habits. Ones that convince you to take expensive vacations, buy those new shoes, or upgrade your sound system are the enemies of saving. However, some of them can be a big help when it comes to reaching your financial goals. You need to find a shopping buddy who is also looking to stash some cash. Then, the two of you can bond over cheap lunches and discount clothing until your heart’s content. You could even have a friendly competition to see who can save the most over the course of a year. This person can become your go-to before you buy anything, even if you’re not shopping together. Just text or call them when you’re debating making a purchase. They can remind you not to be fooled by the “50% off” sale. Because, to quote one of our favorite Money Rules: “If it’s 50% off, it’s still 50% on.”


Remove Stored Cards in Apps and Online Shopping Accounts

Today’s contactless payment world has made it easier than ever to spend money without even thinking about where it’s going. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like we’re using real money. Everyone is so disconnected from cash.

For example, when our credit cards are synced up to the apps and accounts where we make purchases, we can buy things with just one click. Oftentimes, we don’t even get a good look at the total. This may be convenient, but we’ve removed the important opportunity to pause and reflect on what we’re buying. With one-click shopping, there’s no time to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Thankfully, you can build your own hurdle to avoid thoughtless spending. Simply remove stored credit card details from apps and online retailers. Having to enter your card information every time may annoy you enough that you stop and think about it before clicking “Buy Now.”


Treat Yo’ Self

You may not have been expecting this one. After all, the goal is to save money, not to spend it. However, if you’ve been enjoying a $6 latte every day of the week, you might feel deprived if you cut it out of your life completely. Rather than going cold turkey, turn your daily latte into a Friday treat. This way, you’re still getting your fix without feeling like you’ve gone through a radical life change. Also, as you hit your savings goals, it’s important to celebrate your milestones. In other words, when you write down your savings goals for the year, decide how you’ll treat yourself when you hit the first ones. This way, you’re able to save more money for your future and treat yourself to something nice in the present at the same time.


We’re Here to Help

If you feel overwhelmed, we’re here to help! We offer multiple savings accounts so you can easily separate your money, and certificates if you want to maximize your savings. Our free financial coaches are also available to help you make a budget and plan to save more money. Call, text, chat, or stop in! We’re here to help M-F, 9am-4pm ET. (315) 671-4000.


With Jean Chatzky via SavvyMoney