5 Ways to Save Money Automatically
It can take a lot of discipline to save money, especially if you’re new to budgeting or have developed some bad spending habits, but you can make it easier on yourself by automating some (or all) of your savings to help you reach your financial goals. Here are five ways to start saving money automatically.
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1. Contribute to your company-sponsored retirement plan.
Many companies offer to match a portion of what their employees contribute to their 401(k) plans, so taking full advantage of this employment benefit can be a great way to ensure you’re saving for retirement without having to think about it again. Aiming to contribute at least a large enough percentage of your income to get the full match is one of the first places to start automating your savings.
Think about contributing as much as possible: this way of saving money automatically has one of the biggest payoffs. This money comes out of your paycheck before taxes, and the tax savings alone can make it worthwhile, in addition to the match and whatever gains you receive from investing this money (which can compound over time).
If you do this as soon as you start a new job, you likely won’t even notice the decrease in your regular paycheck. You’ll only see it when you look at your statements and revel in your increasing retirement nest egg.
2. Split your direct deposits.
If you’re not using direct deposit for your paychecks, you’re wasting time standing in lines at the bank. Many employers can deposit your weekly or biweekly pay into more than one account. It’s a great idea to have some of your income deposited into a savings account automatically.
Alternatively, at your bank, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account every time you’re paid. Again, you’ll never miss the money once you get used to never having it in your checking account in the first place. Saving money automatically helps remove the temptation to spend it.
3. Stash your cash back rewards.
Don’t forget your cash back rewards. Many credit card companies, including Discover, allow you to transfer your cash back rewards directly into your bank account. Make an agreement with yourself to move this money into savings, as opposed to applying it to your credit card balance each month.
You’ll be saving money even as you’re spending money.
4. There’s an app for that.
The newest way to save money without even thinking about it are penny-pinching apps that automatically move some of your money to savings. They go by such names as Acorns, Digit, Qapital and Stash.
Many of them work by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and depositing the difference, or allowing you to set up other rules. Some analyze your income and spending patterns as they emerge in your accounts and calculate how much you can afford to put away for the future.
5. Bank your extra paychecks.
Open your calendar and mark your every payday for at least the next year. If you’re paid weekly or biweekly, you’ll notice some months bring extra paychecks. This is a function of where your pay dates land, along with some months being longer than others. And yet, generally, your expenses stay about the same whether it’s a short month or a long month.
The pattern is a bit different depending on whether you’re paid weekly or biweekly. But it’s good to know in advance when those extra checks are coming. Set up your budget according to those months where you don’t get an “extra” check, and resolve in advance that when you do get an extra check it goes right into savings.
These are a few options for taking the pain out of saving money. Your sacrifices won’t feel like sacrifices at all. And you’ll be able to live more comfortably, with the peace of mind that a regular savings program brings.
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