I read somewhere (don’t ask me to remember where – this Frugal Wife is also a Forgetful Wife), that willpower doesn’t always get the job done. Sports apparel brands will want you to think that to get stuff done, all you have to do is grit your teeth and power through things. This is especially true when trying to kick and bad habit or kickstart a good one.
Case in point: saving money. I’ve learned the hard way that using willpower to save money doesn’t always work. I’ll confess that for the first few years of my adult life, I would try to just will myself to set money aside. And it never worked, because there was always some external factor, or some unavoidable circumstance that overpowered my willpower.
When I gave birth to my first child, I knew I had to get my act together. So I tried to find all sorts of tricks to saving money. After much trial and error, I found a few ways how to force yourself to save money. But the truth is, “force” isn’t really the correct term. Like I mentioned earlier willpower is mostly unreliable. The saving tricks I’ve listed here don’t rely too much on willpower. The only thing you need to will yourself to do is to start.
So let’s get on with my list of saving tips and tricks!
Just get started
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to mention just the same. So many of us think about starting a sizeable nest egg, but immediately get intimidated by the road ahead of us. I don’t want you to think about the end goal just yet. That’s unnecessary pressure. For now, all I want you to do is to simply get started. Open a bank account today. It doesn’t matter if all you can deposit today is the maintaining amount. Do it. Just starting is enough to generate enough momentum that will help you realize your goals.
Get help from your partner
As soon as you get your salary, take the money earmarked for savings, and hand it to your spouse or partner. They then take it to the bank to be deposited in your account. This takes a lot of trust between you and your partner, but it shouldn’t be too big a deal. The key here is to separate the money for savings as soon as you get your salary. Don’t go walking around the mall with pockets full of cash, lest you succumb to the temptation of impulse buys.
If you prefer to handle your own money yourself, you can always open a joint account, so you can monitor your money together, and keep each other in check.
Never, ever open a tab at bars and gaming cafes
I’ve mentioned before that credit cards are bad ideas, since it turns money into an abstract concept. The same applies to bar and gaming cafe tabs, which are actually a form of credit, since you’re not paying at that same moment. When you open a tab, it’s very easy to lose track of your spending. So don’t! Always pay for your drinks and bar chow as soon as you order them.
Remember that desire is fleeting
As a collector of Funko Pops and Nendoroid toys, this is something I had to accept. I might want a certain toy right now, and that feeling of desire might be really strong, but the feeling doesn’t always last. Some things are heat of the moment. So whenever I like something, I pause and give myself to think whether I really want it or not. Chances are, I don’t. And this mandatory waiting time before making purchases has saved me tons of money.
And here’s another money-saving trick: it’s easy to take that desire and shift it to something else. If I want a certain figure that costs too much, I shift my attention to a cheaper one. I’m not a psychologist, but a more expensive toy doesn’t always mean a stronger reward response. Sometimes, a cheaper figure is enough to make me happy.
Mentally convert prices to the number of hours you’ll have to work for them
I mentioned treating money as an abstract concept. Here’s another way to make money more concrete. Whenever you consider buying something, look at the price tag and calculate how many hours you would have needed to earn the money to buy it. Then imagine yourself working for X amount of hours to buy that item. Doing this will help you decide whether something is genuinely worth the hassle you had to go through at work.
Spend last month’s money instead of this month’s money
I saved this for last because this technique sneaky way to save money is a bit next-level, and requires you to have a substantial nest egg set aside. Let’s assume you’ve followed all the previous tricks to saving money, and are looking for a way to boost your savings even more. This is the technique for you.
Basically, what you do is set aside an amount of money that’s enough to cover the month’s budget. Then when your paycheck comes in, you save the entire amount. You use the money you’ve set aside for spending. When the next paycheck comes, you set that aside then use last month’s money for spending. What’s happening here is that you’re always spending last month’s money for this month’s expenses. You’ll always have a comfortable amount of money set aside.
Know when to treat yourself
All this scrimping and saving requires big sacrifices. And our goals for saving are usually pretty selfless – I personally am saving for the college funds of both my kids. But that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself from time to time. In fact, I’ve factored in a day of pampering and some light retail therapy into my savings plans. This way, I have some short-term goals to work towards, and it doesn’t feel like I’m depriving myself too much.