Here’s a slightly controversial opinion about saving money: discipline is overrated. I think that opinion is controversial because most of the financial advice you’ll get elsewhere espouses discipline and self-control. The way to save money is by exerting superhuman levels of self-control.
But you know what? Everyone eventually breaks. At some point, people will succumb to temptation. It’s just one thing they say. Well, that one thing eventually becomes two, which becomes three… and before you know it, you’re back in square one.
When it comes to saving money, nothing beats automatic savings. By automatic, I mean these are saving methods that don’t require me to be disciplined. They take me out of the equation. And I think I know myself enough to know that that is a good thing. I want to save as much money as possible, but I’m sometimes not the most responsible person financially. Which is why I decided to look for savings methods that circumvent the need for discipline.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this blog post. I’ll be sharing tips on how to save money and not touch it, and save money automatically. Some of the methods on this list won’t be actual savings methods. Instead, they’ll be methods for avoiding the temptation to make impulse buys. And as my mom used to say, money you don’t spend is as good as money saved.
Without further ado, here are my favorite ways for saving money – no discipline and self-control needed!
Get Paid Via Direct Deposit
My last corporate job paid via direct bank deposit. That made saving somewhat easier, because money went straight to my bank account. It wasn’t like in a previous job where I actually got paid in cash (I didn’t know people still got paid in cash in this century!). Getting an envelope of cash was super-convenient, but it was also easy to make impulse buys on the way to the bank. A direct deposit takes away that opportunity.
I believe many jobs now pay via direct bank deposit. If not, you might be able to work things out with the HR department of the company you work for. And if that’s still not doable, getting paid in check is the next best thing. Since you can’t use a check to pay for a meal at a fast food joint on the way to the bank, there’s a big chance those funds will actually end up in your savings account.
Get a Savings Account with Automatic Transfer
This savings method is even better than a basic savings account. Some banks offer a service where they will automatically dock a certain amount from your monthly pay, and immediately transfer it your second bank account. That way, you’ll know that the money you get in your first bank account is for spending. No need to compute how much is supposed to be saved, because the bank already does that for you.
Use Price “Rounding” Apps to Set Aside Money Automatically
This is one of the more surprising ways to automatically save money. There are apps that you can use to make purchases. When you do, it automatically rounds up the amount you’re paying for, say, to the nearest dollar. But they don’t keep that extra amount. That extra amount goes to your bank account as savings!
So let’s say you buy a CD (do people still buy those things?) for $5.50. The app will charge your credit card $6. The $5.50 will go to pay for your purchase, while the 50 cents will go to your bank account as savings. With these apps, you no longer have to force yourself to stay disciplined!
These types of apps also have another advantage: since they add to the standard cost of an item, I tend to just forego shopping when it isn’t necessary. And that gives me even more savings.
If this is something you’d like to try out, you can start with an app like Acorn. Acorn is my favorite, because it’s legit and super-easy to use.
Lock Up That Credit Card!
The best way to avoid overspending using a credit card is to lock it up. And no, I don’t mean figuratively. You should literally lock it up. I have mine under lock and key in my filing cabinet. I’ve also unlinked my credit card from most of my online shopping accounts. Credit cards are one of the easiest ways to overspend, since with credit cards, it doesn’t feel like your spending real money. Credit cards do a good job of making the process of spending money more abstract. And when that happens, it’s all too easy to lose track of the money you’re spending (and, inversely, the money you have to be saving!).
Make a Detailed Gameplan Before Shopping
Another source of impulse buying are all the nice shops I pass by when I’m on my way to the supermarket, or to buy some school supplies for my kids. I sometimes think mall owners plan the layout of malls to increase the chances of your spending. What I do is make a detailed plan on how to spend my money when I arrive to the mall. It could include a shopping list, but I also do one better and even plan my route around the mall! That way, I avoid all my favorite shops. You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind.
Unsubscribe from Shopping Newsletters
Think of this as the digital version of avoiding the stores that tempt you to spend money that should be going to your savings account. Shopping newsletters go straight to your email inbox, so they’re hard to avoid. They also sometimes include specific periods for sales, so it adds a bit of urgency when it comes to spending.
I found unsubscribing from these newsletters have made it easier to save and manage my spending habits. It’s usually easy to unsubscribe from these things.