money

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. You can save $1000 in one year without even trying if you use the following plan, which combines an old trick (coin jar) with new methods (online banking) to make it easy and fun to save. Several strategies combine to save you money that you won’t even miss!

First: What Are You Saving for?

The most important part to this plan is to decide what you are saving towards: a trip to the Himalayas, a puppy, new wardrobe or pilot’s lessons. You will find it easier to save if your goal is something fun that you really want to do, not something more negative like pay off debt (although that is an admirable goal as well). The more specific you are, the more excited you will be about your goal and the more money you will be able to save.

Second: Your New Piggy Bank

Create an old-fashioned savings jar – turn an old spaghetti sauce or pickle jar into daily inspiration! Clean and remove the label, then paste inspiring photos of your dream around the outside. Spell out your savings goals in big letters: HIMALAYAS, and then cut a hole in the lid that is big enough to stuff coins and bills through. Put this jar in an obvious place that you will see every day multiple times: your desk, kitchen table or bathroom vanity.

Third: Your Online Savings Jar

Contact your bank to set up a separate savings account that will be dedicated to your goal, and sign up for online banking if you haven’t already (both should be free). Make sure to digitally label your new savings account: NEW PUPPY, and consider this your online savings jar. Check in with your bank accounts several times a week if possible, just like you would check your email or Facebook account. This will also help you stay on top of your finances and keep an eye on your withdrawals.

Next: Set Up an Automatic Transfer

Small amounts count! Set up an automatic bank transfer once per month to transfer an amount you feel comfortable with from your checking into your new savings account. Start as small as you want – $25 per month – but review the amount frequently and increase it as often as you can, even if that’s just by $1 or $2. Remember that every little bit counts! As you stick to this savings plan, you will start to see the bills stack up, which will inspire you to save even more!

Finally: The Rules

Once money goes into either of your savings jars, it cannot be removed. What goes in the savings jar?

1. All spare change goes into your savings jar.

2. All “found” monies, including coins you find in your couch, that $5 bill that appeared in the dryer, or the $10 that Aunt Jenny sends in the mail for your birthday. Anytime cash crosses your path unexpectedly, pay it forward to your self and put it in the jar. Found monies in the form of checks, such as rebate checks or Christmas bonuses, can go directly into your online savings account. Any money that you weren’t expecting to receive should go right into your savings jar.

3. Sneak yourself money. Is your wallet bulging after a night out or day of shopping? Lighten the load and sneak a few of those $1 or $5 bills into your savings jar – you are slipping it to your future self.

4. Once per month (or more), add up the money in both of your savings jars (your online savings account and your physical savings jar) and write this number down in an obvious place so that you can see your progress. Create a graph if you want to be even more visually inspired!

5. This last step is the most important. Determine one area of spending where you tend to impulse purchase and would really like to cut back: going out for lunch at work, buying clothes you don’t need or ordering a third glass of wine with dinner. Make a deal with yourself that every time you exercise your willpower and reign in your desire to impulse buy, that money (or a fraction thereof) goes right into your savings jar.

For example: If you want to start taking your lunch to work every day but never seem to make time, reward yourself with money into your savings jar every time that you do. By giving yourself $5 every time you bring your lunch instead of buying a meal out, you are still saving money (most lunches out cost more than $5) – and you are putting money towards something you truly want (Himalayas) instead of a momentary desire.

Only you will be able to tell when you are flexing your willpower muscle and deserve the payoff, but the good news is that each time you save $5 instead of spending it, your willpower gets stronger and stronger. As your savings grows each month, the momentum builds and you will be able to save more and more until you look up next December with $1000 saved.

image: khrawlings