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Think Saving Money Is Impossible? These 3 Tips Make It Easier

If saving money were easier, more people would likely have overflowing savings accounts. But 2023 data from SecureSave notes that 63% of Americans could not cover a $500 emergency expense by tapping their savings. That leaves many people vulnerable to debt in the event of a financial emergency.

If you’ve struggled to save money in the past, you might chalk it up as an impossible task. But here are some tips that could make it much easier to save money from this point forward.

1. Set small goals

When you overwhelm yourself with lofty savings goals, you run the risk of getting discouraged and giving up. If that’s happened before, stop setting yourself up for failure and start establishing goals that are more attainable.

For example, if you have under $500 in savings now, then it’s probably not so realistic to tell yourself you’re going to save $5,000 by the end of 2024 unless you happened to recently get a giant raise. But it may be more than reasonable to set a savings goal of $700 by the end of the year if you’re willing to budget carefully and reduce some spending.

It’s also okay to start with a very small goal and work your way upward. So for example, if you can’t remember the last time you contributed anything to savings, tell yourself that in May, your aim is to sock away $30. If that works, then in June, aim for $50, and then $100 in July.

It’s kind of like running. When you first start out, you might get winded by the end of your first quarter-mile. After a few weeks, you might be able to make it a mile without having to stop. Keep at it, and you’ll be running a three-miler before you know it.

2. Put contributions to savings on autopilot

Sometimes, the reason we don’t succeed in saving our money is that we’re tempted to spend more of it than we planned. If impulse spending has gotten in the way of your savings efforts, it’s time to put the process on autopilot.

The way this works is simple. Decide on a monthly savings goal that isn’t burdensome, and that leaves you with a little wiggle room for extra costs in your budget that are essential (such as if you’re switched to a new prescription medication that costs more). Then, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings at the start of the month.

Let’s say you start by automating a $50 transfer each month. If, next month, you’re invited out to dinner with friends but you’ve already maxed out your restaurant spending for that period, you’ll have to say no, because the money just won’t be there — it will be in your savings. Without that automation, you might say yes to dinner, but that could mean leaving your savings neglected.

3. Create your own rewards system

It’s definitely not easy to put more in your savings account. So when you are able to meet your goals, reward yourself by celebrating your financial wins. That could mean treating yourself to a $5 specialty coffee for every $50 you manage to save, or treating yourself to an Uber home from work once a week instead of the bus once your savings account hits $2,000.

There are many options you can play around with, but the goal is to motivate yourself to work on your savings. When you have a reward waiting, it’s often easier to stay on track.

And if you’re part of a couple, set savings goals and rewards together. Your reward for saving $500 could be dinner at the new restaurant that recently opened in town. Your reward for saving $5,000 over time could be a weekend getaway at a nice hotel.

Saving money is definitely hard. But is it impossible? Not necessarily. However, you may need to tweak your approach to saving money, and that could mean employing the above tips.

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