Saving money isn’t easy.
When you get that paycheck on Friday and you’re ready to hit the town and have some fun, it takes a lot of discipline (or a ridiculously huge paycheck) to be willing to save a good chunk of that money.
Some people know themselves well enough that they won’t voluntarily save money, so they come up with ways to force themselves to save. There’s no better illustration of this than my favorite Super Bowl Commercial.
“Will the owner of a white stationwagon, please go #**# yourself?” I’ve watched it a hundred times, and it still makes me LOL. (that’s “laugh out loud” in case you haven’t seen that one before)
If you aren’t happy with how much you’re saving right now, I’ve come up with a few ideas to help you force yourself to save.
Five Ways To Force Yourself to Save
1. Swear Jar
OK, I’m not talking about an actual swear jar like they have in the video (although that could work). Just take any bad habit of yours that you would like to change and turn it into a competition with yourself.
- If you want to stop cursing, save a quarter every time you say a bad word.
- If you want to get in shape, save $5 every day you don’t go to the gym.
- If you want to stop eating out, match your eating out bill with savings. (if you spend $16 at Applebee’s, you have to save $16)
This will either help you save money, help you improve yourself as a person, or a little bit of both. Extra Credit: If you can get Rahm Emanuel to contribute a buck to your swear jar every time he uses profanity, you can retire at a very young age.
2. Buy a CD (Certificate of Deposit)
Maybe you do an alright job of throwing money in your savings account, but always find yourself pulling it right back out when some new overpriced toy comes out. Put your money in a Certificate of Deposit. A CD typically gives you a higher interest rate than you can get with a savings account, but you are required to keep the money in the CD for a certain period of time, or pay hefty penalties to get the money out early. Higher Interest + Save Money Longer = Win.
3. Don’t Add More Crap to you Possessions
Let me tell you a secret; you have enough crap. Sure, you’ll probably want or need new crap somewhere down the line. That’s cool. But when you get new crap, get rid of the old crap. This works particularly well with clothing. Get a new pair of jeans? Donate an old pair to charity. New suit? Sell the old one to a second hand store. Not only will this keep your closet from overflowing, it will make you put a little more thought into whether you are willing to give up an old favorite tshirt to get a new one. Plus you can sell old clothes or write off charitable donations to save even more.
4. Save 50% of any bonus or raise
I actually stole this idea from The Hoff; pretend you are earning $30k a year and you’re making it just fine. Then you get a raise to $35k a year. Guess what? You’re cost of living didn’t increase, but your income did. Theoretically you could save 100% of your raise and maintain the same lifestyle, but that’s no fun. What’s the point of a raise if it doesn’t include a new PS3? As long as you save half or more, you have my permission to spend some or all of the rest of it on a new toy or vacation.
5. Race Your Friend
When you are racing a friend to something like $1 Million in net worth or $1,000 in the bank, you’re going to be more motivated to do it. Saving money is a lot like going to the gym; you’ll stick to it better if you and a friend hold each other accountable. And you’ll get huge deltoids. Wait, maybe that’s just the gym. The point is, it’ll be fun and you’ll find yourself being a lot more conscious of your money decisions.
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James Hendrickson is an internet entrepreneur, blogging junky, hunter and personal finance geek. When he’s not lurking in coffee shops in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find him in the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors. James has a masters degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Bachelors degree on Sociology from Earlham College. He loves individual stocks, bonds and precious metals.