Let’s be real, most of the time what we plan to spend is a lot less than what we actually spend. Things come up, like discovering the leather jacket you’ve been lusting over is finally on sale. If you’ve even been in the spending instead of saving shame spiral, you know how it goes.
You start the month planning to stash money. Then you stumble upon something you really want. You check your bank account and OMG you can afford it. You get swept away by buying the thing and forget your savings plan. Only when you get home, do you remember and that’s when the guilt sets in.
Protect your wallet, and your emotions, by automating your savings. Most people base their spending decisions on what they have available in the bank. If the money isn’t there, they won’t spend it. The challenge is getting the money you want to save somewhere safe.
That’s where automating your savings comes in. Here are five ways to completely automate your savings.
Direct deposit part of your paycheck into your savings
Start automating your savings before you even get paid by having a portion of your paycheck deposited into savings. If you get paid through direct deposit, check with your employer about splitting your deposit between multiple accounts.
Most employers offer this option, and you can designate how much of your paycheck goes into savings. After a few months, you won’t even notice the money is gone, and you can splurge on that vintage Alf lunchbox, guilt-free.
Set up weekly automatic transfers
A lot of people plan to transfer money to savings at the end of the month when cash has dwindled. Your savings goal quickly goes from $300 to $30. Even if you can afford to make your goal, it’s painful to watch $300 disappear from your bank account.
Instead of taking a big hit once a month, spread your savings out through weekly automatic transfers. Transferring $75 a week feels more doable than $300 all at once.
Plus, when it’s automated, you can’t backtrack on your savings when you fall in love with that lifesize Elvis cutout. Instead, you’ll plan your spending around your savings, rather than the other way around.
Save your spare change with apps
Saving a few pennies every day may not sound like much, but over a year it really adds up. Just like you used to empty your pockets into a piggy bank as a kid, you can empty your digital pockets into a virtual piggy bank through saving apps.
These apps round up the change of your purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer it to a savings account. You can even pump up your savings by rounding up to the nearest $2, $3, $,4, and $5.
Depending on the app you use, you can also set savings goals for specific items. For example, if you’re saving for a new couch that costs $1,600, all your spare change goes towards that goal. Once you hit your goal, it’s time to save for the matching love seat.
Popular apps that save your spare change are Qapital (starting at $3/month), which saves your spare change and Acorns (starting at $1/month), which invests your spare change.
Gamify your savings
Saving doesn’t have to be such a downer. With Qapital, you can automate and gamify your savings by creating saving rules. We already talked about one of these rules, rounding up your spare change, but there are so many other ways you can turn savings into a game.
Other Qapital rules are:
Guilty pleasure: If you’re trying to avoid spending money at certain places, you can create a rule that saves money every time you make a purchase there. For example, you could ask Qapital to save $10 every time you buy a coffee at Starbucks.
Spend less: Maybe you’re not totally ready to give up your frappuccino addiction, but do want to limit your Starbucks spending to $25 per week. You can create a rule that saves every time you go over your $25 weekly limit at Starbucks.
Apple Health: If you’re an Apple user, you can reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals by saving. Want to walk 2 miles a day? Set up a rule that puts $5 into savings every time you achieve that goal. Hoping to spend less time sitting at your desk? Create a rule that saves $10 if you stand for 6 hours a day.
IFTTT (If Then Then That) Rule: IFTTT connects apps that you’re using together through a series of triggers and actions. You can do everything from saving your Instagram posts to Dropbox to sending yourself a reminder to bring an umbrella if it’s going to rain. The possibilities are endless, especially when you bring Qapital into the mix.
You can create a saving rule for virtually anything, including reaching fitness goals (IFTTT integrates with Fitbit and other fitness trackers), visiting a location of your choice, getting to work on time, and even whenever Donald Trump tweets.
Qapital starts at $3 per month.
Let the AI robots take care of it for you
If you’re looking for a way to optimize your savings without having to do a bunch of work, Digit is the answer. Digit is a saving app, but unlike others, it doesn’t use rules to save money. Instead, it analyzes your spending habits and determines how much is safe to save each day.
It sounds scary to let a bot handle your cash, but Digit has ways to protect your money. First, you can set up overdraft protection. Digit will transfer money back to your account if the balance dips below a certain threshold. Second, you can set up account balance minimums. If your account is below the minimum Digit won’t save.
Like other savings apps, you can create saving goals and even prioritize specific goals over others. I personally use Digit and have been amazed at how much I save every month, without it affecting my daily cash flow.
Digit costs $2.99 per month.
Implementing just a few of these strategies can boost your savings quickly, without taking you on a one way trip to Bummertown. After a few months, add another strategy and watch your bank account go from a spending machine to a saving superhero.
You feel so good about your savings that you won’t even feel bad about snatching up those Hamilton tickets and spending a night out on the town.