5 Money Mind Games That Can Help You Save More

Human beings aren’t wired to be natural savers. But an end run around our basic nature can help the money pile up.

Saving more money can sometimes feel like a chore that we just don’t have time for, and no one likes to feel like they’re depriving themselves of life’s little luxuries. Thankfully, saving money can be easy, and yes, even fun if you do it strategically. The trick is to set yourself up for success so that you don’t even have to think about
the money you’re setting aside. Even though it’s easier than ever to spend money in today’s world, we also have more methods at our disposal for tricking ourselves into saving more. Check out some of these money mind games and see which ones you might want to play with yourself.

Set Goals — And Keep Visual Reminders

When you don’t have a goal set for something that you’re saving for — like a vacation, retirement, or a new home — it’s easier to spend money on whatever you want in that moment. In other words, if your brain isn’t accustomed to playing the long game, you’re wired to be in instant gratification mode. Having a goal that you’re striving towards, and then visualizing that goal, can serve as a strong incentive to save. And we mean visualize literally — print out photos of your big money goals and put them up on your bulletin board at work, or on your fridge at home, and try out a digital version as your phone’s home screen. Whenever you feel the impulse to spend, do some visualizing first and then make your choice…we predict that cooking for yourself may suddenly seem way more appealing than ordering in.

Keep The Change

That change that may feel like nothing to you today can add up to something really big over the years. How many times have you tossed your coins into a coffee shop tip jar, or lost a few quarters at the laundromat when they fell out of your pocket? Sure, it’s not much now, but the only thing standing in the way of its future greatness is you. You’ve got to save it. One option is to get an actual piggy bank (or cute mason jar of your choosing) and make a nightly habit of saving your change the old-fashioned way, one day taking it to the bank to make a deposit just before it gets too heavy to pick up. Another option is to figure out about how much change you come up with each day and then set up automatic transfers of that amount from checking to savings at your credit union. Some institutions are even starting to offer to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, and will deposit the excess into your savings account, explains Carrie Rattle, founder of Behavioral Cents money coaching firm.

Get A Shopping Buddy Whose Financial Goals Align With Yours

While it’s true that some friends can actually be a bad influence on your spending habits — convincing you to take lavish vacations, or go all out at the club, some of them can be a big help when it comes to reaching your financial goals. You need to find a shopping buddy who is also looking to stash some cash, and the two of you can bond over cheap lunches and discount clothing until your heart’s content. You could even have a friendly competition to see who can save the most over the course of a year. This person can become your go-to consult who you check in with before you buy anything. The good news is that you can be accountable to one another even when you’re apart. You can just text or call them while you’re debating making a purchase, and they can remind you not to be fooled by the vibrant “50% off” sign. Because to cite one of our favorite Money Rules: If it’s 50% off, it’s still 50% on.

Build Your Own Barrier To Entry

Today’s contactless payment world has made it easier than ever to spend, spend, spend, without even thinking about where our money is going. Sometimes we don’t even feel like we’re using real money, we’re so disconnected from our cash. For example, when our credit cards are synced up to the apps and accounts where we make purchases, we can buy things with just one click, often without even getting a good look at the total. Although this may be convenient, we’ve removed the all-important opportunity to pause and reflect on what we’re buying, and ask ourselves, “Do I really need this?” Thankfully, we can build our own barrier around quick and thoughtless purchases by simply removing stored credit card details from apps and online retailers. Having to enter your details every time you want to buy something may be just the motivation you need to save a little more money each month.

Treat Yo’ Self

You may not have been expecting this one — after all, the goal is to save money, not to spend, but hear me out. If you’ve been enjoying a $6 latte every day of the week, you might feel deprived if you cut it out of your life completely. Rather than doing that, you can turn your every-day latte into a Friday treat. This way, you’re still getting your fix without being made to feel like you’ve undergone a radical life change. Also, as you hit your savings goals, it’s important to celebrate your milestones. In other words, when you write down your savings goals for the year, decide how you’ll treat yourself when you
hit the first ones. This way you’re saving for your future and treating yourself to something nice in the present at the same time.

With Megi Meskhi

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky