Saving money doesn’t come naturally to me; I have to work hard at it. According to the US Department of Commerce the national personal savings rate is about 6% which is an improvement considering it dipped below 0% in 2001. However, I think most people would agree with me when I say Americans need some strategies to bump their savings rate up because we can do better than 6%! Since I know saving money isn’t easy, I’ve concocted some mind bending tricks to make me save more of my money.

Pocket those Percentages.

One way I’ve been able to stash some extra cash is to set aside a percentage of my income. Using percents makes it easier for me to feel like I’m accomplishing my savings goal, especially since I live on a fluctuating income. I set aside 10%  percent from every source of income I receive and apply it towards savings. I auto debit the amount from my pay check making it easy for me to not count it as “income.” For all other sources of income, I automatically move 10% of the total check to my savings account.

If I had a set amount, I’m not sure I’d be able to meet it every month and I’d become discouraged. Percentages work no matter what my income might be in any given month.

Don’t Spend the Lincoln’s (or Benjamin’s, or Jeffersons, etc.)

I came across this tip on another website (of course I don’t remember which one!) that used a mind trick to save some extra cash; select a bill of choice and make a commitment to NOT spend it. I rarely have cash on hand, however, my goal is to save every Lincoln I come across. Five bucks here and there will eventually add up. After three to six months, my goal is to deposit the total into my savings account. This might motivate me to use cash more often. Of course the objective here is to increase your savings account, so place the cash where you can forget about it for a while!

Save those Gifts

Birthday’s, anniversaries, and even holidays are great ways to boost your savings. Deposit cash gifts into your savings account and turn gift cards into cash by cashing them out, or selling them. If the gift card is from a place you normally shop, save them for future use and stash the cash value in your savings account. If you don’t feel comfortable turning a gift into cash, tell family and friends that you’re working hard to ramp up your savings and would prefer gifts that help accomplish that goal.

Find Motivation

Another great way to get motivated to save more money is by using an online company that offer rewards for saving such as SaveUp. SaveUp wants to make saving money fun and offers daily give-aways to help motivate their members. Setting up an account earns you points that you use to “play” a game for a prize. Prizes include cash, bills paid, cars, shopping sprees, and many other options. Just a warning: SaveUp is a little addicting.

Do you use mind tricks to save more money?


  1. Money Beagle Reply

    No real tricks on this end. One thing you should also do is vow to save all or most of any windfall that you receive. This includes tax refunds. If you get a $3,000 tax refund, vow to save at least 75% of it, or $2,250. That’s a big chunk of money all at once and can give you a big boost of motivation. $3,000 sounds even better, doesn’t it? 🙂

    • @Money Beagle – Well, that does sound like a great tip. Unfortunately for me, I don’t normally get a tax refund back. ;(

  2. I remember hearing about a similar savings trick — never spend anything less than a $5 bill. So all dollars and all change gets put in a savings jar. Instead of a pack of gum costing you $1, you would have to use a five dollar bill to pay for it and then save all the change. I haven’t tried it but the method sounds really interesting, especially if you have a hard time saving.

    • @Pam – I like this idea too, but I have only just started. And, I normally don’t have cash on hand so this will be interesting to see how much I save. 😉

  3. I keep it simple, I set up a payroll deduction for retirement savings. I had a payroll deduction for savings for nearly 40 years. Set it and forget about it.

  4. For people who are serious about saving money, the most important thing they can do is move to the least expensive place they can find. This is because housing is often the most expensive bill most people have. If you can’t move, you might consider a roommate or boarder.

  5. retirebyforty Reply

    Saving a % is a great way to save. You won’t notice the 10% deduction if you don’t see it.

    • @Christa – If I could save more Benjamins, I don’t think I’d need to tricks to help save!;) However, my Lincoln plan is working so far!

  6. We’ve committed to saving the magic 10% of our income this year, no matter what. It worked with the first pay ckeck on the 15th, and I’m already counting on banking the 10% from the 1/31 pay check. It’s going to add up very quickly and seems to be easier than our system last year of maxing out the Roth.

  7. 20's Finances Reply

    I haven’t heard the particular bill tip – that’s an interesting one. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips… I just try to minimize my expenses, asking myself if I really need what ever it is that I am buying.

  8. Wow that reminder on the negative savings rate is incredible. Talk about unsustainable! I just go by pay yourself first. It can’t fail!

    • @Darwin’s Money – That is a simple trick that I really never picked up as a habit. Now I’m MAKING myself do this. 🙂

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