What’s the Easiest Way to Save Money?

You may be asking this question if you can’t manage to save anything (or if you can’t save as much money as you’d like to). You may think that saving money means you need to make a budget and stick to that budget by meticulously tracking every purchase you make. That’s complete nonsense! I’ve got a super easy way to get you to save money:

Automation!

Set up a process to automatically pull money out of your checking account and put that money into a savings or investment account regularly. With just a one-time setup, you’ve committed your future self to consistently save money. Thanks to automation, you can make yourself save money and you don’t even have to think about it! You just set it and forget it.

You’re Probably Already Saving Money in the Easiest Way Possible

Are you contributing to your 401(k)? If so, then you’re already taking advantage of automated savings! By contributing to your 401(k), 403(b), or 457, or even your deferred compensation plan, money comes out of your paycheck and gets invested before you have a chance to spend that money! Automatic paycheck deductions for your company’s retirement plan makes saving money very easy.

What If I Can’t Afford to Save Anything?

Consumer expert Clark Howard suggests starting small. Commit to just one percent (1%) – that’s one penny of every dollar earned. One percent is such a small amount of money that you won’t even notice that you’re not spending it. In another six months, bump up your savings rate by another one percent. Keep doing this – increasing your savings rate one percent at a time.

What If I Need Cash for a Down Payment on a Home?

Your 401(k) isn’t the only option for automating your savings. You can automate your savings with a savings account, or even an investment account, like your IRA. Just set up automatic, regular movements of money from your checking account to go into your savings or investment account. You can even time these money movements to occur with payday. This way, the moment your paycheck gets put into your checking account, some of that money automatically goes towards meeting your savings goals.

What’s the Easiest Way to Pay Down Debt?

If you want to aggressively chip away at debt, you can use the same system. Go over and above making the minimum payments on your student debt, your car note, or your mortgage by automating extra payments! You can even use the “start small” strategy: commit to paying just an extra one percent (1%) of your income towards your debt payments. Time these automated payments to occur with your payday. Increase this extra payment by another one percent every six months. Keep doing this until you’ve wiped that debt from your life.

Automation Works for Me

A year ago, I set up $100 to move from my checking account to an investment account every month. And then I forgot about it entirely. Writing this post just now, I remembered I had this account! So, I took a look. This is what I found:

I completely forgot that I had this money.

I completely forgot that I had this money.

Here’s what saving $100 every month got me over the course of 12 months. I even earned a bit of an investment return!

In short, saving money does not mean having to create a budget, or be extremely mindful of your spending. To save money, take the easy way out: automate it!