This month we'll be sharing solutions that are so simple and easy—and at times, automated—that they feel like magic. Hocus Pocus celebrates all the small ways you can trick yourself into living a better life.
Between bills and expenses, it can feel like your money is just disappearing each month, making saving anything feel totally impossible. Saving money can be challenging, but there are plenty of tricks and tools you can incorporate into your daily life that can help you put small amounts aside without really putting that much thought into it.
Keep a Coin Jar
If you're like me, you probably accumulate a lot of change that you almost never use. It may seem like too simple of a solution, but if you don't already have a coin jar or a piggy bank—preferably in a place where you'll remember to add your change to it when you walk in the door—it might be time to get one. Whenever your coin jar fills up, make sure you take it to cash it in (and put it immediately in your savings account.)
You might think you don't have any money to put aside, but think about it like this: would you be able to save one dollar this week without it really affecting you? You probably wouldn't even notice that extra dollar, so start small and gradually increase how much you save each week by one more dollar for a year. For the first week, you set aside one dollar, then two the second week, three the third, and so-on. Eventually, you'll be setting aside larger and larger amounts per week that will add up. If you can follow that formula for an entire year—52 weeks—you'll save up more than $1300.
Save Your Savings
You know how when you go shopping and use a store discount card or coupons, you can see the total amount you've saved on the bottom of your receipt? Every time you save money on your purchases, transfer the amount you've saved to your savings account—of course, this might not work for purchases where you save a lot, but those smaller discounts can add up in your bank account over time.
There are tons of money-saving apps out there, but two that can really help you with minimal effort are Digit and Qapital. Digit links up with your bank account and pays attention to your spending patterns, then determines an amount it thinks you can save every day—if you accept Digit's recommendation to set aside that money, it'll automatically transfer it into your savings account everyday, at no extra cost to you. Qapital also connects to your bank account, and allows you to create different "if this then that" type saving rules—for example, you can set it to automatically round up your purchases and set aside the leftover change from them, or you can set it to save a set amount of money every time you post a photo to Instagram.
Try Automatic Transfers
One of the easiest ways to add money to your savings is to set up regular automatic transfers from your checking account. Figure out how much money you can feasibly set aside each month, then set up the transfers for when makes sense for you—I set up my transfers for monthly, but weekly might be better if you don't want to notice it's gone. You can still access the money if you wind up needing it, but otherwise, it's an effortless way to add money to your savings.
Use a Cash Rewards Card
Many credit card companies offer cash rewards cards, so when you use them, you earn cash back that you can either add to your bank account or use to make payments on your credit card statement. All you have to do is use your card the way you would normally use your credit card, and you won't just save money—you'll earn it back.
Forget About Your Raise
If you've recently gotten a raise at your job or are up for one soon, try to pretend like it didn't actually happen and just continue budgeting and spending the way you would with your old salary. Put the extra money from your promotion right into your savings account—this might even be another way those automatic transfers can come in handy.