Easy Ways to Get Serious About Saving

Simple tricks make your balance grow

Everyone knows they need to save money. But saving money can be a real challenge when your budget is tight: An unexpected expense here, another there, and oops, there's no money left to save. If you're falling short more often than not in the savings department and want to turn that situation around, this list is for you. Here are six ways to get serious about saving, and none of them is painful. Pick one or more and watch your savings account balance grow.

1
Set Up Auto-Draft

CheckBook software for mac
Splasm Software

Keep saving simple by taking yourself out of the equation. Use your bank's auto-draft feature to schedule regular transfers from your checking account to your savings account. Then sit back and let the bank handle all of the details for you. Before long you'll notice growing numbers in your savings account.

2
Hang Onto Your Change

Jar of Coins
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Saving change is far from a new idea, but there's a reason for that: It works. Make a habit of emptying all of your change into a jar each night. When the jar is full, deposit the money into your savings account. 

To boost your savings even further, make a game out of looking for coins in parking lots. It's even more fun to save when you're saving someone else's money.

3
Save Your Rebates

If you send in a lot of rebate offers, deposit those checks into a savings account rather than into your regular checking account. You aren't likely to miss the money, but you are likely to enjoy getting those savings statements in the mail.

4
Save Your Extra Checks

How to get a retirement paycheck.
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If you get paid weekly, you'll get five paychecks instead of four in several months during the year. Stick those extra checks in your savings account and forget about them. At the end of the year, you'll have a tidy sum saved.

5
Bank Your Raise

401(k)
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If you get a much-deserved raise from your boss at work, try your best not to think of it as an opportunity to super-size your lifestyle. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to super-size your savings. Increase the paycheck contribution to your 401(k) retirement savings account by the amount of your raise or set up an auto-draft from your checking account to send that extra amount to your savings account. Then keep trucking on with your current lifestyle.

6
Hide Your Money

Money Market Mutual Fund
One of the most popular ways to invest excess cash reserves is to use a money market mutual fund. These investments are pools of cash equivalents including commercial paper, certificates of deposit, Treasury bills, and money market funds. Maria Toutoudaki / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Accessible money is money that's likely to get spent. Keep your savings out of reach by depositing it at a different bank than your checking account or in a money market account at an investment house, where you are also likely to make a bit more in interest. The extra hassle will make you think twice about spending it.

Certificates of Deposit and savings bonds are also good savings tools for keeping money out of sight and out of reach since there are limitations on withdrawal of funds from these financial instruments.