As any successful saver can tell you, savings don’t just happen on their own. It takes discipline and practice to be able to save some money from every paycheck so you can meet your financial goals over time.
Luckily, there are some ways you can make it easier. One of the simplest ways to make savings a habit is to make it an automatic thing, something you do without even having to think about it.
Here are five ways to start meeting your savings goals with little effort:
1. Direct deposit
Virtually every employer offers direct deposit for paychecks. But did you know they can usually deposit part of your paycheck into a savings or retirement account, too?
Talk to your human resources office to see if you can automatically route part of every paycheck into savings. If you never see it show up in your checking account, you’re less likely to fritter it away by spending it. And if it happens automatically, every single time you get a check, you’ll know your savings will grow over time if you just leave your money alone.
2. “Round up” bank accounts
Yes, this is a marketing gimmick that some banks use to lure in customers, but it can actually help many people save money.
With these programs that “round up” your purchases to the nearest dollar, you can automatically transfer a few cents from every purchase into your savings account. That can add up to a lot of money over the course of a year.
Just be careful to watch your bank balance and make sure it doesn’t dip too low because of these transfers. An overdraft fee can wipe out any savings if you’re careless.
3. Card rewards
This is another gimmick that can bite you if you’re not careful — or be a nice reward if you’re cautious.
Some credit cards offer rewards for spending. You don’t want to carry a credit card balance, obviously, so if you can pay off the full amount every month it can be an easy way to save for a few perks. The key is discipline to make sure you keep credit card debt under control.
Luckily, some new debit cards are cropping up that offer similar rewards without the risk of falling into debt. They let you get rewards for your own routine spending, which is a nice feeling.
If you’re not taking advantage of your employer’s 401k plan, you should be.
Not only do these retirement plans offer an easy way to put money aside every single month, but they also typically grow tax free.
And because most employers offer some kind of matching funds to encourage you to invest, you’re simply leaving money on the table if you don’t participate in the 401k plan.
It’s the smartest move on this list.
5. Extra money
Finally, every time you get some extra money — say, a tax refund or a bonus from your job — it’s a good idea to put it directly into savings.
Even if you spend a portion of the extra money, it should be a part of your regular habits to save the bulk of it.
Remember, a lot of small windfalls over your lifetime can add up to a huge windfall when it’s time to retire.