‘Work smarter, not harder’ doesn’t just apply to your work to-do list. Learning a few science-backed tricks can help you pick up the pace on your savings goals, too.
I’m in. Where do I start?
By putting your savings on autopilot. Obvious, yeah. But it’s one of the best things you can do for your money.
Remember learning that “an object at rest stays at rest” in high school physics class? (Shoutout to Sir Isaac Newton.) That’s inertia, or the natural tendency to keep things status quo. Because, effort. It’s why you keep getting billed for that subscription you don’t use after your free trial ended. And why you’re less likely to stop saving after creating automatic transfers from checking to savings on payday. Finally, laziness pays off.
What else can I do from the comfort of my couch?
Nickname your savings account. Not just because it’s fun. Naming your savings helps you establish an emotional connection to your goal. Which science says is the key to making real progress. Some nickname inspo for your emergency savings: ‘Oh, F*#k Fund.’ ‘Plot Twist.’ Get creative.
What else do psychologists say about saving?
A lot. Here are more ways research says we can spend less and save more.
Go big. If cash is always burning a hole in your pocket, try swapping out your $1s and $5s for $20s. Research says you’re less likely to spend bigger denominations than smaller ones. I like big bills and I cannot lie.
Replace a bad habit with a good one. Bad habits usually make us feel good. So instead of cutting expensive habits cold turkey, create a new, better-for-you habit that also makes you happy. Experts call this technique ‘substitution.’ Think: every time you say ‘no’ to takeout, reward your savings account with a $5 deposit.
Let’s get visual. Psychologists have found that just imagining yourself hitting your goals can help you turn them into reality. So make a vision board or tape a pic of your dream vacation spot to the back of your credit card. That way, you’re reminded of what you’re saving for each time you pull out your wallet. Cheesy, but just go with it. Oh, and maybe download Face App. One study found that when people saw age-enhanced photos of themselves, they were more motivated to save for retirement.
Don’t touch this. If shopping is your saving kryptonite, try keeping your hands to yourself at the store. Research has shown that simply holding a product increases your likelihood of buying it.
Phone a friend. Researchers say buddying up with someone else who’s working on a similar goal can help you reach yours. Cheer each other on. Or make it a competition to see who can save more. Perfect approach for people who manage to make even Cards Against Humanity competitive AF.
When it comes to making smart money moves, mindset is everything. So if it feels like the grass is growing faster than your savings, get your mind right with some Bill Nye-backed habits that can help you get where you’re going a whole lot faster.