5 Ways to Game Yourself Into Saving Cash

Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are five easy ways to put more cash in the bank. (If they seem gimmicky, it’s because they are!)

The personal savings rate may be rebounding, but there is little doubt most of our emergency funds could use a boost.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans socked away 5.5 percent in January. That’s a vast improvement from the 2 percent we saved in May 2005, but a far cry from the double-digit rates in the 1960s and ’70s.

So how do we save more? Yes, we all know we should cut cable and drop the morning mochas, but those suggestions seem like work, right?

Rather than make saving a chore, make it a game instead.

From our Solutions Center: Find a better checking account in seconds

Here are five ways to play the savings game:

1. Take the 52-week savings challenge

If you have a Facebook account and more than 10 friends, you probably saw this one floating around the social media world in December and January.

The idea is simple: Save a dollar for every week of the year. So the first week, you put $1 aside, the second week it’s $2, and the last week of the year, you save $52. Make sense? By the end of the year, you should have $1,378 in the bank, maybe a little more if your savings account gives you a smidge of interest.

Of course, you can always customize this. Maybe you want to double the amount and do $2 for Week One, $4 for Week Two and so on. Or if you’re worried about running out of steam by the end of the year, you could start with $52 for the first week and then work your way backward.

2. Keep your own change

For those using a cash envelope system, limit yourself to only spending bills. Put your change in a jar and then roll it up at the end of the month and deposit it in your savings account.

If your finances allow, you can take this savings strategy one step further. Spend only bills that are $5 or larger and put the $1 bills in your savings change jar, too.

More Money Talks News


  • Dale

    I purchased (for just a buck fifty) one of those ginourmous plastic home water dispenser bottles. All I had to do was keep dropping coins (and the occasional two dollar bill) into it. It was a 24/7/365 habit. In about six months I had almost two thousand dollars. Painless, easy and hardly noticeable until I replaced a blown appliance with that dough AND started a second retirement account with the rest.

  • Dale

    Guess you kinda missed the request here to “keep it civil”. I didn’t, so you’re on ignore.

    • I.Popoff

      Sorry to point out your exaggeration, but I don’t think there was anything uncivil about my comment.

      • Dale

        Someone admin did or it wouldn’t have been deleted. What exaggeration are you referring to besides your own?

        • I.Popoff

          I deleted it in consideration of your objection. However, I still find it hard to believe you had enough spare change in your pocket every day to add up to two thousand dollars in six months. That would be about eleven dollars each day. But perhaps you are a vendor of some sort, work out of a cash box and accumulate a lot of coinage each day.

          • Dale

            I made a statement about my experience. Whether you choose to believe it or not is not my concern.

            What IS my concern is being told that my experience is an exaggeration by some cyber stranger. You know nothing of me or my professions nor do I know you. If you had stated that my comment sounded like an exaggeration to you I might have felt less offense. But that is not what you did.

            The words we share here (and perhaps a picture) are all that anyone knows of any of us. I try to use them carefully. Perhaps you should consider doing the same.

          • I.Popoff

            So much for spontaneity.

          • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

            I’m happy to see spontaneity take a back seat to civility.

  • Dale

    I love number three. I’ve used this strategy when I couldn’t save at my normal rate. But I wonder why anyone would wait until the end of the month to balance their checkbook?? I balance weekly because of many small transactions. I’m still saving into that big water jug, too! ;-))

    • Jcatz4

      The usual time to balance a checkbook would be when you receive your bank statement monthly. Recording each transaction you make and subtracting them from your checking acct. balance as the month goes on makes sense but you balance a checking acct. because of outstanding checks that haven’t cleared your acct.

      • Dale

        I can, of course, see that. Maybe I’m a bit obsessive about it but I keep all my receipts dated for the same month together in an envelope and reconcile weekly. I’ve caught the bank lying about what was subtracted from my account that way. After reading about all the charges filed by the Consumer Protection Bureau I don’t trust others to handle my money honestly. Sad statement whether for me or the world but quite true.

        • Jcatz4

          Everybody has their own way of doing things. I haven’t kept a check register for many years. I know that may sound crazy but since I very seldom write checks (abt. 12 a yr.), charge everything that I can because I earn a little cash back bonus (of course, I have to pay balances on cards in full each month to make that work in my favor) and I set up all of my bills to be paid through my online banking. I rarely use my ATM debit card. I can go to my online banking at anytime to see what has been deducted from my acct. and to make sure that everything is ok. So far so good.

          • HautePepper

            I do the same. I don’t even remember the last time I wrote a check or even had a check book. Every time I use my debit card, I get an automatic, immediate notification on my phone that the exact correct amount of money has been recorded. The notification links to the bank and I can see every transaction in real time. Since the notification comes immediately at the time of purchase, I always have the receipt in hand and can easily see that it’s correct. Everything is done for me.

  • Lori Kemer

    I used to clean my change purse out every evening, putting only the pennies in a jar. I only used bills, thereby keeping all my change in my coin purse. By Christmas time each year, I had saved enough to buy 6 live Christmas trees for our home, one in each child’s bedroom, one in the living room, family room and entryway. These were not small trees but rather 6′ – 7′ trees. I can only imagine what I could have saved if I threw all my change into that jar. Since I am now retired and on a fixed income, it is a little harder to save but I am going to try my old technique along with some of the others mentioned above.

  • eyeRollz

    My credit union has automatic transfers that you can set up. I set up a weekly transfer from my checking account to a savings account for a couple of dollars. Over time I increased the amount by a dollar every now and then. I don’t notice the money leaving the account and I now some money in case I need it.

  • Lorilu

    I save my change, and take it to the bank to be counted in the machine (which is free for bank customers). Then I take the printed voucher to the teller and deposit the money immediately in my account.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,700 more deals!