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The personal savings rate is coming back from the brink of death, but there is little doubt most of our emergency funds could use a boost.
How do we save more? We all know we should cut the cable cord and drop the morning mochas, but those suggestions seem like work. So, rather than make saving a chore, make it a game.
Following are five ways to play the savings game.
Your first move, though, should be to make sure your savings account is earning as much interest as possible. That way, you ensure that every penny you save will earn you as much money as possible in interest payments.
One quick way to simultaneously compare the interest rates of various savings vehicles — from interest-bearing checking accounts to CDs — is to use Money Talks News’ savings account comparison tool.
Once you’ve revved up your savings account, you’ll be ready to make the most of these fun savings tricks:
1. Bank your deal savings and cash rebates
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The next time you score a deal, be it through shopping a sale or using a coupon, put the difference between the regular price and the discounted price in the bank.
This strategy can not only help you save more but also lead you to shop less. After all, those $50 jeans will still effectively cost you $50 in the end. So, this strategy can help you decide if something is really worth spending money on.
We break down how these portals work in “3 Websites That Pay You to Go Shopping.”
2. Never get a raise again
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Another painless savings strategy is to bank all of your raises. If you can pay your bills on your current income, you can simply send all that extra money straight to savings. The same goes for bonuses, cash gifts or other unexpected windfalls.
This method is especially easy if your employer allows you to directly deposit your paycheck into multiple accounts. You could set up a direct deposit to savings for the amount of the raise, and you’ll never miss it.
3. Take the 52-week savings challenge
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The idea is simple: Each week, save an amount of money based on the week of the year. So, the first week of the year, you put $1 aside; the second week, it’s $2; and the last week of the year, you save $52.
By the end of the year, you should have $1,378 in the bank, not counting any 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 backward to $1 for the last week.
4. Keep your own change
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If you use cash, don’t spend your change. Collect it in a jar and then deposit it into your savings account at the end of each month.
To take this savings strategy one step further, don’t spend $1 bills, either. Put them in your savings change jar, too.
5. Make money disappear from your checking account
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You might be able to use the change-jar strategy even if you don’t use cash.
Some banks offer options that essentially do the same thing as placing your change in a jar. For example, Bank of America’s Keep the Change Savings Program rounds up debit card purchases to the next dollar and then transfers the change to a linked savings account.
You don’t need a special bank program to do this, though.
For example, you could round up your daily transactions to the nearest dollar or even the next $5, and keep track of the difference. At the end of the month, transfer the month’s difference from your checking account to your savings account.
What’s your secret strategy, or your downfall, when it comes to saving money? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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