Save Money By Taking Choice Out Of The Equation

If you struggle to put money away, it helps to eliminate personal choice by taking money out of your hands before you allow yourself to spend it. Getting saving to seem like something you have no control over makes it easier to set the funds aside and adapt your spending habits accordingly.

Budgets Are Sexy suggests these tips to automate your savings routine:

* Set up automatic transfers. Most online banking setups allow you to automatically shift money into savings accounts. Resist the urge to transfer it back into your checking account and you’ll be fine.

* Keep spare change in a jar. Don’t allow your coins to find their way underneath couch cushions. Keep it stored in one compartment, and when it comes time to convert the change into paper, deposit it at the bank rather than use one of those fee-grubbing converter machines.

* Make “ghost” car payments once you’ve paid off your loan. Once you pay off your car loan, continue socking away the same amount each month. Living beneath your means is the key to saving big.

9 Killer Savings Tips [Budgets Are Sexy]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Marlin says:

    Facepalm… Come on Phil, you can do better.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Butbutbut… trying is hard! D:

    • CanadianDominic says:

      Not everyone who reads Consumerist has been here for months, or even years. This sort of article appeals to new readers. I see no problem with this.

      I actually enjoy Phil’s posts, and they probably attract different types of readers, which means more activity on the Consumerist overall. Give the guy a break, or just skip over his articles.

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      It’s still way better than suggesting you write a poem instead of filling out the job application.

      • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

        I write sonnets on all my dollar bills; it makes them so pretty I don’t want to spend them.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Don’t most banks charge for those “savings” programs? Like a fee for transfering an amount to a savings account, or that one where they round up whatever purchase you make?

    It seems like a bad financial choice to make to pay someone to help you save money.

    • OSAM says:

      I’ve never heard of banks charging for it, though I’m not in the Good Ol’ US-of-A. Your banks suck donkey dick.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Um, okay. I’m in the US and I’ve never had any bank charge me for transferring money. You can keep your vitrol to yourself.

        • OSAM says:

          Sorry, how many banks were in the Worst Company contest? I rest my case.

          Whether the bank charges for this service or not, american banks, on the whole, suck.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      As far as I know our bank doesn’t charge for auto-transferring funds to savings accounts. We even have a program where they reward you for every savings milestone you reach ($50 gift card for reaching $1000, etc.)

    • tralfaz says:

      On the contrary, my savings accounts are free because I have a minimum amount transferred automatically each month. I believe $100 was the cut-off for Wells.

    • Necoras says:

      Why would a bank charge to encourage you to keep more money in their accounts? Certainly there’s money to be made through fees, but there’s just as much, if not more, to be made through investment. The more money you keep in your savings accounts the more money the bank can make through investing that money. You get a little bit of that through interest.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      my credit union certainly doesn’t. i can auto transfer to my savings, extra to the principal on my car payment and mortgage [it’s automatically applied to the principal without asking] and to my credit card with them. i love the convenience.

  3. OSAM says:

    Tip #3 here actually makes sense and is something a lot of people wouldnt normally consider. Stashing it away like that makes it invisible, and it ads up quickly.

    I’ve always kept my spare change in a jar, but that’s the OCD talking…

    • eeelaine says:

      I keep my spare change in a coconut shaped like a monkey head that I got as a novelty drink at a touristy place once. Decorative, and functional!

  4. maxamus2 says:

    Or just CONTROL YOUR SPENDING by buying stuff that you NEED and not want and taking care of the stuff you buy.

    Seriously, if you need tricks and gimmicks to save, it will never work. What eventually happens to all these people is they see a chunk of money in an account and buy that big ticket item they just HAVE to have.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Uh, no. The key to good habits is to make them habitual and easy, rather than inconvenient and unwieldy. If you can think of yourself as having less available money per month by setting up automated transfers, rather than seeing that $1000 in your main checking account and deciding to eat out, that’s thinking more sensibly about your money. By your thinking, people trying to diet should buy cake and other junk food and keep it in the house, just not eat it.

      • Coffee says:

        Agreed with you 100%…it seems that whenever there’s an article like this that suggests people train themselves to be more fiscally responsible by using a strategy, there’s always someone who advocates for people to just exercise more self-control or ignore the spending impulse. They don’t realize that behavior and cognition are so closely linked that changing behavior – even if it is by using a silly strategy – creates a feedback loop that can eventually affect cognition – how one thinks about saving.

    • CanadianDominic says:

      It works for some people. I gimmicked myself out of 7000$ in credit card debt. I switched to buying EVERYTHING on my credit card, and then paying the cost of the purchase the next day with an added 10%.

      If I bought groceries for 80$, I would make a payment the next day (online) for 88$. It took about a year with that little gimmick to pay off the debts, and the whole process got me “into” the idea of being a responsible spender and saver.

      Sometimes little neat tricks help us get started, or help us get to the next level. If it doesn’t work for you, then fantastic, but it doesnt make it a bad system simply by the virtue of the fact that you’re above it.

      • corridor7f says:

        Yep. For those particularly lacking in self-control – leave the wallet at home!

        Just bring your lunch, your driver’s license (if you drive) and you’re set.

        I did this while I was aggressively saving up for some oral surgery – laugh if you like – but it worked.

    • George4478 says:

      Yep. “Just” do that. Like fat people should ‘just’ eat healthy foods and ‘just’ exercise more.

      If a gimmick helps someone accomplish something which they are otherwise incapable of accomplishing, then good for them.

    • corridor7f says:

      They can seem like silly little mind tricks, but if it saves me money, I’ll try it.

      I’ll freely admit to almost shouting, “HOLEE SHIT, NO!”, at a teller when she offered to put a PayPass feature on my new debit card. I’m not a moron who throws money around, but I don’t want to make it too easy to blow money in small ways that can add up.

      Seriously, PayPass is some evil voodoo.

      • FLEB says:

        I don’t follow your problem with PayPass. Once you’re at the register, you’ve pretty much made your decision, I would think. The difference between sliding your card and tapping it (or, as my experience would reflect, mashing it repeatedly against the sensor, trying to get it to line up with where the RFID chip is) is minimal.

  5. speaky2k says:

    There is nothing wrong with using those “fee-grubbing converter machines” if you know how to work them. This holiday season I converted a bucket of change to an Amazon gift card and used that to buy almost all of my girlfriend’s presents (around $230). The only time you pay a fee is if you convert from coins to bills. Sometimes they even run specials for gift cards where you get an extra percentage added to your gift card. The only thing to remember is the same thing to remember with all gift cards… Only get them if you are going to use them, and use them quickly.

    • VintageLydia says:

      The ones here will give you a gift card for the grocery store it’s in for no fee. We gotta buy groceries anyway so it’s a pretty good deal.

    • George4478 says:

      I use Coinstar once a year to exchange about $100 in coins for Amazon gift certificates. Fee for doing this: $0. I think those machines are great.

      • dilbert69 says:

        I do this, too. A couple of times the machine was unable to contact Amazon’s servers for whatever reason, and I received a vouchers for cash from the supermarket’s till for no fee.

    • Auron says:

      My bank has it’s own “money-grubbing” change converter in both their traditional and grocery locations. They charge non-bank customers a 10% fee. However, there is no fee if you are a customer of theirs.

  6. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) has/had a modified savings account called ‘Way to Save’ which had a nice interest rate. Under Wachovia, you could only transfer a limited amount into the account ($1 for each ATM/Debit card transaction, and optionally $100 extra each month). Under Wells Fargo the interest rate is lower, but the deposit limits are apparently gone.
    There was/is no fee for this, but the savings account falls into the same rules as other savings accounts as far as a limited number of ‘free’ withdrawals (said to be federal rules).
    Other than that, no fees I see.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      my mom has this… but she got it with a checking account that require $2,500 min or direct deposit to avoid monthly service fee.

  7. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Alternatively, if your employer allows, set up your direct deposit to automatically put money directly into a savings account.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      My old employer would allow direct deposit into two (maybe three) accounts. You could do an amount for each if you were salary or % if you were an hourly peon like I was.

      It was a good way to save some money. I only put like 3% in savings, but over the 8 years it ended up being a decent amount.

  8. aleck says:

    Phil must have a thing for cute chicks who save money. It does not matter what they blog, it all sounds fascinating to him.

  9. j2.718ff says:

    What’s this “spare change” thing the article mentions?

  10. Not Given says:

    My checking account gets more interest than my bank’s savings accounts so I set aside money on paper in a different section of my register.

  11. sirwired says:

    The “Ghost” car payment thing is probably the best financial advice on here in a while, and it is indeed a damn good idea and a strong argument for keep the car well after it’s paid off.

    • corridor7f says:

      All my spare change goes towards laundry – I just can’t manage another jar, Gail Vaz Oxlade!

    • Yomiko says:

      I like this one, too. I am moving to a cheaper place next month and will be putting the difference towards savings. Also, every time I resist buying something I don’t need (ex: eat lunch at home, not out) I will put that money into savings instead. If I thought I could spend $5 on lunch, I can afford to put another $5 in savings.

  12. brinks says:

    The linked article suggests that “even” a hundred dolllars a paycheck is good start. How much does this blogger make per paycheck? I won’t be paying half my bills this month if I put a hundred bucks per check into a savings account. But I guess having my utilities cut off or being homeless will be a terrific way to save money.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Awww, man, I’ve been there. Here’s hoping you get raises or a better job soon!

    • corridor7f says:

      It’s true. When you’re making minimum wage or close-to-it, it’s incredibly painful to start any kind of meaningful savings plan.

      If you try and fail, it can even cost you if the plan you chose has any hidden fees or minimum balance requirements.

      So if you can manage to save a bit in these circumstances, consider keeping the bank out of the equation until you get that promotion.