Saving money is key to accomplishing just about anything with it, from buying a house to building an emergency fund to retiring without a struggle. Unfortunately, saving can seem difficult -- especially when you aren't sure where to find extra funds to set aside.
The good news is that there are proven ways to boost the amount you're able to save. These five tricks will help you supercharge your savings so you can do big things with your money instead of just spending it.
1. Pay attention to the big stuff
Sometimes saving money is impossible because all of your cash is going to life's necessities. You may find yourself in this situation if you've over-committed to paying big costs.
While you can trim the fat and save a little, you likely won't have enough spare cash to save if your house or car is too costly. That's why most experts recommend spending no more than 30% of income on housing. And, as far as cars, borrowing to constantly have new cars is a surefire way to make saving impossible.
If you've got a home that costs too much, consider downsizing, finding a roommate, or listing your house on AirBNB. If you've got a car loan, pay it off ASAP and keep making car payments to yourself. Drive your car into the ground, then pay cash for an affordable new car while saving what you'd have spent if you traded in earlier or borrowed for something costlier.
The key is to keep fixed expenses to as small a percentage of your income as possible. When this leaves you a lot of cash, saving some of it is easy.
2. Make saving fun
Saving doesn't have to be a slog. In fact, you can make it a game.
Challenge your spouse to see who can have the most no-spend days during the month where neither of you spends a dime. Or set savings goals for yourself and find a fun way to track your progress, such as adding another lego to a lego tower every time you put $100 into savings.
Whatever approach works for you, making saving something you enjoy will leave you far more motivated than if you constantly feel you're sacrificing.
3. Simplify the process
Saving can feel like a lot of work, because most financial experts advise living on a strict budget to do it. And budgeting is necessary if you can't take control of your spending. But for some, living on a budget feels like dieting -- it's so restrictive that you're tempted to cheat.
The good news is that you don't have to budget for every dollar. You simply need to make saving a priority. If you pay fixed expenses first and set aside enough money to save for your future, there's no reason you can't do whatever you want with the rest of your cash without budgeting for where the money goes.
Of course, this only works if you don't go into debt! But if you can't live within your means without a budget, you can still simplify the process by making budgeting categories broader.
You could use a 50-30-20 budget instead of accounting for every dollar. This budget simply involves capping fixed expenses at 50% of income and wants at 30% so the remaining 20% is reserved for savings.
And you can even simplify the process of making sure you're sticking to your budget. Apps can help you track spending on different categories, or you could use the envelope system and put your designated funds into envelopes for each different kind of spending. You won't have to manually track where your money goes, because when the cash in the envelope is gone you're done spending on that category for the month.
4. Automate your savings
Do you have a hard time hitting your savings goals because something always comes up that you'd rather do with the money? If this sounds like you, you're making saving harder by forcing yourself to make the responsible choice time and again.
But you don't have to force yourself to transfer money to savings every month. Instead, automate the process. Set up your accounts so money is moved automatically into savings with every paycheck. You can set this up with HR for your 401(k), or with your bank or brokerage firm for other saving and investment accounts. Have the money taken out as soon as your paycheck arrives so you never get your hands on it.
When money goes right to savings, you don't have to choose between saving it and spending it -- it's already where it needs to be. And you can also automate other required monthly payments while you're at it, such as your mortgage and credit card bill. Automating everything makes it easier to live without a detailed budget, because you'll know all the money left in your account is for you to enjoy.
5. Increase your income
Finally, one of the single best ways to save more is to make more. If you need to save $500 per month to accomplish your financial goals, that's a lot easier if you make $5,000 than if you make $1,500.
There's no limit to how much you can earn to boost your savings rate -- and there's lots of ways to find extra income. You could ask for a raise if you've been with your company for a while; look for a better-paying job; or take on a side gig.
When you start earning extra, put it right into savings and keep living on the income you made before. You'll never get used to having the extra money, so saving it will be effortless.
Saving money doesn't have to be hard
While saving money seems difficult, it really doesn't have to be. Doing any one of these tricks can help you significantly boost your savings -- and you'll thank yourself later when you have the money you need to accomplish big things in your life.