1. Have money automatically deposited to your 401(k), savings account, or college savings account. This is a more sure way to build your savings. Although fewer than 40% of savers do this, it is easier to exercise self-control if your money is less available.
2. Each time you get a raise in pay, send half of the monthly amount to a savings or retirement account. You won’t miss the money and you’ll be amazed at how it builds your savings.
3. Assign meaningful names to your savings goals so they seem tangible. People who label their savings accounts with specific goals, such as “retirement fund,” “anniversary trip,” or “college fund for Susan” put away 31% more money than those who don’t make the goals specific. You may want to attach a picture to these goals to remind you of their importance.
4. Make a commitment contract to reach your savings goals. Enlist a buddy to hold you accountable and provide you a reward when you reach your goal. If a reward doesn’t work, try a penalty. Use stickK.com to enter your goals and authorize the site to charge a set amount to your credit card if you fail to hit your target. This amount will then be sent to someone or something you don’t like—such as a political candidate you hate.
5. Connect to the future you. People are reluctant to sacrifice spending today for the sake of something in the future. So connect with it emotionally to make it real. Visualize your older self using AgeMyFacePro and imagine your dream retirement if you had saved enough. Then determine what steps you can take to make the vision happen. Spend time with old folks and really consider their situation.
6. Get a projection of how much income your savings will provide you in retirement. Use a calculator at cnnmoney.com or troweprice.com to convert your current savings balance to future income. Those who do this usually realize their retirement income won’t be sufficient and they increase their annual savings by $800.
For more ideas, see “Forge Good Habits” in Money magazine, July 2012, p. 59, 62, 63.