Life is full of making hard financial decisions, but saving shouldn’t be one of them.
If you ever feel like there are so many choices to make with your money that saving often gets left on the back-burner and nothing happens at all (aka decision paralysis), simply try automating your savings.
This way, you only have to make an active choice once, and you free up some mental space for other things, explains Perry Wright, a senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Common Cents Lab, a behavior science lab that focuses on the financial well-being of low income people.
“The best trick for saving is to eliminate the decision to save,” Wright says.
Below, CNBC Select breaks down how automating the act of saving makes it so you never have to think twice about it, plus one more savings trick from Wright.
How to eliminate the decision to save
If you have to make an in-the-moment decision to save or spend, you’re more likely to choose to spend, argues Wright, knowing you can always save later down the road.
Automating your savings makes sure that decision is already accounted for and requires little ongoing effort to prioritize when other things come up.
If you are paid through direct deposit, you can set up a percentage from your paycheck to automatically transfer into a linked savings account each time you get paid. If you have an inconsistent income stream, such as being a freelancer or contractor, schedule a recurring deposit from your checking account to your savings at a time in the month when you normally have a surplus of cash flow — maybe when your biggest recurring invoice gets paid. Or have all payments sent to your savings and auto-transfer just what you need to live on to your checking at regular intervals.
Making a habit of saving by automating it also comes highly recommended by finance expert Sallie Krawcheck. Once you set it and forget it, over time your funds will grow and you will have become accustomed to living off of a budget that accounted for saving for your future.
Wright’s other savings trick
In addition to automating your savings, Wright recommends creating separate accounts for different savings needs and goals to help you save more over time.
“We have a reluctance to spend money that is pre-assigned to categories or uses,” he says.
A high-yield option like the Ally Online Savings Account is a consumer favorite because account holders can organize their saving goals by creating up to 10 different “buckets” within the same savings account. For example, they can create a designated fund for a “Future Vacation” and another for “Emergency Savings.”
The savings account also has an easy-to-use mobile app and 24/7 live customer service that is available over the phone, through online chat or on the app.