5 ways to painlessly add to your savings account every day

If you’re one of the many people out there trying to work on building up an emergency savings account, well, it can seem daunting. How the heck are you supposed to save up six months’ of expenses? I mean, if you spend $2,000 a month on housing, food etc, you need to save up $12,000! It can’t be done!

Now whoa there old girl. Actually, it can be done. I did it, and I’m lazy and selfish and spoiled. I’m sure you can do it too. Heck, if you do it right it can even be relatively painless. Here are five ideas for saving without suffering.

1. Use a debit order/auto transfer

This idea relies on the principle of “if you don’t have it, you won’t miss it.” Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account for the day after your salary hits your bank account – if you’re doing a good job of budgeting, you should have a good idea of how much you can afford to save each month.

Make sure that savings amount is the first thing that goes out of your account. If you don’t have it in your checking account, you won’t spend it. And if you budget well, you won’t even miss it, in much the same way that I don’t miss the glamorous Hollywood career that I never had.

2. Use a coin jar

In my house there are two coin jars, one for me and one for my husband. The idea is that at the end of the day, we empty out our wallets and pockets, and stash all our spare change in the jars, although for some reason he refuses to place coins inside the jar, preferring to stash them on random surfaces throughout our house – I assume he sees it as a fun, hide-and-seek type game for me.

Now, this may seem a little silly, but you’d be surprised how fast it adds up. I’ve been using a coin jar for years, and cashing it in whenever the jar is half full, and I think the lowest amount I’ve had was $98 – that means I’m adding an easy $100 to my savings every couple of months. It’s not a huge amount, but it does help.

My bank offers a coin deposit service, where you go to one of those fun coin-counting machines, drop your coins in, and get a slip with the amount on it which you can deposit straight into your account (you also usually discover that you have mysterious coins from Canada and Brazil in your jar, or maybe that’s just me?). If your bank doesn’t offer this service, you could look for a nearby CoinStar machine. Alternatively, you could count the coins yourself, transfer the amount from your checking to your savings, and pay all your bills with pennies for a few weeks. You could be that guy.

3. Use a “round up” account

Recently, I talked about a cool app that lets you invest small amounts by rounding up your daily transactions and saving the difference. If you don’t want to take your chances on a random iPhone download, however, you can still tap into this smart savings trick. Many banks offer savings accounts that will do the same thing – they’ll track your debit card transactions, round them up, and transfer the difference to your savings account (First Citizen’s Bank does it, for example). If you are ridiculously diligent, you could even do it yourself.

4. Use a personal rewards program

This is a labor intensive but really fun way to save – I admit, my idea of fun may not be yours. Basically, whenever you are tempted to buy something you haven’t budgeted for and you resist (no latte for me!), you make a note and add $1 to your savings account (or whatever amount you’d like). It gives you an instant reward for having resisted temptation, it adds to your savings account, and it gives you a way to track your thrifty awesomeness – “I have $30 in my reward jar! I am the best ever!”

5. Use your cash back rewards

If you use a credit card for daily transactions (which is fine, but you best pay that off in full every month you hear?), you probably get some kind of rewards points. If you don’t switch cards – here are some great options and here are some more. I usually use my points to pay back part of my balance, but you can take your points as cash back, and deposit that cash straight into your savings account. It’s a nifty way to save and, provided you’re paying your balance off every month, you can enjoy the smug sense of satisfaction that comes from getting paid to use your credit card (that sense is the main reason I have a credit card).

Follow some or all of these tips, and watch your savings pile up!