Saving doesn't have to be tricky -- you just have to trick yourself into putting money away.
Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger's, the personal finance magazine, appeared on "The Early Show" with some basic tips on some surprising ways you can change your saving habits:
Change Your Banking Habits
Choose Debit or Credit Card:
Know your plastic personality. Disciplined credit-card holders can earn rewards points by using their cards for all their purchases and paying the bills in full each month. Consumers with less self-control may want to use debit cards to make sure that they don't spend more than they have. In either case, your monthly statement provides a handy record of areas where you're leaking cash. Go over it each month, and pay careful attention to it. As far as knowing your plastic personality, figure out if you are a good candidate to have credit cards (because you can easily be rewarded), or if your spending habits dictate that a debit card might be necessary (nothing will sneak up and surprise you at the end of the month).
Deposit in Savings:
Deposit your paycheck and other money to your savings account instead of checking. Make that the account you deposit into. You're much less likely to spend the money if you have to transfer it from savings to checking first. There is some sort of mental switch that happens when you think of savings versus when think about checking. It makes it difficult to spend and withdrawal flippantly.
Pay yourself after you've paid off a debt. Once you finish paying off a loan or credit-card balance, keep writing the check, but send it directly to a savings or investment account. If you can, try to hold to the same amount you were using to pay off the debt. Month by month, that money will build into a nice nest egg.
Round Up Debits:
When you subtract a check from your account, round up the amount to the next dollar. That way, you'll always have a slush fund. Your bank may even do this for you. Sounds like small potatoes, but even if it's only $100 every couple of months, that's still money in the bank. It's a simple way to sock money away without feeling any tightening of the belt.
Change Your Personal Habits:
One ATM Withdrawal Per Week:
Instead of hitting the cash-back button for $35 every time you go to the drugstore or supermarket, limit yourself to one ATM withdrawal per week, and make your money last. You will consciously try to limit your spending. Just set it out there as a goal, and see if you can stick to it. Perhaps before you go to the ATM for your weekly budget, you can try to have a number in mind that fits within your weekly budget.
Save Spare Change:
Toss your spare change into a fun savings bank or glass jar -- anything that will catch your eye and your quarters. I know one person who accumulates $900 to $1,000 a year this way and uses the money to buy holiday gifts.
Immediately Record Charges
When you make a credit card purchase, record it immediately in your checking account register. You won't be surprised when the credit card bill arrives, and you will have enough money to pay it in full. If you are responsible about recording debits and checks, you will have a much better grasp of what the end of the month is going to look like. It will make you a more conscious spender, and a better saver.
Can't decide between two items in a store? Give yourself a cooling off period. Chances are you won't go back. If you do go back and make the purchase after re-considering, you'll know it was meant to be.