Make It Automatic

young investors meeting outside

We can all say we want to save more and even write down goals that we are saving for, but so often our good intentions fall by the wayside when we’re tempted by an ad for a new pair of shoes or the latest tech gadget.   

This is where building good savings habits comes into play.   

You didn’t have to think about brushing your teeth today, did you? No, you just did it. It’s a habit that’s engrained in your subconscious that you do on a daily basis.   

It’s also satisfying. Don’t you love the minty fresh feel in your mouth after brushing your teeth? Did you know that mint sensation serves no purpose other than to “reward” you for brushing your teeth? 

How can we make saving as automatic and satisfying as brushing our teeth? 

Let’s start with making it automatic.  

If your company offers direct deposit, take advantage of it. Carve off a portion of your current direct deposit and have it go directly into your savings account.   

If your bank offers a no-fee savings account, you can open a savings account for your goal and have the money directed there. Some banks even let you name the account. Just having that visual of the name “kid’s college savings” or “post-COVID vacation fund” can be a great cue. 

If you don’t have direct deposit or can’t deposit to multiple accounts, set up an automatic transfer.  Something that lines up with your pay cycle works best. The idea is to get that money out of your account and into savings before you’re tempted to do something else with it.      

How is saving satisfying? 

Sure, the payoff at the end when you achieve your goal (whether it’s a vacation, new car or even retirement) is very gratifying, but what about the in-between time? How do you make the journey as satisfying as the destination? 

Create a ritual.   

Put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar that corresponds with every direct deposit or every transfer into your goal savings account, and record two things:  

  1. How much you have saved towards your goal 
  1. How far along on your savings journey you are 

It doesn’t need to be complicated. Something like, “I have $1,250 saved and I’m 25% of the way towards saving $5,000 for a vacation,” does the trick! 

That’s it. Sounds too simple to be effective, but here’s why it works. As a human race, we crave immediate satisfaction. That’s because we’ve spent a lot longer as hunter/gatherers than we have as savers, and our primitive brains haven’t caught up yet.  

The simple act of recording your progress when it happens provides that small amount of satisfaction to keep you striving towards your goal.   


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