7 Ways to Kick-Start a Winning Saving Habit (Start Now!)

Savings is defined as “income that is not consumed immediately by buying goods and services.”

Do you have any personal savings?

The rate of personal savings is way down here in the US.

We just aren’t saving our money.

You’d think with the recent downturn in the economy and the drop in housing values that people would begin saving more. You just don’t see it in the numbers.

So, if you currently don’t have any savings…or, maybe you have some savings, but you’ve stopped and find it hard to get back on track, then it’s time to kick start your savings habit.

Here are some great ways to start saving money today:

Is your savings running low or completely empty? Here is PT's list of 7 ways to kick start your savings! These are easy ideas for anyone to try.

1. Tax Refund

It’s tax time. Expecting, or already received, your tax refund? Why not skip the big purchase this year and use that money to get started saving?

If you have a refund, the Government has essentially been holding your money for you in a forced savings account. Why not just take it from them and put it into a savings account of your own?

2. Bonus and/or Raise

Did you get a bonus or raise at work recently. Commit today to put that money in savings (bonus) or increase savings percentages (raise) to your 401K or other automatic savings plan.

An old boss of mine once shared with me that if he could have continued to live off of the salary he made early in his career and simply saved every raise and bonus he had received, he would have become a very, very wealthy man.

Live within your means and avoid spending more when you make more.

3. Dine-In (at Home) Only

If you are the type that dines out a lot (4-5 times) during a week (which more of us are these days), then you could quickly come up with more money to save by simply grocery shopping and eating at home more.

Make a commitment to eat at home for one full week and see how much money you suddenly have for savings. Do this two weeks out of the month and you’ll have no more excuses for not saving. Also, when you do dine out, spend less.

4. Find a Freelance Side Gig

One of the best ways to start saving money today is to add to your income by taking on a freelance opportunity. Work at night or on the weekends and put your profits straight into your savings account. Consider an app like Qapital to help you automatically save your earnings.

You don’t have to do this forever, but it could be a great way to give your savings account the initial boost you need. Who knows, you may end up liking the gig and turn it into a small business for yourself.

5. Sell Your Crap

If you’re like me, you’ve got way too many DVDs, CDs, Books, and other stuff you’re not using just laying around the house. Why not list some of those items on eBay, or the free (local) service craigslist.org?

You could also use a store like Half-Priced Books to return the items OR just have an old-school garage sale. Commit to start a savings account based on what you make from these sales.

6. Start with Free Money

Saving money is easy when you get it for free. There are lots of incentives out here to start saving more…bank bonuses for example. I happen to use Capital One’s 360 Savings Account for my short-term savings.

They will give you a $50 bonus if you get started with $1 in one of their savings accounts.

7. Make it Automatic

Lastly, I’d share that one of the best ways to save money consistently is to do it automatically. By automating your savings you take the pressure off of yourself to be disciplined enough to do it alone. No habits needed.

Whether it’s through your company’s 401K or direct deposit into a savings account, setting it up automatically can be a powerful way to increase your savings ability. Good luck getting started.

I know I missed a few. Do you have any other ways to kick-start the saving habit? How did you do it?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. On dining out / eating in – Americans are faced with many, many choices and a lot of “manufactured” needs.  This week I challenged myself on feeding my family for 1/3 of what we usually spend (so take $300 down to $100).  I was worried that the kids would not like it.  Guess what?  They love the simple home cooked meals as well as the home-made treats and bread.  I couldn’t imagine that I could get by on so much less until I tried.  And I certainly don’t get the same kind of satisfaction from dropping pre-packaged snacks in their lunch bags as I do putting in a piece of a home baked item.  Yes, it takes a bit more time, so less of facebook and more nutrition for the kids and more money saved = worth it!

  2. Ecochemist says

    One thing that has helped us is to call and negotiate with all your service providers. Cable, alarm, pest control and cell phone. You will be amazed what they will do if they feel you will be going to a competitor. Cable was cut in half, alarm is now 25 a month and used to be 40, same with the pest control and I was put on a Corporate plan with a discount on the cell phone plan. Now I did have to commit to a long term plan but I had no plan on changing anyways. All in all it has saved us 85 bucks a month. And it goes a long way.
    Second thing we do is price match our groceries. We write out our meals for the week including all the ingridients then we look for the best price in the ads for that week and at the register at Walmart we tell them of these prices and they match it! It has saved us 200 dollars a month. 2400 a year we can add to our savings!

  3. IAmDebtProject says

    I’m a “spell it out exactly” kind of person, so I finally started saving in 2012 when I realized I wasn’t even saving 1% of my income in an untouchable savings account. I finally said I DON”T want to always be zeroing out my savings just to take a trip or pay a bill or cover an auto repair. I want something that is really just going to sit there (and maybe grow a little on its own too) That kind of thinking was just not part of my old ways, so since January I have been doing automatic transfers to my ING account with every paycheck. I’m always a little close at the end of the month but instead of dipping into my savings, I figure out a way to come up with everything I need for bills without touching savings or using credit. It’s not easy, but it’s encouraging to have gone over a month without dipping into savings! 

  4. A few others could be — brown bag your lunch, try to let the boss allow you to work from home once or twice a week to save on gas, or use a site like Storably.com to rent out available space.

  5. A few others could be — brown bag your lunch, try to let the boss allow you to work from home once or twice a week to save on gas, or use a site like Storably.com to rent out available space.

  6. HollyHewittCantu says

    Automatically have money going into savings out of every paycheck and only check it every 3 months so I have less of a chance of wanting to spend it. My husband and I own our own business so the company treats us to dinner once a week. At least half is deductible. Otherwise crockpot does most of our cooking.

  7. I’m a big fan of the loose change savings account.

  8. Yeah, getting rid of stuff in your garage you don’t need and around the house is a great idea. Selling it or put it up for sale online can bring in extra money.

  9. Good idea, Studenomics. Stay warm up there.

  10. I live in Canada and it has officialy snowed for the first time. My own piece of advice is to suggest that you shovel your own drive away instead of outsourcing this simple task.

  11. Wow, the last time I dined out was on a 2 Cheeseburgers for $2 deal at Macca’s?
    (Just kidding, we did treat ourselves earlier this month at a wonderful Thai restaurant on Brunswick St, Carlton (MELBOURNE CITY – AUSTRALIA)
    I received my tax cheque which I SPENT straight away on some highly watched & researched shares on the Aussie Market – boy that felt good!
    No debt – increasing savings day by day!

  12. @pete – that’s the biggest “budget buster” for us as well. seems many people are spending more and more on dining out. i remember when I was young we dined out *maybe* two or three times a MONTH.

  13. Pete @ biblemoneymatters.com says

    Number 3 is the biggest for us. We eat out MORE than 5 times a week unfortunately. Starting in june we’re going to have a budget of $100 to eat out every month, so we’ll have to cut back. I’m positive we’ll have more savings after making that change.

  14. Great guide! Thankfully my parents had me saving since I was young. I always look forward to bonuses so I get to invest more 🙂

  15. #3,
    The food in our office canteen is way too expensive and the bad thing is, it isn’t delicious. So me and my buddies decided to prepare our own meals.

    I have an auto deduct in my salary directly to my savings account. And I promised never ever to touched it unless I badly needed it

  16. @Frugal Dad – Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Frugal Dad says

    Excellent ideas for jump-starting a savings plan! We plan to use a combination of the economic stimulus check and some snowflaking (eBay, private sale or two, etc.) to double our current emergency fund.

  18. Todd from WealthBlocks.com says

    along the lines of Ebay – try a yard sale. we always get more than $200 from ours. if you dont have time for ebay, find the closest dropoff spot. my tool will help you see the future value of your savings.

  19. No problem on the mention, Patrick. Your summary was excellent. Why duplicate great content, right?

    I agree that half-priced doesn’t pay much, but every little bit helps and if it kick starts a saving habit then i’m all for it.

  20. Great tips. I don’t recommend going to Half Price books though… you won’t get much money from them. In many cases it would be better to donate your items to the local library. You will providing them for many people to use, and you will also get a tax deduction for them.

    This is what I plan on doing after taking my books and DVDs to Half-Price Books. Half-Price Books just can’t offer a lot of money for good items because few people want to pay much for used items. That’s just the way their business plan works.

    Thanks for the mention. 🙂