The Best Ways to Automate Saving

We all know we need to save, but sometimes it’s hard to do. It’s easy to talk yourself out of saving for the future because, let’s be honest, money is usually tight now.

Whether you need to save money for college, a home purchase, retirement, or any number of personal reasons, remember that you won’t reach your savings goals unless you actively set money aside.

It’s a terrifying statistic that “more than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings,” as reported by USA Today. Of those who do have savings, “67% have less than six months’ worth of expenses.” This means that twenty-five percent of all Americans will enter retirement having no means of income. Those who do have money saved won’t have much to live off of, either.

No one cares about your financial future as much as you do. If you have a bad habit of talking yourself out of saving, or just don’t have time to think through what may seem like complicated details, then try to automate your savings plan as much as possible, making it “out of sight, out of mind.”

Let go of your short-sighted financial plans and look to the future. Don’t find yourself facing retirement without any savings accounts. Use the following methods for automated savings so that you’ll one day reach your personal savings goals.

Automate your debt repayment plan

The first step to an effective savings plan is to get out of debt. While it’s possible to save while you’re paying off debt, you’ll be able to save more quickly once you’re debt free. Use automated payment structures to reach total debt payoff sooner than you would if you were paying just once a month towards your balances.

The perfect example is student loan repayment. Many times, consumers get an interest rate reduction for setting up automatic monthly payments. While credit cards don’t typically offer the interest reduction, you still should consider automating your monthly payment (and contributing even more to your payment so you can pay off debt faster).

Automate deductions from your paycheck

A great way to save is to never see the money in the first place. If you receive your salary via direct deposit into your banking account, talk to your work’s accountant and ask about structuring a split deposit. They’ll simply need the account number and routing number for your saving’s account to be able to set up two separate direct deposits. If you make $2000 per pay period, for example, ask for $1800 to be directly deposited into your checking account with the remaining $200 going directly to savings.

Schedule periodic transfers

Direct deposit into savings is great if it’s an option, but it doesn’t work as well when you get paid by check or have your own business. If that’s the case for you, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account.

To do this, simply contact your bank and let them know that you would like to automate transfers either weekly or monthly. You can set up your transfers to match your pay days or set up whatever day is most convenient for your budget.

Utilize your bank’s spare change savings programs

See if your bank has a spare change savings program. These savings programs are a great way to nickel and dime your way to savings, literally. Whenever you make a purchase using your debit card, your bank will automatically round the purchase up to the nearest dollar and transfer that money into your savings account. For example, if you spend $1.10 at the dollar store, your bank would transfer $0.90 into your savings account. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the savings add up.

Use an automated checking to savings program

Similar to the point above, using an automated checking to savings program is a great way to work with your bank to help yourself put more money into savings. Wells Fargo, for example, has an automated savings option for Wells Fargo account holders called Way2Save. This savings account option allows you to transfer daily payments of $1 or more and monthly payments of $25 or more from your linked Wells Fargo checking account automatically.

With Way2Save, you can also use the Save As You Go option. This method will transfer $1 from your checking account to your savings account any time you make a debit card purchase, pay a bill online, or have an automatic payment deducted from your linked checking account.

Ignore bonuses and pay raises

It’s normal to feel like you don’t make enough money to save for the future. However, when you get a bonus or pay raise, it’s easy to forget about your savings goals. Instead of using any excess money for vacations or fun purchases, try to ignore the fact that you have had an increase in income. Keep living off of the same amount you had before the increase, and change your automated payment structures to funnel the extra directly to savings.

Intentionally overpay taxes

Overpaying your taxes every year is one way to ensure that you’re setting money aside. Especially for independent contractors and entrepreneurs, overpaying your quarterly estimated taxes will help give you a decent refund which you can put into savings at the end of the fiscal year.

Keep in mind, this isn’t an ideal or optimal financial strategy (it’s mathematically better not to get a refund), but if you struggle to save actively, this might be a good “hands off” strategy for you.

Save your credit card rewards

If you’re able to pay your credit card balance on time and in full every month, start making your credit purchases with a cash-back rewards card. Automatically deposit any cash back rewards you receive from your credit card into a savings account.

Use a budgeting app

If you enjoy the ease, mobility, and versatility of mobile apps, the following budgeting and savings apps could be a great method for your to start saving more of your income.


Acorns is an automated savings app that lets you invest spare change automatically from everyday purchases into a diversified portfolio. You can also use the app to save a lump sum or set daily, weekly, or monthly recurring amounts if you want to save more.


Digit is a mobile, automated savings app that helps you save without thinking about it. Every few days, the Digit app looks at your spending patterns and will move a few dollars from your checking account into your Digit account, if you can afford it. Digit automatically figures out when to transfer and how much is safe for you to save, based on your lifestyle and spending.

Plenty Fi

Plenty Fi (formerly SavedPlus) is an automatic, personal savings platform that allows you to transfer money to your savings account automatically and set up automatic investments or payments every time you spend money. All you have to do is connect your bank, specify your source and destination accounts, and let the app do the rest.


Simple is a fantastic banking and savings app which will help you to automate your payments. Simple’s slogan is “the way banking should be.” With simple, you get a Simple Visa® Card, a fee-free account, and awesome budgeting and saving tools which you can access from the web or your mobile device.

Pay yourself first

Get used to paying yourself first. Treat automated savings like you would treat any other bill. Don’t skip it because you can. Treat savings like the serious financial matter that it is. Do better than the national average, and don’t find yourself facing retirement will less than six months’ worth of living expenses in savings.

Remember, when you automate your savings, you only have to make the decision to save one time, and you’ll reap the benefits for as long as you have your accounts automated.

Stop selling yourself and your future short by only thinking about your short-term financial needs. Your future self will thank you once you have reached your savings goals.

How do you like to automate your savings? Which strategy works best for you?

Kristi Muse is a family finance writer who loves talking about strategies to save money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life. She shares her experiences about debt, parenthood, and life as a law-enforcement family on her blog Moderate Muse. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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