Whether you're a novice or a money saving expert, there are always some new tricks you can learn to optimize your savings. Sometimes you need to outsmart your brain to start accumulating extra cash. And sometimes, you just need to set some personal ground rules.
Learn what happens if you obsess over money.
Improve Your Relationship With Money
When you're searching for sharp ways to save money, you first might need to assess your relationship with it. In her book ("You Are a Badass at Making Money"), author Jen Sincero suggests writing a letter to money. Analyze whether those words are positive or negative. Then, rewrite any negative words.
Your relationship with money is just like any other — you need to nurture it to grow. Consider writing any number of letters to money until you get the words and relationship right.
You can't be a money saving expert overnight — you need to start small. Try saving apps like Qapital to begin your saving journey. It rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and saves the extra cash.
You can also set up fun money saving rules, such as the "spend less run," so whenever you spend less than $25 on takeout a week, for example, the remainder goes toward your savings.
Sleep On It
Without proper sleep, your decision-making capabilities diminish, and the chance of riskier monetary behavior arises. When you're contemplating a big purchase, take the evening to sleep on it, especially for complex decisions. When you're sleeping, your unconscious mind processes the information from the previous day and analyzes it while you're dreaming.
When you wake up, if you're having second thoughts about spending the money, it might be the subconscious urging you to reconsider.
Pretend You Make Less
You don't know what you've got until it's gone, which is why blinding yourself to your true income can be a creative way to save money. Set up an automatic transfer of a percentage of your income into your savings account if your paycheck is directly deposited into your checking account.
And, take advantage of any available employer-sponsored retirement plans — another automated savings vehicle. Additionally, you can set up a savings account at a separate bank, so you're not tempted to transfer money back to your checking account.
Contemplating interesting ways to save money? Try associating your next big splurge with accomplishing a personal goal such as improving your health. For example, say you want to lose 15 pounds or exercise every day for a month.
Make yourself a promise that once you achieve that goal, you can treat yourself. In the meantime, periodically start saving money until you reach that goal and allocate a percentage of those savings to your splurge.
The Stranger Test
Still not sure if that next purchase is really worth it — try the stranger test. Picture a stranger holding in one hand your next purchase — say for a new pair of shoes — and in the other hand, the cash equivalent of your splurge. If that cash looks more enticing, then you probably should skip the shoes and save the money.
Tap Your Competitive Side
Join a savings challenge that will push you to put more money away. A short savings sprint might be all you need to secure an emergency fund — and a finish date can help you push through.
Or, try the 52-week savings challenge. Each week for a year, you save one dollar more than you did last week — meaning, at the most, you'd set aside an extra $52 on the last week. By the end of the year, you'll have saved a comfortable $1,378 emergency fund.
Rationalize Your Purchases
Time is money, and your money equals your time. Instead of thinking of a purchase as a monetary transaction, consider it as an exchange of your time.
For example, say you want to buy $100 pair of jeans and you make $20 per hour. Are those five hours worth a single pair of jeans? Ask yourself this before your next purchase.
Visualize Your Goals
Visualizing your goals might sound "new age" to some, but there is evidence to suggest it really works, particularly in sports research. Athletes use imagery to visualize their perfect run, jump or lift, and you can use it to motivate you to save money. First, imagine what you want to save for, then visualize how you will effectively save — such as setting aside a certain amount from each paycheck. Then, hopefully, those thoughts will turn into habits, effectively rewiring your brain.
Automate Your Bills
Other effective ways to save money include automating your bills and expenses by scheduling recurring payments. Then, go through last year's bank statements, add up the total amount of money you spent on late or overdraft fees and commit to saving the same amount in a savings account this year.
Consider using apps such as Mint to help automate your bills. It allows you to automate payments through the app as well as keep a close eye on the progress of your savings with reminders and spending reports.
Keep reading about specific ways to save money.
This article was originally published on GOBankingRates.com.