When it comes to setting money aside, it's easy to rationalize putting it off. So, it often helps to have some of your money put in savings automatically before you have the opportunity to spend it.
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(Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Have you ever stopped to consider the potential "future value" of the money you spend today? That is, if you were to save it rather than spend it, what would it be worth as you near retirement, say in 20 years?

For example, let's say you spend $7 each workday for lunch on the job. What if you decided to fast just once a week and save that $7 rather than spend it? Over 20 years, you would accumulate $7,280. Not bad. But if you were to invest that $7 a week in a Roth IRA earning 6 percent, your small weekly investment would grow to . . . (drum roll) . . . $14,078!

Surprised? We thought so. Now, start applying that same logic to other adjustments you can make in your lifestyle.

Boost Savings By Changing a Habit

What if you could save $15 a week in gas and parking if you were to carpool or take the bus? You might be more inclined to endure the extra hassle when you realized you were going to have an extra $30,166 waiting for you down the road. And if you buy a latte every day at Starbucks, that's a whopping $35,194 up in foam.

Do all three... skip one lunch a week, carpool, and give up Starbucks... and you've got almost $80,000 extra! Think about it.

Boost Your Savings by Eliminating Impulse Buying

Start looking at "impulse" purchases as one of your most formidable foes in the battle to save more.

Impulse purchases usually violate the following rules for wise shopping: shopping around for the best buys, keeping tight control on the use of your credit card, buying only what you really need, buying what's practical, and checking carefully for quality.

The late financial teacher Larry Burkett often suggested maintaining an "impulse list" that works like this:

• Never buy anything unless you have budgeted for it. Instead, write it down on your impulse list.

• Get at least three prices for the same item from different sources.

• Wait at least 10 days to buy it.

• Never have more than one item on your list.

Larry's experience with this system: "I use this system, and with rare exceptions, I never buy anything on impulse. Do you know why? Because long before I have found two more prices on the first item, I find two more items I would rather have. A person could easily go broke saving money on good buys. The only way to conquer the impulse is self-discipline. Without discipline, no budget will help. 'For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him' (2 Peter 2:19b)."

Boost Your Savings by Surrendering to Automation

When it comes to setting money aside, it's easy to rationalize putting it off. So, it often helps to have some of your money put in savings automatically before you have the opportunity to spend it.

Here's one way: deposit your salary to a local bank checking account. Then, set up a savings account at an online bank (such banks usually pay higher rates of interest) and instruct the online bank to have a certain dollar amount (you decide how much) automatically transferred from your local bank to your online savings each time you get paid. It's easy, convenient, and offers some useful discipline.

Austin Pryor is the founder of Sound Mind Investing, America's best-selling investment newsletter written from a biblical perspective. SMI helps people manage money well so they can truly live well and give generously.

© Sound Mind Investing
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