6 Clever Ways to Start Saving Now

Person adding dollar to glass savings jar

While saving for a rainy day is a noble goal, it rarely tops anyone's list of fun family activities. But with a little ingenuity, you'll find that banking some spare cash doesn't have to conjure up feelings of deprivation and denial. In fact, you may actually enjoy the process!

Make saving a family affair, and you'll reap the added bonus of teaching your kids some useful life lessons in frugal living. Try out one or more of these clever money-saving incentives:

1. Provide visible progress toward a positive goal.

Designate a clear glass jar for saved dollars and coins to go toward a much longed-for expenditure, whether large (family vacation, that cool new gaming system) or small (that cute sweater you've been eyeing, a day trip to the ballpark or an afternoon movie and popcorn with the kids). The enticement of a special treat adds a positive spin that inspires savings, and earning that pleasure will be especially rewarding.

2. Make savings a game.

A little friendly competition may be just the incentive you need to save big. Challenge the kids to see who can save the most spare change earmarked for a fun family outing like ice cream or a movie—winner gets to choose the destination.

3. Reward yourself for your new frugal ways.

Use your savings jar to give yourself a little pat on the back for your new frugal lifestyle. Add a couple of dollars for resisting that enticing (and pricey!) pumpkin spice latte, and throw in a five for brown-bagging lunch at the office. Your savings will serve as a visible reminder of how quickly these seemingly small expenditures can put a dent in your wallet.

4. Fine yourself for "bad" behavior.

You're likely familiar with the classic "swear jar": throw a quarter in the jar every time that you unleash some nasty language. Apply the same logic to any negative behavior that you're trying to conquer. Fine yourself a dollar every time that you reach for junk food, skip your morning workout or lose your temper. A quarter for biting your nails! With any luck, you'll save some cash AND kick some bad habits.

5. Find hidden treasure in your pockets and purse.

You may be surprised at the stash of loose change lurking at the bottom of your purse, your jeans pockets, junk drawer and even in the dark crevices of your car and living room sofa. Start by collecting this hidden treasure, then move on to a weekly sweep of coins: begin with saving all your pennies, then move on to all accumulated change. Next, try to set aside some or all of the one dollar bills that end up in your wallet. You probably won't miss these small amounts, and the savings will add up quickly.

6. Take the 52 Week Money Challenge with pennies or dollars.

This clever money-saving trick is a Pinterest staple. The simple goal is to put away a specified amount of money each week for an entire year. Save $1 the first week of the year, $2 the next week and so on through $52 on week 52. By the end of the year, you will have saved a whopping $1,378. If this is a little much for your current budget, start with the Penny Challenge, saving one penny on day one, two cents on day two and so on, adding one cent a day up to $3.65 on December 31. You'll have saved $667.95! Bonus: it's a great practical math lesson for the kids.

Whatever tack you choose to take, start today and soon you will have established a wonderful money-saving habit that will serve you well for a lifetime.