Taking advantage of automaticity (where you set yourself up to do things without having to think about them) is the centrepiece of plenty of positive habit forming advice. For hard-ish asks like exercising first thing in the morning or eating healthy, this might involve something annoying like wearing your gym gear to sleep the night before, or never having chips in the house. But when it comes to saving money, there are now some truly thoughtless solutions (in the best possible way).
Automated savings transfers – which whisk part of your wages into a separate account before you can even touch them – are a common weapon of choice for personal finance advisers. These are great for big goals like getting out of debt, building a f-ck off fund, or saving for a major purchase; but there are also smaller ways to save.
One of those techniques used to be a change jar, into which you’d empty all your coins at the end of the day. Then, after months or years, you’d take that full jar to the bank for a pleasantly lucrative payday.
Now we’re largely cashless, change jars take much longer to fill up, and finding an ATM or bank that’ll accept a big baggie of coins is harder than it sounds (I speak from experience here).
But there is a cashless equivalent: round-up savings. These skim the change off the top of your debit card transactions, rounding up to the nearest dollar and placing the remaining cents elsewhere.
Round-up savings started as standalone apps, like Acorns in the US, and Raiz in Australia, which take your savings and invest them for you. But the idea proved popular enough that plenty of Australian banks – including Commbank, ING, Bank Australia and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s app-only account Up – now offer a similar functionality in-house (without the subsequent investing).
This means setting your savings to round up with each purchase could be as easy as toggling a switch on your existing banking app. If your bank doesn’t offer them yet and you like the idea, you’ll either have to sign up for a separate app or switch banks – which to be fair, is much higher effort.
Regardless of the initial setup schlep, the end result is the same: a pleasantly lucrative payday, a few months or years down the line, that you didn’t really have to think about. Personally, I like blowing my round-up savings all at once, on frivolous things I wouldn’t otherwise allow myself. But no judgment if you spend it on something sensible.