As a fresh-out-of-college-grad, I quickly found myself spending far too much of my paycheck far too soon. At the time, I didn’t have any credit cards and I was constantly checking my bank account balance. I still recall seeing a $20 balance on a Tuesday and reminding myself the money needed to last until Friday.

That feeling crept up and I wanted to eliminate it. A “quick fix” solution is what I describe here as my ultimate savings hack.

Here it is…

With each pay raise, decide at least weeks in advance what % you will automatically elect to contribute towards your 401k, IRA, or a broad based index fund such as Vanguard’s VTI.

The trick here is our mind is extremely optimistic when it comes to planning out future behavior and we can benefit from this if we ride the optimism wave.

In our lives, we’ve elected the vast majority (90%+) of our pay raises into our retirement accounts and our student loans.

The process has been smooth since we elected up front.

Effectively, we still see a pay raise, without seeing the new piece now flowing into investments.

For more on this check out our podcast episode:

I find it more difficult to do something great when deciding in the moment as opposed to planning ahead.

The easiest example is when children see one piece of candy in front of them but are told they will receive two pieces of candy if they do not touch the first one for fifteen minutes. Despite the prospect of a 100% return in 15 minutes, the kids still decide to eat the candy.

We just can’t help ourselves in the moment (sometimes), but we can help ourselves ahead of time (almost every time).

This is why I describe this as my ultimate savings hack. Literally, anyone can do it.  

Even when I was checking my account daily, I ended up appreciating my decision more and more as time went on. Not only did I see my bank account grow, I also watched as my investment accounts increased in value.

In the end it was a win-win.

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Ben Franklin

If that’s the case then surely this savings hack is one of our easiest good habits.

What Is Your Ultimate Savings Hack?


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