Money saving strategies that fit your personality


Squirrels have it easy. They have a natural instinct that tells them, “Hey, you need to start saving food right now if you want to make it through the winter.” It’s a behavior that’s born into them. They don’t have to motivate themselves to find nuts and stash them away. They just do it.

As humans, we have many natural instincts, but saving money is rarely one of them. In fact, saving money is often at odds with our instincts. That’s because saving money doesn’t really trigger any sort of positive physical or psychological response, whereas spending money can, and very often does, trigger feelings of belonging, safety, comfort, etc.

That’s why saving is a hard habit to form. But it’s not impossible. The trick is to understand your personality and create a savings strategy that fits your routine, rather than re-writing your routine to oblige your savings strategy.

The Gamer

Some people are hardwired to be competitive. As in, all the time. If you find yourself timing your trips to the grocery store in search of a personal best, you might find saving easier if you turned it into a game or competition.

If you’re doing it alone, that might take the form of setting personal challenges every month. Create a goal and then try and top it the next month. Focus on specific areas of your budget and set spending goals that require you to be frugal and creative in order to hit the mark. Just remember – reducing your expenses isn’t the same thing as saving money, so don’t make the mistake of letting those savings leak out into other expenses.

If you can, though, try to make savings a competition between friends and family. Create prizes for whoever can spend the least or save the most. That way you can build your savings and earn some big time bragging rights at the same time!

The Visualizer

If you spend $30 on takeaway Chinese food, you have something to show for it: a large pile of Chinese food, which you can then eat or simply admire (I don’t pretend to know your relationship with Chinese food).

If you spend $10 on groceries and put the other $20 into savings, you have something to show for the $10 (dinner, albeit dinner you have to make yourself), but nothing to show for the $20. It hasn’t disappeared, mind you, but unlike the big pile of Chinese food, the investment isn’t right in front of you. It’s not apparent. In other words, you don’t get any sort of immediately satisfying response from saving money. It just feels like you didn’t get what you really wanted.

Of course, in the long-term that $20 can turn into any number of things substantially better than Chinese food (no offense intended to Chinese food). But in the moment it’s hard to feel that.

One way you could potentially bridge that gap is by creating a visualization of your savings goals. If you can see that yes, this momentary sacrifice is bringing you closer to something you really want – a vacation, a new car, a house – it might help create a sense of satisfaction when you make choices that bolster your savings.

It might sound hokey to draw an outline of a big car, let’s say, and slowly fill it in as you approach your goal, but a visual representation of your progress can make a huge difference, especially if saving money doesn’t give you the immediate thrill you need to stay motivated.

The Passive Saver

For some people, saving money sounds good, but, you know…whatareyagonnado? Taking an active hand in building savings just isn’t in their nature. If that’s you, don’t worry. You just need to find some inactive ways to save money.

The first and easiest way to save money without really trying is to funnel a portion of your paycheck directly into savings before you’ve even seen it. It you have direct deposit at work, you may have the option of splitting your deposits into multiple accounts. If so, slice 5 to 10 percent directly off your paycheck and send it into savings. Eventually you’ll learn to manage with the smaller paycheck and you’ll be saving money every month without even thinking about it.

If you don’t have direct deposit, consider setting up an automatic bill pay every month for your major bills, and then bill yourself. Think of your savings account as a creditor you owe and pay it a set amount every month.

These are just a few examples of how you can change how you save to match your personality type (rather than the other way around). There are a lot of personality types, though, so think about how you get satisfaction from money and look for a creative way to use those instincts to your money-saving advantage. Good luck!

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Financial Counseling Association of America Financial Counseling Association of America
    MMI is a proud member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), a national association representing financial counseling companies that provide consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management, and various financial education services.
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.9/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development - Equal Housing Opportunity Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.