Get motivated to save

By Julie Bawden-Davis

You know it's good to save, but you feel you just aren't saving enough, and you're not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average U.S. savings rate is only 5 percent. Ever wonder why? Could it be that when the idea of savings comes up, at the back of your mind you're thinking homework, housework--all of those obligatory tasks that make you feel like yawning? The truth is that saving can be fun and satisfying. Here are seven tips to get you revved up about stashing your cash in a savings account.

1. Visualize your future

Take some time and really picture yourself five, 10 or 20 years from now. Are you in your dream home, lounging on a yacht, at a surfside vacation getaway or on a gondola ride in Venice? What are you wearing? Is it warm outside? What color is the sunset? Are you sipping your favorite cocktail? How does it taste? When we use all of our senses to visualize, we make our dreams tangible. Dreaming is fun, but saving can help you make your dreams a reality.

2. Set goals

Saving for saving's sake is a noble gesture, but it doesn't get the blood pumping all that fast. Having a targeted savings goal for something you'd like to buy or a specific amount you want to see in your bank account goes a long way toward maintaining your savings motivation. Keep your goals on your mind by displaying visuals of items you want to purchase or services you wish to try.

If you want to travel to a ski resort, put wallpaper on your computer of snow-capped mountains. Planning to remodel your kitchen? Tape magazine photos of your dream kitchen on your cabinets. Track your savings with online pie charts and other visuals and watch it grow. The more constant and graphic the reminders of your goals, the more excited you'll become about saving.

3. Do the math

Discover what the amount of money you're squirreling away every month will look like in the future. Get inspired by online charts and graphs that relay the power of compound interest. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a $50 savings investment adds up to nearly $3,500 in five years with a 3.5 percent interest rate. Online compounding savings calculators allow you to punch in the amount of time you plan to save, how much and the interest rate, and then it will compute your savings for you. Seeing how all of your hard-earned money will work even harder for you in an online savings account is sure to inspire you.

4. Challenge yourself

How much do you think you can save--10 percent or 15 percent of your take-home pay? Start out at 5 percent and aim to raise the amount to 10 percent in three months and 15 percent in six months. While you're at it, search out the best interest rates and the ideal type of saving account for your situation. Savings accounts with high interest rates can help you reach your savings goal faster. You'll often find the best interest rates at online banks. Check on a quarterly basis to make sure that your money is still working hard for you.

5. Hook up with a savings buddy

Take a trick from the dieting and exercise world and find yourself a savings partner. Like a good diet and exercise cohort, such an individual understands the value of saving and has his or her own monetary goals. You and your savings buddy can be each other's cheerleaders--bolstering each other when one of you feels like slipping and congratulating one another as you reach your savings goals.

6. Reward yourself

Set milestones along your path to savings and give yourself a little reward each time you reach one. Though the prize could be a small gift to yourself, such as a trip to the movies or a book, your reward can also be non-monetary. Give yourself time to do something you enjoy like a walk in the park. The key is to make the rewards meaningful, yet small, so you don't derail your savings plan.

7. Make it automatic

When you set up a no-brainer automatic savings plan and let technology do the depositing for you, there's always a thrill when you check on your savings account and see how your money has accumulated while you've been going about the business of making it. Watching your savings balance rise and your goals become a reality is sure to keep you motivated and inspired.