1. Sweep your money into a savings account
If you bank with First Direct or HSBC, you can take advantage of their 'sweep' facilities. Providing you have both your current account and savings account with either of the banks, any money you haven't spent at the end of each month (or by your chosen date) will automatically be moved from your current account to your savings account.
Why it's painless: All you have to do is ask First Direct or HSBC to set up the facility for you. You can set the date you want this to happen each month and stipulate the minimum amount you'd like to keep in your current account. Once the facility is set up, you won't have to lift a finger.
If you don't already have the First Direct 1st Account current account or an HSBC current account, and you're thinking about switching, the good news is the process now only takes seven working days which you can find out more about here. If you switch to the 1st Account, you'll also receive £125.
2. Save as you shop
First Direct and HSBC aren't the only banks that can help you to save, however. Customers of Lloyds Bank, TSB and Sainsbury's Bank can also put a little aside into a savings account whenever they shop.
Under the 'Save the Change' scheme offered by Lloyds and TSB, every time you use your debit card, the amount you've spent will be rounded up to the nearest pound and the difference transferred to your savings account. (Your current account and savings account will need to be with the same bank.) So, for example, if you spent £5.60, this would be rounded up to £6, and 40p would go into your savings account.
Why it's painless: If you bank online you can simply turn the facility on and off, and the rest is taken care of.
Sainsbury's, meanwhile, has a scheme called SaveBack which it operates on some of its savings accounts. Whenever you use a debit card to pay for your shopping at Sainsbury's, you simply hand over your SaveBack card (which you will receive when you open your savings account) and tell the cashier how much you'd like to save.
Why it's painless: Whenever you shop in Sainsbury's, all you have to do is tell the cashier how much you want to transfer – you won't have to log in online or phone anyone.
3. Use your current account
Savings rates are pretty dismal right now, but in contrast, a number of current accounts are offering highly competitive interest rates.
The Nationwide FlexDirect Account, for example, pays an annual equivalent rate (AER) of 5.00% on balances up to £2,500 for 12 months, providing you pay in at least £1,000 a month. After 12 months, the rate falls to 1.00%.
Alternatively, Santander's 123 current account pays up to 3.00% on balances up to £20,000. You'll earn 1.00% on balances above £1,000, 2.00% on balances over £2,000 and 3.00% on balances between £3,000 and £20,000. In addition, you will receive cashback on some of the direct debits that leave your account. You'll receive 1.00% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments, 2.00% on gas and electricity bills and 3.00% on mobile, home phone, broadband and paid-for TV packages.
However, you'll need to pay at least £500 into your account each month and pay a fee of £2 a month.
Another option is the Halifax Reward Current Account. You'll receive £100 if you switch to this account but you'll also receive £5 each month you pay in at least £750 and pay out at least two direct debits, and stay in credit. What's more, you can now earn up to 15% cashback whenever you use your Halifax debit card or credit card at certain retailers – find out more in Melanie Wright's article.
Why it's painless: You can earn the best rates of interest without having to bother with a savings account at all.
4. Save As You Earn (SAYE)
If the company you work for has shares listed on a recognised stock exchange, it might offer a Sharesave, or Save As you Earn (SAYE) scheme, through which you can buy shares in the company at a discounted price. You can save from as little as £5 a month and up to £250 a month over a three, five or seven-year term.
Once the term is up, you can use the money you've saved to buy shares in the company at a discounted price, which is fixed at the outset, or you can simply take your money back.
This is an easy way to invest in the stock market, which could reward you with bigger returns than you’d get with a savings account – and without the risk of losing your capital.
Why it's painless: Usually all you have to do is fill in a form online or over the phone. Once you've chosen how much you'd like to save each month, the money will be deducted from your salary after tax without you having to do anything. You might not even notice the money has gone.
5. Collect your loose change
The last one’s pretty simple. If you hate carrying around pockets or wallets-full of change, start putting your coins into a jar when you get home. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it builds up. Why not set yourself a target and once you've reached it, put the funds into a savings account? Or some banks, including HSBC and Barclays, allow you to tip the change into a designated machine and the balance will show on your current account.
Why it's painless: It takes just seconds to put your spare change in a pot and you won’t feel any worse off.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct