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Remove the overwhelm: how to go hands free with your saving

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Written by  Clare Seal
5 min read
Updated: 17 Jan 2024

When it comes to saving money, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution - but there are a few common challenges that people tend to face when deciding how to build up a nest egg, create an emergency fund or save for a particular goal, and many of them are organisational rather than financial. The common practice of ‘saving what’s left’ requires spending discipline throughout the month, as well as manually remembering to move your money, while guessing what you can afford to save and then being forced to frequently withdraw money for living costs can create a situation that feels chaotic and has a negative impact on your money mindset. 

All of this often leads to a situation where people feel frustrated by their inability to save and, as a result, lose confidence in their financial capabilities and start to feel completely overwhelmed. Luckily, saving doesn’t have to be quite so stressful - here’s how you can set up a system that more or less maintains itself, removing the overwhelm while propelling you towards those financial goals: 

Step One: Have a goal (or three) 

It’s difficult to save effectively when your savings don’t have a purpose, and in order to give your savings a purpose, you need to have at least one saving goal. Whether you’re hoping to grow a house deposit, fund a trip abroad, save for retirement or just take the stress off things like Christmas and birthdays, there will be a reason why you want to save - discover it and write it down. 

It may be that you have more than one - perhaps you have a short term goal and a couple of longer-term ones. This is fine, as you can split your savings out to maximise interest while making sure you can access them when you need to in the next step of the process. 

savings

Step Two: Make a plan 

Before you start to make arrangements, it’s a good idea to follow your goals up with a well-researched plan. For each goal, set out an amount that you want to save and a timeframe for doing so, then research the best account to suit your needs. If your goal is longer term, a stocks and shares ISA could be best (your capital is at risk when investing), while if you’re saving for a house deposit, a Lifetime ISA might be the one for you. For medium term savings, a fixed-term or regular saver will likely give you the best possible interest rate, while if you need quick access, accounts that allow immediate withdrawals might suit you better. This final option is likely most suitable for emergency funds. 

Work out how much you can afford to save each month in total - you may need to create a budget in order to get an accurate idea of this - and then split the amount between your different saving pots according to your priorities. Mapping out your different saving pots according to your goals will help with motivation, and allow you to automate your contributions, safe in the knowledge that you’re not missing out on available interest or locking away money that you might need at a moment’s notice. 

Step Three: Set it up 

Next is the key to taking the stress out of saving - automation. There are several ways to automate your savings, but the simplest is to set up a standing order. For regular saver accounts, you may set this up when you open the account, because the interest rate is often conditional on regular sums of money being paid in, but with other types of saving account, you may have to set this up manually using internet banking or your banking app. Another option is to use an app-based savings account, like Moneybox, Chip or Plum, through which you can often set up regular payments via Open Banking with just a few taps on your phone. 

It might be a good idea to set these regular payments up to come out of your account just after pay day, as you might with any other bill, to ensure that you pay yourself first. 

Step Four: Review at intervals 

It’s important to remember that, while you want a saving system that’s hands free day-to-day, your circumstances might change and what works for you now in terms of amounts and frequency may not work for you forever. Put a note in your calendar to review your payments at regular intervals - quarterly or even 6-monthly should be sufficient. Being inflexible can be a real financial downfall for many of us, so don’t be afraid to change things up if they no longer work for you.

If you’re still struggling to save and want to try something a bit different 

If this approach still feels too complex, or you want something super quick, easy and stimulating, you could look at the other functions of autosaving apps, such as Chip and Plum These include round-ups - where each pound you spend is rounded up and the difference stashed - and autosaving, where small amounts of money are siphoned off every few days and saved for you. You can even further gamify this using savings challenges, or features where money is saved for you every time it rains, etc. Saving doesn’t have to be dull! 

Finally, there may even be a way to save your money before it even hits your bank account, as the ultimate hands-free option. Some companies offer savings schemes that are paid into directly from your salary before you have the chance to spend it. 

With a little investment of time in researching, planning and setting up a saving system that works for you, you can create something that sustains itself, growing security and wealth for you with very little daily or even monthly effort required.