6 ways to make savings add up

White piggy banks with stacks of money and moneybag

It's easy to feel like Sisyphus these days when it comes to saving: rolling that boulder up a steep hill, one grueling step after another, all gravity and no momentum.

Being a cup-half-full guy, I've always countered that what's-the-use feeling by reminding myself that saving is unquestionably the best move we can make to further our financial goals, whatever they may be.

Even when rates are as abysmal as they are at present, every dollar you place in savings now still earns something, and more importantly, it's available to earn more when rates improve.

Need a savings pep talk? Try these moves to ditch the doldrums:

Find lost money: Collect your spare change and stray dollar bills from cash purchases for groceries and incidentals and deposit them when they reach a threshold amount. This helps connect you emotionally and physically to both the work and the satisfaction of saving.

Save toward something: A jet ski? A tablet computer? A house? Go ahead, set a goal. After a month, see how much you saved toward that goal, then try to beat that figure next month.

Feel the burn: Just like a good workout, it's good to feel a little pain. Pack your lunch or cut out one or more lattes or adult beverages a week and throw the savings into your found-money cache. Sacrifice builds character -- and savings accounts.

Set aside income: Start small and set aside a fixed amount of your income each week or month. If you come up short, adjust. If you don't, increase the amount until you do. I don't call this budgeting. I hate budgeting.

Chart your success: Keep track of your progress on a physical chart of your choice (I'm fond of those corny fund-raising thermometers myself). It's an amazingly effective way to cheer on your subconscious.

Never cash out: Always leave a balance as seed money to grow toward your next goal.

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