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The easiest way to save money every month, according to a behavioral research expert

Perry Wright of Duke University’s Common Cents Lab explains the power of automating your savings.

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Life is full of making hard financial decisions, but saving shouldn't be one of them.

If you ever feel like there are so many choices to make with your money that saving often gets left on the back-burner and nothing happens at all (aka decision paralysis), simply try automating your savings.

This way, you only have to make an active choice once, and you free up some mental space for other things, explains Perry Wright, a senior behavioral researcher at Duke University's Common Cents Lab, a behavior science lab that focuses on the financial well-being of low income people.

"The best trick for saving is to eliminate the decision to save," Wright says.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down how automating the act of saving makes it so you never have to think twice about it, plus one more savings trick from Wright.

How to eliminate the decision to save

If you have to make an in-the-moment decision to save or spend, you're more likely to choose to spend, argues Wright, knowing you can always save later down the road.

Automating your savings makes sure that decision is already accounted for and requires little ongoing effort to prioritize when other things come up.

If you are paid through direct deposit, you can set up a percentage from your paycheck to automatically transfer into a linked savings account each time you get paid. If you have an inconsistent income stream, such as being a freelancer or contractor, schedule a recurring deposit from your checking account to your savings at a time in the month when you normally have a surplus of cash flow — maybe when your biggest recurring invoice gets paid. Or have all payments sent to your savings and auto-transfer just what you need to live on to your checking at regular intervals.

Making a habit of saving by automating it also comes highly recommended by finance expert Sallie Krawcheck. Once you set it and forget it, over time your funds will grow and you will have become accustomed to living off of a budget that accounted for saving for your future.

Make your money work for you with a high-yield savings that earns more than traditional accounts

CNBC Select ranked the Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings a best overall pick for offering no fees whatsoever and easy mobile access. It is the most straightforward savings account to use when all you want to do is grow your money with zero conditions attached.

Wright's other savings trick

In addition to automating your savings, Wright recommends creating separate accounts for different savings needs and goals to help you save more over time.

"We have a reluctance to spend money that is pre-assigned to categories or uses," he says.

A high-yield option like the Ally Online Savings Account is a consumer favorite because account holders can organize their saving goals by creating up to 10 different "buckets" within the same savings account. For example, they can create a designated fund for a "Future Vacation" and another for "Emergency Savings."

The savings account also has an easy-to-use mobile app and 24/7 live customer service that is available over the phone, through online chat or on the app.

Ally Bank Online Savings Account

Ally Bank is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)


  • Minimum balance


  • Monthly fee

    No monthly maintenance fee

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per transaction

  • Overdraft fees


  • Offer checking account?


  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have an Ally checking account

Terms apply.

Information about Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the banks prior to publication. Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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