When you score a stable income, it can feel like you鈥檝e hit the disposable spending lottery. But just because you鈥檙e bringing in more money than you need to pay the bills doesn鈥檛 mean you can spend it all freely. Saving money can feel like a responsibility that belongs to a future version of us 鈥 you know, the new and improved us that have a higher salary and more willpower. But here鈥檚 an idea: What if we are already the people we need to be to start setting money aside? Why wait to find out?

Using our own psychology and a little creativity can turn saving money from a dreadful obligation to a point of pride that we enjoy, even on a starting or freelance salary. We enlisted some experts to share their best hacks for saving money without sucking the fun out of getting paid.

Temptation bundling

Elyssa Kirkham, a money-management guru who writes for the website Student Loan Hero, shares a straightforward way to stop hemorrhaging money every time a paycheck hits our bank accounts. 鈥淎 trick I learned is to pair tasks that are potentially unpleasant or boring with something else that鈥檚 rewarding 鈥 also called 鈥temptation bundling.'鈥 A saving hack that involves giving in to temptation? We鈥檙e already in.

Kirkham explains it this way: 鈥淓very time you stop an impulse buy, maybe you reward yourself with a barista-prepared latte instead of the office drip coffee. You get to buy your latte guilt-free, knowing you avoided unnecessary spending. And it will probably cost much less than the pair of boots you were eyeing.鈥 By pairing an indulgence with working toward your savings goal, we train our brains to associate saving with a reward. Kirkham goes a step further, suggesting that setting up rules that follow this principle can super-charge our savings鈥 potential. 鈥淢ake a rule that you can go out for your usual weekend brunch or night out, but only if you first transfer enough into your savings account to meet your weekly goal.鈥

Meditation

Meditation alone isn鈥檛 enough to make our savings swell, but it can be an important first step. Meditation and mindfulness aren鈥檛 necessarily about money, and we can engage in those practices for their other benefits while we practice some wellness for our wallets. Holly Kindel, a financial advisor at Mosiac Financial Partners, emphasizes the difference a meditation practice can make in how we manage money. 鈥淵eah, meditation isn鈥檛 saving, [but] there is plenty of science which suggests that regular meditation enhances emotional regulation through improvements in executive control.鈥 Awareness and acceptance are the primary tools we have to improve our spending habits, both of which are improved significantly when we meditate regularly.

Willpower Preservation

Kindel also has some interesting thoughts on ways to maximize our willpower, schooling us in the latest research on how it works. 鈥淚n 2007, Duke University completed a landmark study that suggests that environment, and not willpower, was the primary determinant of successful habit change,鈥 she says. 鈥淪ubsequent studies reinforce, observing that willpower is a finite resource that you need to preserve.鈥 So, when we journey through the outlet mall 鈥渏ust to browse,鈥 we鈥檙e already using up some of our willpower, even if we feel like we scored a #win by not buying anything. This makes us more likely to make an impulse purchase in the near future.

So to reduce wasteful spending, your best bet is to limit your time in venues where you could 鈥減otentially鈥 be spending money and focus in on experiences where there鈥檚 less opportunity to binge on stuff you don鈥檛 need. And engaging in experiences that are less consumer-oriented will probably improve your mindset overall.

Automation

We鈥檝e all heard this advice a thousand times before, but the benefits of automating our savings through an app or online banking cannot be overstated. By 鈥減aying ourselves鈥 (that is, our future selves, the ones sipping a marg on the deck of our Bermuda vacation homes) first, we take the thought of 鈥渟aving鈥 out of sight and out of mind. The goal is to make saving feel like just another bill we have to pay, instead of a conflicted choice we need to make between having fun and being an adult.

If you鈥檝e always been bad at saving money, don鈥檛 despair. Kindel concludes, 鈥淲e鈥檝e all heard the phrase 鈥榊ou can鈥檛 teach an old dog new tricks,鈥 and it鈥檚 time dispose of that belief system. Modern neuroscience has turned that belief on its head: Humans are change machines. What often stands between folks and change are personal beliefs and tools. Surround yourself with people who agree that you can change, have tools you can use, and are interested in helping you.鈥 With technological savvy, an empowered attitude, and a sense of modern agency at our disposal, millennial women have an opportunity to be better prepared for retirement than any previous generation.

Have you found the key to make saving money less painful and more automatic? Share them with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)