I have a bit of impulse control problem. Or maybe it’s just an obsession? Maybe I’m being too dramatic. Maybe it’s just a hobby or a collection or a mere habit? Any way you slice it, the truth is our household has more savings accounts than you can shake a stick at.
It hasn’t always been this way. In fact, we used to function solely off a cash emergency fund and a checking account. But it seems each year, we add another invisible piggy bank setting up yet another account. And I love it. I think you should, too.
Here’s why you should fall in love with saving money and what accounts you need to establish STAT.
It’s never a question of if an unexpected need will arise, but when. If you have absolutely no other savings account, an emergency account is an absolute must for your finances. Your car will blow up. The air conditioning decides to quit on the hottest day of the year. Your daredevil child jumps out of a tree and breaks an arm.
These expenses are never accounted for, even by the savviest budgeter. If you’re in the process of paying off debt, you need between $1,000 and 2,000 in savings for emergencies. If you have no consumer debt, it’s a good idea to save up three to six months’ worth of living expenses in case catastrophe strikes.
Those cute new shoes at the mall are not an emergency and neither is dinner out. Don’t touch that account unless absolutely necessary.
Health savings account
Your health matters. This is precisely why you need to save money for healthcare expenses. Check and see if your bank or insurance allows for or provides a health savings account option. More than likely there is a maximum amount that you can contribute per year and you should make it your goal to fill that bad boy up.
Not only are there tax benefits available to you through this type of saving, but many accounts come with debit cards and allow you to make health related purchases with great ease. Your prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, dental checkups or new glasses can be paid for with your nifty HSA.
Most big-hearted gift givers forget to budget until Thanksgiving. Come Black Friday, excited by deals and armed with a long list, they scratch their heads and wonder how they’ll ever be able to afford it all.
You should be saving for Christmas all year long. Set a target budget and begin saving up those pennies as quickly as possible. We typically aim to have Christmas “paid for” by the summer months. Saving all year brings freedom and peace on earth and in your spending by the time the holiday rolls around.
We’re very thankful to have been car payment-free since 2009. In the past six years, we’ve been able to save up and then purchase three vehicles. Few of us can afford a major investment like a vehicle overnight.
We use our car savings account as a place to collect cash for both auto repair and upkeep and a place to pile up cash to eventually purchase a new vehicle. You’d be surprised how much money you can save when you’re intentional. You don’t have to have a car payment your entire life.
Vacations weren’t meant for credit cards. Taking a trip paid for by plastic inevitably results in guilt as a souvenir. Instead of stressing out the minute you return home, start a savings account with its express purpose your next vacay. Sock back pennies and dimes. Sell household goods or consign clothes. Put a set percentage of each check in this fund. Do whatever it takes to keep your trip in the black.
The longer you have an emergency fund, the more you realize that there are still occasional household needs that are not necessarily an emergency but can’t be funded by your month-to-month budget. Perhaps your couch was around for the last three elections. Or maybe you’d like to paint your kitchen a cheery shade of yellow or you want to upgrade your landscaping.
These expenditures are nice but don’t qualify as catastrophic. It’s for this precise reason we set up yet another account this week to begin putting money back for household repair and maintenance. We can also begin saving for a new home if we choose to someday move.
Last but certainly not least, my favorite savings account is what we call the generous fund. Each check, we save a small percentage simply to do nice things for other people. We spring for the check or we buy a book. We pick up a Starbucks gift card or order a pizza for a family who’s been having a rough week.
This fund is separate from the charitable giving we do at our church and also gets tapped for graduation gifts, mission trips and fundraising opportunities. We try to keep the balance fairly low so that the money is always flowing out of this account and we aren’t tempting to hoard dollars we’d like to give away.
Begin your account addiction with the emergency fund and once it’s filled, look to the other categories. If your bank piles on fees and charges for multiple accounts, it might be time to shop for a new institution to handle your money.
The best strategy to keep you from spending every penny of your check is to transfer money from your account as quickly as possible. The simple act of removing it from your account will help you remain committed to your savings goals.