By federal regulation, savings accounts are classified as “non-transaction” accounts and we should treat it so. A lot of us living paycheck to paycheck have savings accounts but they’re usually empty or are constantly being dipped to resolve our unexpected financial needs. To start saving and maintain a healthy savings account, we must treat our savings accounts like bills and choose options with limited functionality that help resist the temptations of dipping.
Here a a few tips to keep in mind for your savings account:
Treat it like a bill
You have to treat your savings account just like any other bill that you pay religiously and periodically (bi-monthly or monthly.) And once you make the periodic payment, pretend it’s no longer your money; you could even go a step further and treat it like a sunk cost.
Give it a specific purpose
Just like any other bill (rent, water, internet, electricity, etc), there should be a specific purpose or end goal for your savings account (travel, car, house, investment, etc.) This will help your monitor your progress and celebrate your checkpoints.
Set Up an Emergency Fund
A lot us use our savings accounts for emergencies and other things. Since it’s quite difficult to definite an emergency, we find ourselves often dipping into our savings in the name of emergency. By setting up a separate emergency fund, we are better prepared to handle unexpected expenses while steering away from our savings account. And the same rules above and below apply to the emergency fund – Be consistent and treat it like a bill.
Make it Difficult to Access Your Savings Account
There are several options that allow you to have a savings account with conditions and penalties for transfers and withdrawals. These options help discourage one from withdrawing and transferring at will. And whatever you do, please DON’T get a debit card for your savings account!
Move Your Savings to Another Bank
Connecting your savings account to your checking account makes it easy for you to deposit money automatically into your savings account and keep you honest with your periodic payments. Unfortunately, it also makes it easy for you to withdraw and transfer money from your savings account. So if you lack the discipline to have your checking and savings accounts connected, find a completely different bank and set up a savings only account. Small credit unions are always good options and they pay better interest rates as well.
Protect Your Savings
Most importantly, you must protect your savings by creating a budget and sticking to it. Your budget has to allocate money periodically to your savings account just like other bills on your budget. If you find yourself still tapping into your savings account periodically, just reduce the amount of your contributions to your savings account and slowly work your way back up.
As you’re setting up your savings account please pay attention to the minimum balance requirements and the monthly allowable withdrawal/transfer limits to avoid penalties (staying below your minimum balance and withdrawing or transferring too many times from your savings account will lead to financial penalties from the financial institution.) Once you’ve gone through this process and have reached your savings goal(s), we can then begin to talk about getting rid of the middle man (banks) and investing.
How about you? What other tips do you have for maintaining and growing a savings account?
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