By Lisa Walters,
There are certain times during the year that will cause you to spend more money than usual. Take some time to map out your year by jotting down holidays, important events (such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc), and any major annual bills that are due. Then, make a plan for how you can financially prepare for those events.
For my family, September is a big month. Our annual car insurance is due, my husband and I try to sneak in a date night or quick overnight away for my birthday, and we have three small children which means school and activities begin again. It seems that every other day I am writing out another check… school supplies and clothing, dance class, football cleats, fundraisers galore, school pictures, book orders, pre-school tuition… the list goes on and on.
Oftentimes, there is a discount if you pay for things in full rather than make monthly payments. To prepare to pay for things in full, I opened additional savings accounts and moved small, steady amounts of money from our regular paychecks from January thru August. When September rolls around, we have extra pots to pull from. Had my husband and I not saved a little throughout the year, September would be a tough blow for us. When you don’t budget and prepare, you are more likely to turn to a credit card to see you through and we refuse to swipe those plastic high interest bank account suckers to cover our family’s expenses.
You may want to consider opening several savings accounts, which can easily be linked to your checking account to transfer money. If you have direct deposit, you may be able to have a percentage or dollar amount of your paycheck go directly to a savings account and the remainder deposited into your checking. Once our paychecks have cleared, my husband and I do three things: First, we pay our savings accounts. Then, we pay any bills that are due. Last, we look at how much is left over and make a budget for food and entertainment for the week ahead. Tailor your savings accounts to meet your specific needs/wants. For our family, we have multiple savings accounts to cover five different categories:
GENERAL- $1000 Emergency Savings Pot and a place to save for next month’s mortgage
KIDS- Childcare, Activities, College Savings
HOME- Renovations and Maintenance
CARS- Insurance, Maintenance, New Car
At any given time, we can change the intended purpose of our savings accounts to fit our lifestyle or needs, but the concept will always be to help us stay organized and focused on our current financial goals. Financial freedom doesn’t happen overnight, but practicing good savings account habits will be a step down the right path. Trust me, there is no sweeter feeling then having the cash available to cover your needs!