When I was young, I was gifted the coolest plastic safe. It was deep grey with a bright purple handle that you would spin to open and it had clinking sound effects whenever you opened the safe and deposited money. Since this was before I had a savings account, I threw all of my money in there until it would all fall out when I opened the safe. Eventually, my plastic safe became a thing of the past when the handle wouldn’t fully turn thus locking all of my precious belongings inside. After having to break the safe, everything was swiftly moved into my first real savings account.
Since opening that savings account, I admittedly have had ups and downs. At one point I had around $4,000 saved but by the end of college I had $900 to my name – quite a difference. Now, let me preface this next paragraph by saying, everyone is different when it comes to saving money!
As I started to receive regular paychecks from my first entry level job, I had my full check deposited into my checking account. All of my bills are automatically paid from this account. At that time of my life, I was constantly buying plane tickets to see my boyfriend in South Carolina so I knew I wanted to keep a secure amount in my checking account. Because of this, I adopted a unique method of savings. I would set a baseline for the amount I wanted in my checking account at any time – let’s say $3,000. I would then determine how much I wanted to transfer over to my savings – we will make this $10,000. This means that I would have to have $13,000 in my checking before I could transfer over the $10,000.
For most people, you’re probably scratching your head thinking, “this is not the most effective way of saving money. By depositing money into your checking, you’re more inclined to spend it.” I get it! I am no money expert and I am not saying everyone should do this but it has worked for me. And man, it feels good when you are finally able to transfer over that goal amount, but holy cow is it scary when you see that new balance in your checking account after!
More than a year ago, I decided to take on a second job as a spin instructor. Truthfully, I didn’t take the job for monetary reasons. I genuinely just love health and fitness and creating music playlists for class – the money was just an added bonus! So, here is where my mindset shifted. With this paycheck, I didn’t need the money because I had already been living comfortably with the money I was receiving from my day job. Because of this, I started to automatically have my spin money deposited into my savings. This spin money was my “out of sight, out of mind” source of income. I’d receive a check, deposit it, and forget about it so I wouldn’t spend it! With this mindset, the spin money wasn’t as easily available to me which has helped on my savings journey.
Over the course of 4 years, I have finally reached the ultimate savings goal that I had set when I graduated college. It has taken some will power (i.e. you don’t need those shoes) and it hasn’t been all that easy as life happens and there have been major setbacks. I am still proud of myself for making it this far!
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout my savings journey:
- Make what you can automatic. Although I still stick to my checking account method, having my spin money automatically go to my savings has been awesome! It eliminates the temptation to spend money because there’s less access to it! Again, out of sight, out of mind! Sign up for Round Up Savings and MVCU will automatically round up the change on your debit card transactions to the next dollar and deposit the difference in your savings account! Round Up Savings is available with Free Checking* and Interest Checking accounts. Learn more here!
- Track your finances. If you’re questioning where all your money is going – track it! Could you spend less money making food at home rather than eating out? How much are you really spending on coffee every week? Think about it – what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed! Try the free budgeting tools in MVCU’s online banking! Learn more in these short videos: Creating Budgets | Creating Savings Goals | Online Banking full playlist
- Consistency is key. You don’t have to drastically change your life to save money. Sometimes, little changes done consistently are going to make a big difference! Maybe this means brewing coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks or buying generic brands! Small savings everyday can grow over time!
- Be honest with yourself. Know what you owe! Be mindful of your debt. If you’re in debt, be aware of how much you owe, how much you’re making, and how much you’re spending. Sure, it’s scary, but it’s better to know exactly what you’re up against and how to tackle it than to let it grow into something bigger (and scarier).
- Do what works for you. There are some people who may find my method of saving money to be crazy and ineffective, but it has worked for me. Down the road will I automate some of my regular paycheck to be added to my savings? Maybe! It is whatever I am comfortable with at that time and what gives me the best results toward reaching my future goals. Finance is a tough topic – it’s different for everyone. So do what works for you!