You know that putting money aside is a good idea, but counterintuitive though it might seem, putting it all in the same place can make your budgeting more complicated than it needs to be. Why not divide your savings for specific purposes?
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It’s similar to the “envelope” or “bucket” budgeting system, where you take your money and put it into an envelope marked for a specific purpose, but digital and preferably automated. For example, I have one savings account dedicated to fun stuff. Anything from concerts to video games to new gadgets comes from my automated savings account. I also have a savings account dedicated exclusively to travel. I have it set to take a small sum of money out of my checking account every single day and put it aside. Travel is expensive, but it’s a lot more realistic when you think ahead and break costs down by the day. Lastly, I have a saving account that’s my emergency or “cushion” account. I put a certain amount into it every month so I’ll be ready for whatever comes my way.
But you can set up a savings account for tons of other uses, too. Maybe you set one up just for taxes (especially if you’re a freelancer), one for vehicle maintenance, one for a future down payment, one for home improvement, and even one for birthday or holiday gifts. If you’re really smart, you can do what Audrey Gonzalez at the Financial Diet does and set a priority level for each account, as well as a saving strategy. For instance, you would have your emergency savings account set to the highest priority, so money gets directed there before any other accounts. And its saving strategy would be “maintain at all costs,” so you can sleep easy. Your travel account, however, might be a lower priority, where you fill it for a trip, then drain it regularly. It all depends on how you want to live your life.
When you save this way there are no more surprises. You know you’re set up for all the costs coming your way, and whatever you see remaining in your checking account is money you can feel somewhat comfortable spending because you know you have everything else covered. What specific purposes do you have savings accounts set up for?