By: Mike Cashion, MFF Director of Operations
Have you ever heard of the envelope method? Yes, it does sound old school because it is. But the idea behind the method can actually work better in the modern world. Basically, you would use envelopes as budget and savings buckets to manage your money. If you put a different spin on the idea, it works really well in our heavily digital economy.
I’m not sure about you but, I am a digital native, and have access to most of my banking and money -elated activities with a few taps on the screen. This ease of access and up-to-date information is very helpful in some ways and hurtful in others.
I want you to take a second and think about how a 401(k) works and why it works so well. Part of the success of a 401(k) is that the money is set up to automatically be deposited into a retirement account (pre-tax) before you even see it happen. You completely forget that the money is set aside. At this point you may be thinking…“I completely forgot that I have a 401(k)! I wonder how much is in there?!” This is precisely the point and where I want to go with this.
In our super-connected world, we are constantly reminded to connect everything, turn on notifications, and be inundated with information. Certain aspects of our very connected digital world work well. The ease of automating your savings is one of the benefits. Contrary to that, developing new habits around automating your savings and taking it offline can be incredibly effective.
Here are three things that I have adopted that work well for me and may work well for you in some fashion:
Automate savings into a savings account at a different bank that you don’t have attached to your budgeting app.
I use Mint to track (most of) my accounts, saving, and spending. It can be nice to see all of your account balances and transactions in one place. It can also be overwhelming to see everything in one place. In regards to saving, I find it really helpful to have separate accounts outside of my main bank. That way I can set it up, automate it, let it grow, and forget about it.
Get cashback when you buy your groceries.
This was something that I never thought about. A few of my friends mentioned this as a tactic that they used during a divorce (not diving into that). I took the idea and applied it to saving. What I do now when I go grocery shopping is get a small amount of cash back when I check out. Then I take the money and put it into my savings. You could also go old school and put in a piggy bank of sorts. Kickin’ it old school in this case may be a great option, but everyone has their preference.
The main reason that I find this effective is because when the transaction comes through to my budgeting app, I categorize it as groceries and don’t even think about the additional money that I pulled out for saving.
When having to or choosing to pay with cash, save the change.
This is probably an oddity for many. Today we do most transactions digitally. That is the case for me. There are still a few cases where I do end up paying cash, one being at the barbershop. After I pay for my bi-weekly haircut, I take the remainder of the cash I pulled out of the ATM and drop it into my savings. Again, you could go old school here with a piggy bank or safe. Otherwise, you could deposit it into that savings account that you have (that isn’t connected to your budgeting app).
What works for you?
Maybe one of the ideas above might work well for you. Maybe none of them work for you. What I hope you take away from this post is that you can get creative with your situation and find ways to save that work well for you. For me, I am looking for easy ways to save without much thought, while going somewhat unseen.
How are you automating your savings and working toward your goals?
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