Financial Education Explained by Danielle: Your Savings is Not a Backup Checking Account
Saving money wasn’t my forte when I was younger. Between my babysitting and summer jobs, I’d save up as much money as I could. Then I would use it to pay for family and friends’ birthday presents, school related costs, and outings with colleagues. I rarely asked my parents for money growing up because I wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible. The only problem was that I consistently depleted my savings account by transferring money to my checking account. In hindsight, those were bad money decisions that taught me a valuable money lesson: my savings account is most definitely not a backup checking account.
Now at the age of 22, my parents frequently tell me, “Don’t save like we saved. Save early.” My mom and dad emigrated to the United States when they were younger, and money was tight for both of their families as they tried adjusting to life in this country. They both grew up in a time where putting your money in a savings account was the most viable option—investing in the stock market was a “rich person’s game.”
Nowadays, I have a dedicated savings account that I reserve for unexpected expenses a.k.a. my emergency savings. Whenever my paycheck is deposited, my first instinct is to direct part of it towards my savings account ("pay yourself first!"). It also helps that I have a percentage of my paycheck directly deposited into my company-sponsored retirement account—save early and save often!
Next I set aside funds to pay off fixed costs such as my student loans and monthly car payments. Afterwards, I make sure I set enough money aside for groceries and going out with friends. It’s after these costs that I put even more money towards my investments. It’s only after I’ve calculated all the aforementioned that I allow myself to spend what I have left. This process takes time and a little adjustment (mentally, emotionally and financially), but it’s definitely doable. This discipline will start you down the path to a good financial future.
- How do you typically like to divvy up your money after you earn money from a job? or a birthday check? or holiday gifts?
- How do you use your savings account?
- Is there anything you can do differently to start saving more?
- Most banking customers open a savings account and a checking account at the same time. Would you think about money in your savings account differently from your checking account? Why?
About the Author
Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations, as well as connecting students of all ages with the education they deserve. Her last job as an intern at Ventura County Government Center helped her fine tune the organizational skills necessary in order to be a valuable asset to NGPF. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts or working on various projects, you can find her raving about the movie she most recently watched, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!