Saving money is a lot like eating right. We all know that we should save up for emergencies, retirement, and personal goals, just like we know we should eat more vegetables and fewer cookies. But doing it isn’t so easy.
The problem is temptation. It’s hard to keep from spending money when it’s sitting right there in your checking account. Something always seems to come up that you need that money for. Before you know it, you’re broke until your next payday.
That’s where automatic savings plans come in. They let you automatically set aside part of each month’s earnings in a separate savings account, where it’s harder to reach.
Benefits of an Automatic Savings Plan
Most people treat savings as an afterthought. They deposit their whole paycheck into a checking account, and they take money out of that account to pay the bills. Their savings is whatever happens to be left over at the end of the month. Unfortunately, that often means they save nothing at all.
With automatic savings, by contrast, you pay yourself first. A portion of your paycheck goes straight into savings and never hits your checking account at all.
Saving this way has several advantages:
- It Keeps Your Savings Separate. As the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” When you keep your savings in a separate account, you no longer think of it as spending money. The money is still there if you need it, but you won’t just burn through it without thinking.
- It Forms Thrifty Habits. Sending part of every paycheck straight into savings forces you to make ends meet with what’s left. Over time, you get into the habit of living on less. Once you get used to it, you may not even miss the extra money.
- It’s Effortless. Once you get your automatic savings plan set up, it keeps going by itself, with no help from you. There’s nothing to remember and no math to do. Instead of second-guessing yourself, asking how much you can afford to set aside each month, you can sit back and let your savings take care of itself.
- You Can Save for Multiple Goals. People save for many different reasons. For instance, you might be trying to build an emergency fund, set aside money for retirement, and save up for a vacation. With automatic savings, you can pursue all these goals at once. You can set up several savings accounts, one for each goal, and transfer a fixed amount into each one every month. This makes it easy to keep all your savings goals on track.