thinking about the green stuff…
Some time every year, I become obsessed with revisiting our bank accounts and savings and reevaluating our goals and seeing what the situation is really like. It usually takes some story on Oprah or a clip of Suze Orman for me to have a money freakout and just check in with everything to make sure it’s going as it should. I mean, we manage our money, but our system is pretty much set up in a way that we don’t have to constantly monitor it and watch every penny to accomplish our goals. But then things like this pop up in my web browser, and the freakout begins again…
Scary, right? Or is it just me?
So this latest freakout got me to transfer our savings funds over into even further deliminated SmartyPig accounts. I was taught well to “pay yourself first!” so I make sure we always do that with our bi-weekly deposits, but this just adds another layer of savings fun to the madness. Our money is withdrawn at intervals of our choice, and we can see the accounts build up over time to our desired amounts. We had savings accounts for certain things (property taxes, house stuff, etc.), but now we can really have little accounts for just about everything that we want. New camera lens savings account? Family photo savings account? Car maintenance/new car savings account? Sushi fund? The possibilities are suddenly endless since there isn’t a big giant bank making sure we direct deposit $25/month into each account that we have. In fact, we may even go a little overboard with the savings… but that’s better than what everyone else seems to be doing. Yeah… SmartyPig pretty much rocks.
So am I alone in these freakouts? Or is it normal behavior to be scared that we aren’t being “smart enough” with our money?
I can totally relate. I handle things in a very similar way. We have a general plan and it’s really on auto-pilot in terms of regularly transferring money for savings. However, every several months, I freak out wanting to make sure we’re “doing it right.” It’s all so confusing regarding how to handle the “extra” money we’re making.
I’ve never heard of SmartyPig, but I do something similar with ING. I have about 10 savings account that are named for the thing we’re saving for (Vacation, Home Improvement, Emergency Fund, etc.). It gives me peace of mind that we’ve accounted for most things and have a plan (and we won’t spend the money we’ve saved mistakenly for something else).
Smartypig is so awesome. Everyone should check that out along with Mint.com. They have totally changed my life. Since starting to use these services over a year ago my money freakouts have subsided a bit. We’re still over our heads in a lot of ways with past money screw ups, but we’re slowly chipping away at the debt. It’s great to see everything in the right places. I might be obsessed a bit with checking my accounts just to see the progress.
I never know what to make of these statements and how my husband and I begin to fit in. We have over $250,000 in debt from his medical school alone (we have no mortgage, no car loan, no credit card debt… that is 100% medical school tuition), which is terrifying, but….. we have a large (large for our age and income level, that is) savings account, have never once not paid off our credit card in full, and live well within our means. Given our small paychecks (residents make very little and I, as a graduate student, make a laughable amount) and our long-distance marriage, we still manage to set aside $2000/month into savings. If it wasn’t for the debt, I’d say we’d be doing pretty darn awesome. But when you factor in that we have such an enormous amount of medical school debt, and that we can barely chip away at it each month, it’s a whole new ballgame. Our panic attacks are always over where our money should go — are we better off beefing up our savings account for a down payment on a future house or some kind of future disaster, or would we be better off not contributing to savings and giving that $2k/month directly to his lenders?
To Julie: I would first focus on a your emergency/savings fund. I’ve heard that you want between 6 months and 2 years of expenses saved up so for the just in case. I would get where I am comfortable somewhere in there, then I would start putting all that extra money towards the medical loan. I would try to get rid of that before buying a house.
I’ve checked out smartypig and like the idea, but do you get interest on the money sitting in there. I don’t want to put money in there and have it not gain something, that seems kinda pointless.
Liz: Unfortunately, given the interest rates, and the elimination of the “economic hardship” policy this year (meaning interest collects on loans while still in residency), and the number of years my husband will be a resident, it will be 15-20 years before we can pay off the loan… and that’s assuming our expenses don’t increase (which they will, since we plan on having children, chances are I won’t live in walking distance to where I work for my post-doc so we’ll have to buy a second car, etc). We’re not interested in having children in a little one bedroom apartment downtown, so paying off the loans before getting a house just isn’t an option. We’ll be nearing 50 by that point.
I always worry that we aren’t saving and investing enough. Then I read graphics like you included in your blog and realize that we are doing really well especially when it comes to retirement. I’m glad we’ve made the choice to live below our means and save up for stuff we want. We’ve got the multiple savings accounts too. ING is great for that.