I’m not one of those people that can set my clocks ten minutes ahead and fool myself into thinking it’s later than it is. I just open one bleary eye, think to myself, “It’s not really six o’clock yet!” and go back to sleep. Too smart for my own darn good. Given that, it’s peculiar that my savings strategy is basically to delude myself. I pretend I don’t have it. And it works, for me at least.
Let me backtrack a bit.
I still remember opening my very first bank account. I was seven years old, and my Mom took my sister and I to the bank to open our own savings accounts. We’d cleaned out our piggy banks, and the very patient bank representative counted out every nickel, dime and penny with a smile. I was very proud to hold my passbook, and I looked forward to every trip to the bank, every deposit I made. The first time interest was applied I clapped my hands with glee. A saver was born.
That account was nice and flush after my Bat Mitzvah. That’s when the Saving by Delusion plan first came to me. I decided to pretend I didn’t have it, as that money would be used for college anyway. I was well into my Saving by Delusion plan when I was stymied by the only real flaw in it: others did not pretend I didn’t have it. We had to raid it to buy my Mom a car when I was fourteen, another fun episode in the My Mom Is Notoriously Bad With Money saga. Easy come, not so easy go. Lesson learned.
Today I actually use a money market account as my long term “savings” account. That gets the highest interest rate, but the fee-less withdrawals are limited. Money going into that account is there for the long haul. It’s where we keep our emergency fund, our new-to-us car fund, and any other long-term goal money. I pretend I don’t have it, unless I’m making a deposit.
For shorter-term savings I use a regular statement savings account. Since my checking account earns no interest I need somewhere to park money temporarily, yet still earn a little interest. Because I’m not limited in the number of withdrawals I can make I can transfer money into and out of this account at will.
All money that does not come from Husband’s paycheck gets deposited into short-term savings. Any survey money, Craigslist/Ebay money, Health Savings Account reimbursements, gift money – any extra money at all – goes here.
At the end of the month any money that’s left over in checking or statement savings goes into the long-term savings account I pretend I don’t have.
I rarely look at the balance of the money market account because I don’t want that figure in my head. Husband is on board with the Saving by Delusion plan, but every once in awhile there will be a conversation that goes like this one, which we had last year:
Husband: I want a new computer. My current one is too old and I can’t update it anymore. I’ll be able to get more freelance work done faster if I have a new one.
Me: Okay, I agree. You’ve really waited a long time. How much is it?
Husband: About $4000.
Husband: We could take it out of savings…
Me: We don’t have savings, remember (wink). How will we pay for it?
Husband (throws up hands): I’ll do freelance work, and you can save it up until we have enough to buy it.
Me: That’s a great plan, honey. I’ll even put my Craigslist money towards it.
He got his new computer for Christmas, even though he’d only earned about half of the cost. This week we deposited the check that will have him repay our savings.
The delusion is intact.
We’re In Debt is holding a group writing project this week to encourage saving. If you have a savings idea or strategy, please share it!