Do you have money saved for your upcoming vacation, the holidays, back-to-school clothes?
What about retirement? Are you contributing to an IRA regularly? What about college savings? Do you have a place to put those funds?
Today I want to look at the benefits of having a place to put your savings. That’s right. I think it’s of benefit to simply have the account.
Even if there are no funds available in it, and, even if you aren’t (gasp!) automatically contributing to it.
Voids Want to be Filled
Tiger Woods has pretty much been a no show in the golf world since 2008, the year of his last major win. It’s taken some time, but someone has finally stepped up to seemingly fill the void that Tiger has left: Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy dominated the U.S. Open a few weekends ago. So much so that people couldn’t help to start comparing him to Tiger. Whether it will come to fruition or whether it’s justified or not, many people (the media, the fans, the PGA, sponsors) are ready to hand the reigns over to a newer, potentially better golfer.
As odd of a comparison as this may seem at first glance, the same can be said for any type of savings account you have established. If you have the account and it’s empty, you will want to fill it. There is a real gravitational pull here.
If you don’t fill it with this month’s budget leftovers, you’ll fill it with your Christmas bonus. If you don’t fill it with an automatic transfer, you’ll fill it with next years tax return.
You’ll stare at the account as it sits empty in your list of accounts on Mint.com or adaptu. You’ll get the occasional email or statement from the financial institution. You’ll come back to this blog and see me going on and on about the importance of saving and striking when the iron is hot. There will be plenty of opportunity to be reminded about this account once you’ve set it up.
The point is that the account will eventually get filled. You’ve just got to make sure you have it first.
Do you have it?
If you don’t have it, you can’t fill it.
My Experience with Creating a Void
I mowed lawns for extra money during my Summers as a teenager. When I started the little business, my parents encouraged me to open up a passbook savings account. The account came with a little black “passbook” that sort of looked like a passport.
I carried that thing with me every where. Every time I finished cutting a lawn and got paid, I’d see the passbook and think about the account. It helped to encourage me to take some of the earnings and go down to the bank to make a deposit.
I didn’t amass millions with that account, but I was able to do some nice things with the savings. All because I created a void.
More recently, I set up 529 Savings Accounts for both of my little girls. I did this prior to them being born, and have since transferred the 529 plan to their names.
Anyway, you should know that Mrs. PT and I are hard-core about saving for our own retirement prior to even thinking about putting money towards our kid’s education. So why did I open the accounts? Well, I knew that if I didn’t open up the 529 plan, any money that had the slightest chance of making it into their savings (e.g. found money, gift money, etc.), would not have anywhere to go.
Sure enough, when the girls were born, my parents generously gave some money for their education. Had I not had the account, I would have been scrambling around to open the account, or worse, I would have sent it into our savings account never to be seen again.
Additionally, the 529 plan that we use, gave us over $100 in bonus and referral money, just for signing up. Had I not had the accounts, our girls would never have seen this extra, free money.
More Benefits to Having the Account
I would be willing to bet that you’re going to see some extra money roll in over the next year. Whether it’s a bonus from work, an increase in your salary, or extra money from a part-time gig, you are going to have an opportunity to save.
What will you do with those funds? Having a place for those funds increases the chances that you’ll do what’s best for your financial goals.
The great thing about most savings accounts, IRAs, and 529 Plans is that they start with little to no commitment. Most financial institutions these days have an account that is quick and free to open, with little in the way of balance requirements. It’s no longer difficult to open an account.
I love this about modern personal finance. The consumer is pushing the industry to provide more for less.
So the takeaway is this…
- If you want to have more money for short-term goals, open up a savings account. I realize this is a no-brainer for most of you, but some may not have a separate savings account.
- If you want to afford your retirement one day, open up an IRA or taxable investing account. Again, some of you might be shaking your head that I would make such a simple suggestion. But the facts show that many aren’t saving for retirement.
- If you want to help your kid’s afford their education, then open up a 529 plan.
Just go do it. Even if you don’t have the money yet. Even if you think it’s hopeless in this economy. Just open up the account and see what happens.
Great Places to Create the Void
Capital One 360 offers the ability to open up multiple savings accounts so that you can assign individual savings goals to each account.
Many of the discount stock brokers offer IRAs with little or no minimum balance requirements.
If you’re unsure of where to open a college savings account, know that I use the Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan. I’m from Texas, so go read that post to understand why that’s not weird.
Have a story about filling a financial void you’ve created? Share it in the comments below.
Photo by zzazazz