Safeguarding Your Savings From Your Own Sticky Fingers

When I was younger, I could not save. If I had cash in my wallet, I spent it. If I overspent the funds in my checking account, I transferred money from savings. In fact, my robbery of my joint savings account got to be so frequent that I earned the nickname "Sticky Fingers."

As I grew older, I learned how to better budget, and I learned a few simple tricks that better enabled me to reign in those sticky fingers of mine. Through direct deposit, hiding money, passing on savings account checks, becoming accountable, and unlinking overdraft protection, I was able to nix my savings account B&E habit. Let's look at a few of these ideas.

Start a Direct Deposit to Your Savings Account

The best way to safeguard your money is to pretend you don’t have any. If you set up a direct deposit to your savings account directly from your paycheck, you will not even notice you are saving. Make the amount anything you feel comfortable with, from $5 to $500. Whatever the amount, as you get used to seeing a lower checking deposit (minus that new savings deposit), you will spend less.

Hide Your Money

Once you start putting money into your savings, you have to protect it from yourself. The tip that worked for me was to hide my savings account. I unlinked the savings from my checking account and removed it from my bank’s internet page. This made it a lot harder to transfer money to my checking. If I wanted to withdraw funds or transfer to checking, I had to go to the teller window and fill out the pink and blue transfer forms. That extra step can make you pause and decide to cut back rather than transfer.

Pass on the Checks

Many banks offer checks for savings accounts now. When I learned this, I got some checks “just in case,” but my “emergencies” began to stretch the imagination a little: I used the checks too often and finally decided to shred them. Passing on the option to have savings account checks deters a lot of people from spending their savings too easily.

Make Everyone Accountable

If you have a joint savings account, make sure each person accounts for any activity in or out of the savings. This is best accomplished in a verbal discussion because talking about account activities can make you both feel accountable for the account – and can head off any financial arguments.

Do Not Link Savings as Your Overdraft Protection

Banks have been offering the option of linking your savings to your checking as overdraft protection for years. This is great for those people who very occasionally overdraft, but if you are really deep in the habit of "borrowing" savings funds, this can deplete your rainy day cash quickly. Instead, to save your pesos from your own sticky fingers, unlink your savings and cut back on the monthly expenses.

Over the years, I have developed a financial mindset that discourages the sticky-finger syndrome, but it took a lot of time and a lot of hard work. If you would like to safeguard your savings from yourself, try direct deposit, unlinking accounts, saying no to checks, and making everyone accountable. Simple fixes such as these may help you save for your huge savings goals.

What about you: do you have any tips that help keep your cash safe from yourself?

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