If we were to take a look at your bank accounts right now, how many savings accounts would you have in place? One? Two? If you really want to be in charge of your finances, you need at least five separate savings accounts. Why? So you can have a clear picture of where your money is going, and so you can earmark specific dollars for specific financial goals.
Here are the five savings accounts you absolutely need:
The Emergency Fund
Your first and most important savings account needs to be an emergency fund. This is a sum of money equal to between three and four months of living expenses, which you do not touch unless you have an actual financial emergency. Losing your job is a financial emergency. Unexpected car or home repairs count as a financial emergency — no one wants to sleep in a house without heat. Health emergencies are also good reasons to spend from your emergency fund.
Look for an online savings account with high interest rates, so your money grows even when you’re not watching it. And remember that sometimes four months of living expenses is not enough; when you check out the online savings rates by Discover Bank, note that their experts recommend putting an additional 20% in your emergency fund if you are a family living on a single income.
The Retirement Fund
Saving for retirement is a doozy — even when you max out your company’s 401(k) plan, you still often don’t end up with enough money to retire comfortably. A good retirement portfolio includes both a 401(k) and a Roth IRA, and you need to max out both every year.
With your Roth IRA, you are able to contribute $5,000 every year. Of course, you need to save up that $5,000 before you can add it to the IRA. That’s where a retirement fund savings account comes in. Every paycheck, send a few dollars into the retirement savings account, so you’ll have the full $5,000 ready to contribute every time a new tax year rolls around.
The College Fund
After your retirement fund comes your kids’ college funds. Yes, you need to save for your retirement before you save for college; many families take the opposite tactic and find themselves financially strapped during their retirement years. However, it is important to put aside as much as you can for your kids, and for that you need a separate savings account. As your savings grow, consider transferring them to a 529 Plan.
The Vacation Fund
Once you have the other savings accounts taken care of, it’s time to start saving for vacation. Whether you plan to take the kids to Disney World or take your wife on the 10-year anniversary trip of your dreams, you need to start setting aside some cash. Don’t make the mistake of draining your emergency fund to go on vacation; instead, start a separate savings account and watch it grow.
The Upkeep Fund
Some types of repairs are true financial emergencies and are good reasons to spend down your emergency fund. On the other hand, you’re smart. You know that eventually you’re going to need a new car and a new roof. Start saving for them now, in your upkeep fund.
Here are a few additional savings accounts that are not mandatory, but can help you manage your finances:
The New School Year Account
Every August, your kids need new clothes, new school supplies, and new educational tools like TI-99 calculators and tablet computers. Start saving now so you won’t end August strapped for cash.
The Holiday Account
Christmas, birthdays, and other major holidays don’t ever go away. Since you’re going to be spending on them, you need to start saving for them.
The Tax Account
Once you get into the tax bracket where you stop receiving yearly refunds, you need to set aside a separate savings account for your annual tax payments. After all, the more money you make, the more taxes you pay — so don’t let your financial success cause you to fall short in April. Likewise, if either you or your spouse work as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you need to keep track of quarterly tax payments. A good tax savings account helps you prepare for these upcoming expenses.
These are just a few of the savings accounts you can create to manage your finances — the more you have, the better you’ll be able to see where your money is going. Make sure to look for online savings accounts with high interest rates, so your money does part of the work for you by earning compound interest. Then, every paycheck, divide up your cash into your various savings accounts, and watch your nest eggs grow.