Automate Your Savings with SmartyPig
I think I’ve talked about this in other posts before but I like things to be EASY. Like, seriously easy. I’m a lazy person.
I’m not talking like, “haha, she’s so lazy, she took the elevator up two flights of stairs” lazy.
It’s more like, “She’s so lazy, she’s been sleeping for 14 hours straight and she might possibly be dead.” That kind of lazy.
So, the more things I can do to make it easier on myself to save money, pay bills, and not stress about finances, the happier I am.
As a result, I’m a big fan of SmartyPig. I have been using it for the better part of a decade and it is amazing.
SmartyPig allows you to link your checking or savings account to their online bank in order to save money for specific goals.
Within the last year or so, SmartyPig is was bought out by Sallie Mae (it wasn’t always like that), so if you’re one of those people who don’t trust an online only bank, you should feel a little bit safer now.
You can setup your SmartyPigs to automatically withdraw money from your regular bank one a week, once a month, or more. You can tell them a specific date you’d like to have a goal achieved by and it will even recommend a savings rate for you.
It’s pretty awesome.
Currently, I have four different SmartyPig savings goals open. Each month, I transfer about $450 across these various savings accounts.
- Each January I set up a SmartyPig for Christmas Shopping. I set it to close in November so that I can do the bulk of my shopping in November and December. Note: sometimes I’ll buy Christmas presents earlier than that – I just make a note of how much I spent and deduct it out of my SmartyPig, adjusting the goal down a bit.
- My husband and I go on a vacation every August. We know about how much it costs us to take this trip, so I set up a SmartyPig every July for the next year’s trip. This includes putting money aside for boarding our dogs, our hotel rooms, eating out, etc….
- We have long term house projects we’d like to do – so I’ll often set up SmartyPigs for those. In this case, we would like to put in a new fence next year, so that SmartyPig is set to close out in the spring, right when it’s time to put the new fence up.
- Lastly, I always have a very long-term SmartyPig set up for purchasing a car.
My husband and I usually purchase slightly used (within the last couple model years) cars so as to avoid the “drive it off the lot price decrease” and we intend to drive both of our current cars (his is a 2010 and mine is a 2015) for quite a while (see my post about our auto habits here!), but having a SmartyPig set up for the next time one of us needs a new vehicle is amazing.
After we replaced his car in 2011 (the month after we got married, Jesus Fuck!) and we had to scrape together the down payment, I said to myself that I didn’t want to do that again! It was stressful to have one of our cars suddenly die and to be unsure on whether or not we could afford to buy a new one.
Luckily, we made it work. But my car, at the time, was pretty old and I knew it would be smarter to start a savings goal for it sooner rather than later. I set up that Smarty Pig that same month we bought his car, with the hopes that my hand-me-down car would last another 5-ish years. Luckily, when my old car exploded (pretty much literally) exactly 5 years later and I had a tidy sum in the SmartyPig to put towards a down payment.
As soon as I emptied out that SmartyPig to purchase my new (used) car, I started another goal with a timeline of 5 years. It’s not set to expire for a bit yet – and hopefully hubby’s car will still be in fine order when it does expire – but the more we plan for future expenses that we KNOW are going to come up, the better we’ll be. I can keep adding to that goal so that by the time we do have to replace his car, maybe we can just pay cash for it.
Every once in awhile, I’ll set up some shorter term SmartyPigs. If I want to replace a piece of furniture or an appliance, I’ll set up a SmartyPig for it so that I’m not just pulling a grand or more out of our savings. Then it lets me think about exactly what I’d want to buy, do some price comparisons, and then have that fun flash of pride when I do manage to save enough money for the item I want!
Now, you might be thinking, “BB, why don’t you just put that $450 a month into your savings account and then buy what you need when you need it. Why go through the hassle of setting up SmartyPigs?”
Well, for one, I don’t see the Smarty Pigs as a hassle. After the initial set up, it takes seconds to start or close a new goal. So, it’s pretty easy to use.
Two, there is something to be said for the sheer amount of accomplishment you get for saving for a specific goal! It’s awesome. You feel accomplished. You feel like you made the right choice in planning ahead. And you immediately realize that you now have whatever cash was being funneled to that SmartyPig available to be used for a different goal.
You can pause SmartyPigs if things ever get tight or if you realize you really need to focus on a different goal instead. And you don’t have to complete a goal before you can close it out. You can set a goal to be $1,000,000 and it wouldn’t matter! You could close it out when you get to $50.
For me, SmartyPig makes saving easier. It makes visualizing specific goals easier. And it automates everything so that I don’t have to think about it until I get that amazing little e-mail that tells me I’ve reached my savings goal!
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with SmartyPig in anyway and this is NOT a sponsored post. I just really enjoy using this service to help me with my savings goals.