A practically painless way to build a financial cushion
One hour's pay out of every paycheck will add up fast.
You know you should be building an emergency fund. Yet somehow there's too much month left at the end of your money.
A Smart Spending message board reader posting as "Eek17" suggests a fairly simple way to set aside some cash: Save one hour's pay out of every paycheck.
"I have built up a nice EF this way. It's easy, convenient and I don't miss that small amount out of my check," the reader notes in a general frugality thread.
You could have your bank withdraw that amount from checking each payday or, better yet, get an online bank account to do it. Accessing cash from an online account takes several days, whereas at a brick-and-mortar bank you can simply pull out your ATM card.
I set up monthly automatic withdrawals and Eek17 is right: I don't miss it. Well, actually, I do miss it -- but I've learned to live on what's left. Maybe you could, too. If all that's being taken out is one hour's pay, you probably can. This might mean a couple fewer treats during each pay period, but I bet you can learn to live without those, too.
Incidentally, I do keep some money in a bank savings account, for irregular expenses such as car repair or illness. Most of my funds, however, are salted away online where I can't get at them easily.
Readers, tell us: What kinds of (practically) painless ways do you save, and how do you stay motivated?
- Cash back for thrift
- Economy looks shaky? Adjust your emergency fund
- Want to save? Join the 'Dollar Bill Challenge'
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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