The Arizona Republic - - Business -

free you from reg­u­larly de­cid­ing when and how much to save. And the setup takes just a few min­utes. You need to know three things: which two ac­counts to use, how of­ten transfers oc­cur and the amount. Ex­perts rec­om­mend you save about 20% of your af­ter-tax in­come. So if you take home $5,000 a month, aim to put away $1,000. If that’s ini­tially out of reach, start with a smaller amount and work your way to­ward that 20%. You need to re­ceive your pay as di­rect de­posits, and your com­pany must be on board. Some em­ploy­ers don’t let you split di­rect de­posits.

If split de­posits are avail­able, there’s another perk. Some banks of­fer sign-up bonuses when you open a new check­ing ac­count with di­rect de­posit. Just make sure a new ac­count is a use­ful ad­di­tion and that you don’t get stuck with fees or high min­i­mum bal­ance re­quire­ments. Hav­ing one sav­ings ac­count might not be enough, es­pe­cially if you like fo­cus­ing on spe­cific fi­nan­cial goals. That’s where sin­gle-pur­pose ac­counts can shine.

Hav­ing mul­ti­ple ac­counts is eas­ier than it sounds. Start with a sec­ond sav­ings ac­count for one pur­pose, such as stock­pil­ing an emer­gency fund. Then cre­ate a re­cur­ring trans­fer, even if it’s a small amount — say, $50 — to grad­u­ally reach your goal. Track­ing progress is easy; just check the bal­ance.

“I used to have just two ac­counts, check­ing and sav­ings,” says Muriel Vega, a tech writer in At­lanta, “but they weren’t re­ally work­ing for me.”

Eight years ago, she opened a sec­ond sav­ings ac­count to use as an emer­gency fund. When her free­lance as­sign­ments started ramp­ing up, she opened a busi­ness check­ing ac­count and a sav­ings ac­count to set aside money for busi­ness-re­lated taxes. She also has a sep­a­rate check­ing ac­count to pay home and util­ity bills and a sav­ings ac­count for va­ca­tions.

“I have seven ac­counts now. That’s three check­ing and four sav­ings,” Vega says. Most of her sav­ings ac­counts are at two on­line banks that have at­trac­tive fea­tures such as com­pet­i­tive sav­ings rates and no monthly fees.

On the day she gets paid, she has sev­eral au­to­matic transfers ready to send funds to her var­i­ous ac­counts. The re­sult: no mi­cro­manag­ing of money re­quired.

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