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Be Strategic about Your Banking

Where you put your money can help you to use it wisely

Right after the holidays we all feel the pinch when those credit card bills come in. (It’s like the extra few pounds on the scale, the extra notch on the belt!). But it doesn’t take long to put some new systems in place that can help bring your financial picture into focus. That’s essential to making some new decisions about how you’d like to go forward.

It’s easier to save money when you have a little more of it—or at least when you’re able to cover your expenses. This is why a budget is so supportive of your financial health. But there are lots of ways to make progress on the money front. Some people get motivated by a savings challenge—kind of like the Biggest Loser for finances. Other people need to take more incremental steps. Figure out what feels right to you, and what you can stick with. Commit to a month, and then reevaluate.

Keep a savings account and a checking account

Clarity is your friend, and it’s hard to see things clearly if you do everything out of a single checking account. This can lead to feeling out of control. There are offers out there for interest-bearing checking accounts with no fees. But a designated savings account is a good idea that encourages you to save rather than spend. Open one at your same bank, or find one online.

You may know someone who already has an account at an institution with incentives, which means that if your friend refers you, the bank will give you both a reward of some kind (say $25 with your initial deposit). Some of the bigger banks make it easy: they have an app you can put on your phone to make deposits directly into your savings account.

Divide every deposit into two parts

When you receive a paycheck, think of part of it as “yours to deposit” into your bank account, and a percentage of it as “already spent”—on savings. That can help you stay disciplined around what the impact of it is on your cash flow. If you make it a set percentage (say five percent) that goes to savings, it starts to be an automatic calculation. (You can always tweak the percentage later, if you find it’s taking too big a bite out of your paycheck.) A $500 check automatically becomes a $475 deposit (which you can use to cover basic, recurring expenses) and a $25 savings contribution.

You can decide that savings account is for a “rainy day” or that it’s for fun things—eating out, movies, clothes, gifts. This makes it easier to track your spending in those areas, since you can easily look at the balance at the beginning of the month, the balance at the end, factor in how much you deposited, and you’ll see your total spending. Keep track of how that amount varies from month to month—either with your banking app, or the old fashioned way: in a notebook. Since you can expect your spending needs to go up in months where you’re on vacation, or leading up to the holidays, you might want to increase your contributions to it in the few months before those periods.

It’s of course smart to look into how to get financial aid for any training programs you are already considering. Here are some other good financial suggestions: 12 Simple Money Saving Tips for Students.

Some people think respecting money is the key to having more of it. Think of the time between when you get a payment and it makes it into your account(s) as a sacred time. If you treat the money thoughtfully and strategically, you’re likely to have a more effective outcome. You deserve it after all—you worked hard to earn it!

Branford Hall Career Institute offers a number of programs at 11 different campuses that can support you in transitioning to a stable career in different fields, including healthcare, massage therapy, personal fitness training, culinary arts, computer networking, and more. Learn more about our programs and take a first step towards that new career!

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