When I was younger, I never had extra money. Everything I earned was spent on bills and pleasures. Since my circle of friends lived the same exact way, I was convinced I just didn’t make enough. The word saving was just not being used by us – we were young, fabulous and invincible.
And when an emergency happened, we scrambled and hustled to cover the expense. Thanks to having a few good friends, I somehow always managed to get by, but each of these unexpected bills took a toll on me – I always worried one time it would just be something really huge and I feared I’d be crushed by it. Unfortunately, this reckless behavior continued well into my married years. Even though we both made quite a good salary, we never had money left over in our account. Typical paycheck to paycheck lifestyle . And it was devastating to my marriage. I worried the car would break down, or the furnace would go, or the roof would leak …
When our older son started to approach college age and we realized he would need a car plus tuition money, something broke in me. I sat down with an old fashioned pen and paper and listed all my expenses, indulgences, and hobbies versus our income and I almost passed out! We actually made great money and we blew it each month on stuff we didn’t need at all!
This was a beginning of us on a budget. I kept track of our expenses and made many changes to our spending habits. I also went through our closets only to realize we had plenty of clothes, so that expense was completely eliminated for months to come. I also started cooking all our meals instead of getting take out or going out to dine. We brought lunches to work. We finally started to utilize Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos instead of going to the movies for all recent releases. We utilized the library for new books and even magazines.
The results were worth all the efforts (even though at times we just wanted to go wild and spend like there was no tomorrow!). Our savings account grew each month while we paid cash for my son’s tuition and he drove a used car to college for four years. Graduating without a student loan was the greatest graduation we could have given him – his words!
The habit of saving was solidified. Our emergency fund could cover over three good months of our expenses even if both of us wouldn’t be able to work. It’s not as much as all the financial experts would advise you to have – six months is the standard recommended cushion – and for a good reason. It will rain. Stuff happens and it’s wise to be prepared.
Last November, just after Thanksgiving, I signed up for Digit. It’s an app that helps me save money for whatever goal I set for myself. I decided to start a small emergency fund, separate from our main fund. Let’s say we need to go to a wedding in Florida or to a funeral in California – the money is waiting without dipping into our main savings account.
Digits monitors my spending patterns 24/7 and gradually transfers small amounts of spare cash to a secure, FDIC insured account that you can access anytime. Do I notice the money being taken by Digit? Yes. Sometimes it’s a $2, sometimes it”s $15 – it all depends on my spending . They notify me daily on how much money I have in my regular account so I know how much I have left to shop that day.
I try not to check the saved amount too often, but last time I did it was a little over $1,400 there! That’s not too shabby – it was practically effortless and painless.
I tell all my friends and family about Digit. All of us need a little help and motivation to save – spending is just so easy. Also, for some of us the thought of setting up an emergency fund is just too much of a decision to make. Starting with something so simple as Digit would help to get the ball rolling without overthinking and stressing the whole budgeting and saving idea. Money is a very personal thing and there is usually a variety of emotions involved around spending and saving. If you are not ready to face the reality of life from money perspective, it’s OK, but know that it’s better to start saving earlier than later.
I hope you check it out and use it to your advantage. Having that little bit of emergency money can make you feel very powerful!