By Kathryn Hazelett
I’ve been thinking a lot about savings over the past few months as I’ve worked on this blog and on other papers for Southern. I realized that I generally divide savings into three categories. We save for college (ours, our student loans, and our kids’ future expenses), we save for retirement (hopefully!), and we save for emergencies (broken furnace, flat tire, etc). What this breakdown of savings leaves out is all the little (and not so little ways) we save every day. Here’s what I mean: say that we know that our kiddos are going to summer camp (think sleep-away or daily craft or robotics opportunities); often we will set aside some money during the year in anticipation of this expense.
These dollars may sit in our checking accounts and never be transferred to a savings account, but they are still saved dollars. This broader idea of saving opens up so many more options to save. If we actually look at these dollars as savings, we may realize that we ARE savers (I have to think that I am not the only one who worries that I am not really saving enough and therefore does not think of myself as a “real” saver). What if changing the way we think about savings (e.g., saving INCLUDES saving in anticipation of needing new glasses or our daughter needing braces) actually changes the way we think about savings?
What if the act of saving for braces or glasses or summer camp and it being acknowledged as SAVING makes us think of ourselves as savers? What if knowing that we actually CAN save makes us realize that we could save even more? I love this idea.
The definition of savings actually takes this broader idea into account, too. “Savings refer to money you put aside for future use rather than spending it immediately.” Yes.
While I was having this discussion (about how so many set-asides are actually saving) with a colleague recently, we remembered the idea of Christmas Clubs and how our parents set aside a specific amount of money each month in anticipation of Christmas shopping. That was (and is!) saving. Setting aside dollars for summer camp is saving, too.
In fact, Southern realized that account holders might need more ways to save and they began offering MyGoalSavings, which allows account holders to save right in their primary account. It works like a Christmas Club, but it isn’t a separate account; you set a savings goal for a specific thing (glasses, summer camp, a new car!) and then you set aside however much you want however frequently you’d like to. This savings is set aside within your account and won’t show up in your available balance, but can be accessed if you really need it. Another way that you can be a SAVER. Let’s change the way we all think about saving. Let’s all call ourselves SAVERS and see how that small change in the way we view ourselves (as successful savers) impacts our savings actions.