Set a budget and stick to it. This is the advice that has been hammered into our heads as the golden rule of personal finance. But for many people, creating a budget plan is overwhelming, and sticking to it is an even more difficult task.
As a financial analyst and podcast host Funding for popcornI hear about the effective strategies people use to make budgeting easier.
True to its name, the High-5 banking method involves holding what Pierce calls the “perfect number of bank accounts” – two checking accounts and three savings accounts.
The goal is to keep track of individual budget areas in your accounts rather than in a spreadsheet, while establishing a routine for transferring money to separate accounts each payday.
âWhen we teach kids to count, we start with the basics of finger counting from one to five and then move on to six to 10,â says Pierce. âI wanted to make it so easy for us to remember how many bank accounts you need – just look at your hand. “
Each finger represents either a checking account or a savings account:
1. Current account of invoices
These are mandatory expenses, which usually represent a large percentage of your income. But not paying them can quickly affect your life and your credit score.
- Lodging: Rent, mortgage, property tax
- Debt: Credit cards, car loans, student loans
- Utility bills: Electricity, water, cell phone, gas, internet
- Races: This does not include restaurant meals
2. Lifestyle checking account
It is for all your “desires”. Transfer a fixed amount of money to the account each payday to cover anything that brings you joy. Once the account hits zero, stop spending until your next deposit.
- Personal care: Hairdressing salon, spa days, gym membership
- The essentials at home: Paper towels, toothpaste, detergent
- Entertainment: Movies, subscriptions, entertainment
- Eat outside: Restaurants, food delivery, bars
- Various: Shopping, fun outings
3. Emergency fund savings account
This financial safety net is reserved for potential future incidents and unforeseen expenses. Most experts recommend keeping at least three to six months of living expenses.
- Medical emergency: Surgery, disease
- Job Loss: Get fired, fired, suspended
- Home repairs: Leaky roof, plumbing, bad weather
- Car problems: New battery, accidents
4. Long-term savings account
We all have big dreams with a high price tag. This account allows you to easily track progress over time and allocate money to any goals that will take more than 12 months to achieve.
- Deposits: New car, home
- Great trips: A family trip abroad
- Marriage: Rings, ceremony, reception, honeymoon
- New baby: Childbirth costs, fertility treatments, adoption
5. Savings account for short-term goals
The fifth and final account is about the short term goals you want to achieve over the next 12 months.
- Upgrades: New phone or laptop
- Special gifts: Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays
- Small activities: Cruises, road trips, sporting events, concerts
- Annual expenses: Registration, automobile insurance, group purchases
You don’t need to open all five accounts at once, says Pierce, especially if you don’t have the financial means.
You can start with the three most important – bills, lifestyle, and emergency fund – and then work your way up as you are able to contribute to different savings goals.
A few other tips that Pierce recommends to keep in mind:
- Try not to keep all of your accounts at the same bank. If there is a technology failure at one institution, for example, you have accounts at other banks to lean on.
- Take advantage of free budgeting apps that let you connect all of your financial accounts, including your retirement accounts.
- Only open accounts suited to your situation. For example, if you don’t have long term goals right now, don’t force that account until you’re ready.
- Consider automating your savings into a high-yield online savings account, which may pay better interest rates than your typical institution.
Chris Browning is the financial analyst and the creator and host of the award-winning podcast Funding for popcorn. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and also works as a financial analyst specializing in income analysis. Follow him on Instagram.