Want to know how to really make your bank accounts grow? Copy what financial planners do. We grilled real financial planners to find out how they manage their own money.
1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST BY TRANSFERRING YOUR SAVINGS TO A DIFFERENT ACCOUNT.
"I always take my savings from my paycheck the day I’m paid and I transfer it to my savings account. The money is out of sight and out of mind. It is very rare to find a person who can’t spend more money if you give it to them. By taking the money out at first, you remove the temptation to spend those savings, and have a savings process in place."
– Robert Finley, principal at Virtue Asset Management, a fee-only independent advisor serving the greater-Chicago area
2. PAY ALL YOUR BILLS EVERY PAYCHECK.
"I use credit cards to acquire the points from spending. By paying the credit cards off every two weeks [rather than once a month], I make sure I never forget a payment, and it helps keep my balances lower for reporting purposes. This process of paying bills every paycheck prevents missing bills or late payments. It also allows me to have a better handle on cash flow, because I am reviewing my financial picture every two weeks."
3. DON'T USE A DEBIT CARD OR ATM MACHINES.
"I use cash whenever possible, and I don’t want to have to pay the ATM transaction fees. I also believe I am in better control and am more mindful of my spending when I am using cash. Cash purchases make it feel very real."
– Anne Brennan Malec, licensed clinical psychologist and financial therapist in Chicago
4. REVIEW ALL CHARGES.
"When I do use credit cards, I always review every charge to make sure no fraud has occurred and to bring an accountability to my spending—to make me aware of how much I spent in the last month on food, clothing, transportation. Awareness is the first step in the change process. I also review my Mint account to be sure I am spending within my budget."
5. SUBSCRIBE TO FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES.
"Food and dining expenses can quickly add up each month, and will-power is a muscle that can tire at the end of the day. It is not uncommon to have the very best intentions to plan to stop at the grocery store after work and pick up some items for dinner, but because you are tired and hungry, you decide instead to order in. In order to defend against this very human impulse, I began to subscribe to Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh. These allow customers to order meals in advance, and deliver the complete food kit to your home. The benefit is that you are no longer faced with the 4 p.m. dilemma of what to make for dinner."
6. PAY DOWN YOUR MORTGAGE BEFORE RETIREMENT.
"Not only is this one less payment to make, but it’s psychologically liberating."
– Marianela Collado, certified public accountant with Tobias Financial Advisors in Florida
7. MAKE THE KIDS PAY.
"Kids should have some skin in the game when it comes to college funding. This enables college kids to be vested in their degree versus not really appreciating the cost going into their education. It creates a sense of responsibility on them to be focused, to finish on time, and to make sure they have a degree that will enable them to get a job to pay off student loans, or to pay while in school."
8. SEPARATE DISCRETIONARY AND FIXED SPENDING.
"We have a set amount of cash that we use every two weeks for what we call "discretionary items"—groceries, kids activities, entertainment, and gas. This helps us keep our spending in check because these are the areas where we can get into trouble. For these, we put the money onto our debit card, and [use our bank's app to monitor the balance]. If the money isn’t available, we don’t go out to eat. All of my fixed bills (mortgage, phone, insurance, TV, etc.) are paid on the last of the month out of one separate account."
– Paul Sydlansky, certified financial planner and founder of Lake Road Advisors in Binghamton, New York