It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Presents, parties, pantomimes. Tickets to the Nutcracker. Messiah singalongs. Party dresses. Warm coats. Toys for Tots and toys for your tots. Live Christmas Trees. Christmas Cards. This time of year is festive, but it’s also expensive. We are pretty good at having a fairly constant budget for day-to-day expenses, but when those big, um, festive months hit, it’s nice to have a little extra cushion.
I’ve been using Capital One bank accounts for years to help manage our financial life, so when Clever Girls and Capital One approached me to give my tips on financial health in the New Year, I was happy to accept. Lots of people know about Capital One’s no-hassle credit cards, but their 360 Savings Accounts are seriously great. There are no minimums and no fees – you manage them all online and can link them to other accounts. With no minimums and an easy user interface, you can create multiple accounts with seriously no hassle. I use Capital One for my Domestic Front bank account; I also keep a separate account to link to auction sites, which minimizes my risk if the account gets compromised. But what I really love is their Automatic Savings Feature.
I set up multiple accounts in different categories – home repairs, car repairs, vacation, summer, and Christmas, and have a little bit deducted from my checking account each month. It goes out automatically, so I barely notice the amounts are gone – and then when a big bill comes due, I’ve got a little nest egg to help pay for it. Here are some of the things we’ve used our Capital One accounts to pay for in the past couple of years:
Anyone who has school-age children knows that summer programming for kids gets expensive. Summer school, summer camps, summer help to take care of your kids while you’re working and they’re NOT in school. Each year, we send my daughter to this absolutely amazing day camp where she gets to swim and learn archery and ride horses and play in the mud and spend all day outside building forts and playing games and learning silly songs. She loves it; I love that she’s having an old-fashioned summer camp experience with no screens and no pressure. What I didn’t love was writing that big check in May for tuition. It always took me by surprise. Now I have a summer camp account that gets ‘fed’ monthly, and come May, I can transfer the funds into my regular checking account and write that check without feeling like I need to sell my first born child to pay for her summer camp.
I think it’s imperative to get away as a family, but there’s never a ton of extra money to pay for a trip. With my Capital One vacation account, I feel better about justifying a family vacation without feeling so cash-strapped I can’t enjoy it. It also allows us to save for dream trips that we wouldn’t manage without a lot of planning.
As you might have heard, California has been experiencing a years-long drought, and many of our local water districts were offering a rebate for replacing lawn with more drought-friendly landscaping. We were able to take advantage of the limited rebate funds, but it didn’t cover all of the cost of converting our front yard to a water-wise paradise. Fortunately, we had been stashing money into our Capital One account for home projects; and were able to pay for the landscaping without relying on high-interest-rate credit cards. Since we’ve done this, not only does our front yard look MUCH better, but our water bill has gone down by 40% – a worthy investment!
I think of my Capital One 360 accounts as virtual envelopes, where I can stash cash for a rainy day. They help me stick to my budget and manage my money. You can set money aside at a specific rate, or you can use their built in “Savings Goals” tool to determine how much you need to save by what date. It’s a great motivator as well as manager.
Do you have any financial goals for the New Year? What resolutions are you making, and can Capital One help you keep them?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.