Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
A relationship not often talked about is the one you have with your bank account. After all, it's a lifelong one, and probably one of the most important ones in your life. At least, it should be. That's why I asked 16 millennial women to explain their relationship to their bank account — the good, the bad, and the in-between. For instance, if you have a casual relationship with your bank account(s), maybe it's time to take things to the next level.
"Everyone should at least have an emergency savings account," Maggie Germano, certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women, tells Bustle. "This account is there to protect you when an emergency arises, like losing your job, getting sick, etc. Experts say everyone should have three to 12 months' worth of expenses saved in their emergency savings account. If you are self-employed, or have a family to support, you want to be on the higher end of that spectrum. And that amount can change depending on shifting circumstances. If you tend to pull money from your savings account for normal day-to-day spending, it might be best to disconnect your savings from your checking account. Consider using an online bank, like Ally Bank, which has a higher interest return, and makes it harder to transfer money right into your checking account."
OK, is it just me, or does the dipping-into-your-savings-account strategy sound way too familiar? I asked millennial women to talk about their relationship with their bank account, and here's what I found out.
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"I'm very aware of money and my spending, and prefer to use a debit or credit card over outright cash, because I reconcile my accounts at the end of each month. I use my debit card daily for even small transactions, because the electronic transactions are much easier to track. In terms of budgeting, I do track my upcoming expenses and allot money for those, as well as spending for meals and entertainment, since networking is a big part of my business. To make saving easy, I set up automatic transfers to my savings account so I don't have to think about it. I also have an automatic transfer to my stock account so I can effortlessly grow my money, too! Because I'm an entrepreneur, sometimes my cash flow isn't consistent, so I do dip in occasionally. However, on a good cash flow month, I'll move extra funds back to my savings, so it all evens out."
"I'm best friends with my bank account. I check my account at least three to five times per week to keep track of how much I have, what I'm spending, pending transactions, as well as to monitor for any charges I think shouldn't be there. I also have a debit card and three credit cards — I use my credit card like it's my debit card (I don't spend any money that I don't have). I have a savings account and have a minimum amount that I transfer over to it every time I'm paid (I do this manually every pay-day).
As for spending per week, I give myself a minimal budget — just enough for bills and to survive (maybe a fun dinner once or twice a month). I budget hard because I support myself and want to build a good safety net for emergencies. I want to feel secure with my money; maybe I'm overly cautious. Also, I love to travel and prefer to use my money for adventures and trips that leave me feeling more fulfilled and rewarded than buying a bag (though I may splurge once in a while if I do something awesome). If I ever dip into my savings account, it's because I'm not being paid. I have a steady 'career' job and get paid twice a month, but I've only ever dipped into my savings for big trips or if I quit my job or went on leave."
"I check my bank account weekly to make sure all purchases are accurate. I use my debit card much less than my credit cards, since I get cash back on my credit cards. However, I use my checking account to fully pay off all my credit cards every month. My mortgage and condo fee also come directly out of my checking account every month. I don’t allot a certain amount of money to spend per week/month, but I always have a good rough idea of if my spending is on track. A lot of my other bills are automatically charged to my credit cards per month. I do have a savings account — I try not to dip into it, unless I have a major unexpected expense, like an expensive car fix. I may also dip into my savings account when I travel to England/Ireland next month."
"I'm all plastic. I almost never carry cash unless I know I'm going to a bar that charges cover. I try not to spend more than $30/day, but sometimes I spend $0 on a weekday, then I go way overboard on my weekend spending (I'm not good at math, so in my mind it all equals out). I have a savings account that I irregularly deposit into, but I've never (knock on wood) dipped into it yet. I always try to keep about at least a couple hundred dollars more than my rent in my checking account, so I never have to dip into savings. I think the point of having a savings is to, y'know, save."
"I started my business just about six months ago, so my relationship to money is not a strong, healthy one. I have two maxed-out credit cards, so I typically use my debit card. In my ideal world, I'd only be purchasing the bare minimum necessities every month but, alas, I live in NYC and that’s just not possible. There is always something going on and somewhere to be that ends up costing you something. There's a saying that you can’t leave your apartment on any given day without spending at least $20. I do have a savings account that doesn't have much in it, but I do not dip into it. It's my 'oh sh*t' fund where, if I have to move spontaneously or have emergency travel to see a parent, there is something to use. I would rather have the maxed-out cards that I have to work on paying off than not have that fund."
"My relationship with my bank account is fairly healthy. I have a credit card for business expenses, but for my personal spending, I only use a debit card or cash that I have budgeted. I use my debit card one to two times every other day. I have a certain budget I set at the beginning of the month, and unless there is something very unexpected that arises, I stick to that spending budget for my debit card. I do have a savings account. I actually have two savings accounts — one for emergencies and one for travel. I only dip into these two accounts for a.) emergencies or b.) travel."
"I honestly never use my debit card. I use my Visa for everything so I can collect the travel rewards points. By paying for everything I can with it (groceries, phone bill, utility bill, car insurance, dog food, etc.), I end up saving enough points for a round-trip flight twice a year. I move the money I know I will spend on monthly expenses, plus rent, into a checking account to pay off my Visa once or twice a month. I also take $200 off the top of my paychecks to move into my investments. I put $100 into my Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and $100 into my savings, both of which live in my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). This allows me to save $400 a month without even noticing. The savings becomes a rainy-day fund in case I need to fix my car or if I lose my job. I try not to dip into it, but it sometimes happens. The RRSP is for future me if I decide to buy a house or for my retirement. So whatever is left from my paycheck after accounting for my expenses and monthly savings, I get to spend on whatever I want."
"I use my debit card for everything. I allot a certain amount per pay period and keep it on my credit card and move any excess funds to my savings in order to prevent myself from overspending. I have my checking account linked to the 'Keep The Change' option, which allocates excess change to my savings account automatically. Since linking it in the fall of 2015, I've earned over $450 in just extra change. In order to prevent myself from dipping into my savings account, I have an 'emergency' debit card to cover any unexpected expenses."
"I tend to use my debit card for most purchases. I use a mobile app called Mint that tracks and categorizes my purchases. I can budget a certain amount for certain categories. Though if I feel like I'm having a particularly off month, I tend to disregard the app altogether and don't want to look. I do have a savings account, but I have had it since I was born; though I have access to it, I have barely contributed to it since I turned 18. That being said, I have yet to dip into those savings. I'm very lucky to still have the ability to live at home, so I am able to save."
"I used to use my debit card daily, but I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card last year and wish that I had signed up sooner. I use my debit card very rarely now. I primarily use my Chase Credit Card on all purchases, since I accrue miles. I do not allot a certain amount of money to spend per week/month, but know what my limits are. Setting a limit would be the smart thing to do. I have two savings accounts: one with the same bank as my debit card with extra emergency cash and one at a separate bank, where I have a portion of my paychecks deposited to. I have dipped into it, but try my best not to and highly frown at myself when I do. My savings accounts are meant to grow and not to be used for impulsive, unnecessary purchases."
"I'd say my relationship with my bank account is pretty healthy. The higher the number in there, the more comfortable I feel. I am very particular about what I spend money on and, since becoming more 'responsible,' I guess, my relationship with my bank account has changed. I use my debit card for most purchases in person; otherwise, I do a lot of transferring between accounts for bills and such. I also shop online a lot, too, and I've found that's more deliberate than in person. It's easier to stick to what I mean to buy online. I used to never carry cash, until I realized that sometimes it's not practical or it's just easier to have cash in the case of a 'cash only' business or small purchase that I don't want to wait for my bank to process.
I do allot a certain amount of money, not necessarily to spend, but I do initially separate my finances in terms of rent and bills, things that need to be paid immediately or first, and then have a better idea of what I have left to 'spend.' Although, again, I've changed the way I see this 'spending money.' I do have a savings account that I put money into every pay period. Even if it's a little amount, I make every intent to put money away when I get paid. If I am saving specifically for something and want to separate that money from my general bank account, then I will dip into it when I am ready to buy whatever it is; otherwise, not unless there is an emergency. I find that these 'emergencies' happen very rarely, too, and if you are really intent on saving, then you will."
"My debit card(s) go with me everywhere I go. I actually have three of them. I do have a savings account (now), and I'm finally getting the hang of putting money in there and NOT touching it! For so long, I've had the 'you can't take it with you when you die' mentality, so I'm working my way out of it. I actually removed the balance updates from my mobile app so it would be outta sight! It's helped tremendously."
"I use my debit card nearly daily — I very rarely carry cash. I have a savings account, which I transfer half my paycheck into a month (student loans, seriously, as well as very minimal contributions to a Roth IRA and investment account), and I use the leftover as my monthly 'budget.' I almost always spend my entire (half) paycheck by the end of the month. I dip into the savings account when I plan a trip, but try to refill it within the next month."
"I recently developed a healthy relationship with my bank account. I went back to the caveman days and only use cash for entertainment. I set aside a certain amount at the beginning of the month and put the rest of my money, after paying off my bills, in my savings account. I rarely dip into my savings, because it's there for emergencies and for the future, so I pretend it's money I don’t have."
"I primarily spend on my credit cards, to earn points and miles for traveling for free. I have an upcoming trip to Europe with my best friend from high school that I'm almost exclusively paying for with credit card points and miles. That being said, I don't use a debit card ever — just cash, credit, or checks (just for rent). I don't really follow a budget, just because my natural spending never exceeds my monthly income. I do check my checking account after paying credit card bills every month to make sure everything is still under control. I have a couple savings accounts, which earn different interest amounts. One is just connected to my bank and I have weekly scheduled deposits into it. The other, I add any extra money at the end of the month I feel I can part with. Right now, I don't dip into either, but I'm in school for a master's degree and may start pulling from my bank-connected savings account as I get further into the program. Fingers crossed I won't have to though!"
"I have a good relationship with my bank, Chase. I actually don't use my debit card, and only use my credit card (Sapphire Reserve). Aside from rent and bills, I allot $200 to spend per week. I have a savings account, but never dip into it. Because I use my credit card, I have more control over my spending. Fortunately, I have more in my checking account than my credit line, so I haven't had to dip into my savings account for more than six years now."
As you can see from the above, many millennial women take their relationships with their bank accounts quite seriously. Personally, I know I'm going to reevaluate mine, and get to a more "serious" relationship status versus "casual." Hopefully, you've been inspired to, as well.
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