Monday, 28 September 2009

Savings - different purposes - annual bills

While I've long recognised that saving was a sensible and probably virtuous thing to do, and have been in the habit of saving money where possible, it has taken me quite a few years to work out that there are several different categories of saving, which it makes sense to treat separately.

In this post,  I'm looking at annually recurring bills: saving for these this is not really saving at all, just spreading the cost of household bills which need to be paid for irregularly.  I used to find that my savings account would get a severe beating in mid-summer every year, when several insurance policies, car servicing, not to mention holiday costs, all fell due around the same time. A few years' ago I read somewhere about the idea of an "annual bills" jar.  The way it works is very straightforward; you need to add up all the bills which you need to pay less often than monthly, estimate their amounts, ideally add a bit to allow for miscalculations or increased premiums, divide the total by twelve, and then set up a direct debit from current account to savings for that amount each month.  You can then transfer money back to the current account to pay the irregular bills, as they come up.

Another advantage of this approach is that it should avoid the temptation to sign up for any regular payment schemes which you may be offered with insurance and similar; they usually include a hefty amount of interest and are therefore best avoided.

If you like, as well as annual bills you could include a payment for Christmas and Summer holiday expenses, as they are also recurring and standard; I used to lump these categories into my annual bills budget though I have recently, possibly over-fussily, set up a separate jar for holidays.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, calculating how much you need for annual bills is a pretty useful thing to do. I'd say it helps if you use an online bank which makes it relatively easy to set up various different accounts and standing orders between them, such as Intelligent Finance.