Buckets — the simple solution for your spending and savings goals
Jan. 17, 2023 • 3 min read
What we'll cover
What savings and spending buckets are
The benefits of using buckets
How you can use savings and spending buckets
Does thinking about money management make you want to run and hide or throw up your hands in frustration? We get it. When it comes to your overall financial picture, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of. You have necessary expenses, such as bills and groceries. And don’t forget the fun things like concerts, pet toys and dining out.
But besides the money that goes out, you’re probably trying to save some cash as well — for vacations or maybe an education fund. Putting all those pieces together is a big task. That’s why we created buckets to help simplify the process. When you use both savings and spending buckets in tandem, you can make managing your finances that much easier.
What's the difference between spending and savings buckets?
Put simply, buckets are like digital envelopes where you can earmark money for specific expenses or savings goals. You can use buckets with both your Ally Bank Online Savings Account and Interest Checking Account . Here’s a breakdown of both:
These savings buckets can be found in your savings account, allowing you to easily set up buckets for mid- and long-term goals, for instance, an upcoming vacation, an emergency fund or maybe a down payment on a home. You designate what each bucket is for and what percentage of your paycheck or other income you want to allocate to different categories (up to 10 buckets). Either manually move funds to your savings buckets with the distribute tool or set up automatic contributions.
This bucket option lives in your checking account. Depending on your priorities, you might create spending buckets (up to 30 of them) for expenses like your rent, utilities and entertainment. Similar to savings buckets, you can choose what each bucket is for and how much of your money you want to allocate to different categories. You can also have the funds distributed automatically or move them manually.
A comprehensive financial plan with both buckets
Both bucket options are helpful on their own, but when you use them together, they're even better.
Build a better budget
Do your eyes glaze over when you look at a budget spreadsheet? You’re not alone. Ditch the rows and cells for buckets — and a more visual approach to budgeting. First, map out how much will go toward monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, car, groceries) — or anything you want to keep track of — in your spending buckets. Once you have a clear picture of where your money is going, then you can set realistic goals for your savings buckets (vacation, wedding, down payment).
Read more: Budget your way to financial success with these easy templates
Find extra money hiding in plain sight
When all your money is grouped together in a lump sum, it can be difficult to spot things like overspending or savings opportunities. Once your fixed expenses and savings goals are clearly mapped out with both buckets, you can take a closer look at unbucketed money and decide how to best utilize it. When you see just how much money you have left over, you can be more conscious about spending and saving goals day to day.
Balance spending and saving
With your spending and savings goals mapped out with buckets, you can more easily pivot with any changing circumstances. Say an unexpected expense — such as a friend’s wedding or car repair — pops up, and you don’t have enough unbucketed cash in your checking account to cover it. With your bucketed perspective, you can dip into your savings, if needed, without worrying about how it will impact your other goals.
More benefits of buckets
Unlike complicated spreadsheets or using multiple accounts, buckets are a simple and sustainable solution, taking the guesswork out of creating a spending and saving plan. Buckets are also motivating. It’s one thing to say you’re saving up, but it’s another to see that money add up for a specific goal — like that dream vacation.
With spending buckets, you might realize you’re spending way more on some regular expenses than you thought and then find ways to rearrange your budget to accommodate new or increased costs. Maybe you’ll cut some streaming services in order to afford that new car payment.
Bucket your way to financial success
Coordinating your spending and saving is no simple feat. With buckets, you can easily organize, analyze and optimize your money. Together, savings and spending buckets streamline managing your monthly expenses and your savings goals.
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