Does anyone else have to hide their savings from themselves?

I like using ynab and spending with debit/credit cards, as opposed to physical money in envelopes, because when I see cash in my wallet my brain goes something like this: 'OO MONEY, I CAN BUY ALL THE THINGS. ' 

And then the money is 'suddenly' gone. haha But, after maybe 3 attempts at building a buffer/large emergency fund, and then almost immediately finding a reason to spend the money I had saved, I realized that seeing it sitting there in YNAB does the same thing to my brain as having real cash in my hands. 

Even though I know it's there for an emergency, or in case we lose our jobs, etc. That seems so much more vague than 'I need to pay XXX to this bill in 4 months'. Maybe because when 4 months hit, the bill is paid and the money is gone, but there isn't really a set end to the emergency funds/buffers...? 

So... last time we managed to get a baby emergency fund of $500 saved up, I hid the category in YNAB. With the cash in it. And I've succeeded in leaving it there for about 3 months now! Which, for me, is progress. haha 

But it feels silly because I'm hiding it from myself... even though whenever I want to I can un-hide it. And let's be honest, basically every time we get paid I scroll down to the bottom and unhide it just to see it, then rehide it again. haha 

Does anyone else do this? 

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    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 2 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I tried cash envelopes very briefly and it drove me batty.  I much prefer to use electronic means of payment.

  • I was in the same situation before I found YNAB.  Just having money sitting in my bank account seemed to scream "spend me." With a budget and the help of YNAB, I have goals I'm saving for.  Also had to give myself permission to let money sit.  That was a big one for me.  I would save up a few thousand then find something I could spend them on.  For me, it's all about goals and checking my category balance instead of the bank balance. 

    Been using YNAB for a few years now, and been saved a lot of heartache with that "emergency fund," been very grateful it was available.  For me, I had to value the emergency fund more than that "new shiny thing" at the store.  Today I value my "emergency fund" and various goals more than most of the "new shiny things" I find in stores.  

    Hoping you find your motivation to save up for your future.  

    Like 2
  • I absolutely hear you on this!

    Personally, I think it's completely reasonable to recognize what works for you, even if it seems "silly"! It can be SO hard to build new habits, and doing this may help you work on building the skill of "letting money sit" - at least at first! I think it's also worthwhile considering thinking about this like training wheels - after a few months of doing this, you may well find you feel confident enough to "unhide" this category and not be tempted to spend it.

    But if you've tried this a few times and found it hard to get yourself past that initial temptation, I think there's nothing wrong at all with finding a little way to "trick" yourself like this and make it easier to stick to your goals, so you aren't wasting energy on actively battling that temptation, at least until you feel more ready.

    You got this!! :)

    Like 3
  • I still hide $ under the board when we play Monopoly! I have a separate bank account that I transfer money into so that I don't see it in the daily chequing account.  I can't keep cash in my wallet or it's GONE.  We all have little mind-games we play.

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  • As its been said, we all have little mind games to help us "get to the next level" financially. I have started adding extra bits of money to bill categories. Sometimes just $3-5. My hope is that I'll sort of forget it's there, so if there's a lean month, I'll have half a water bill and half a light bill already accounted for. 

    Like 3
  • I have more money in emergency fund now than I have ever had at one time. I was really scared I would go crazy if I kept seeing the balance in my savings account and I would start thinking, "I can buy ALL the Pokemon Cards" or "I've always wanted to go on a cruise!" but the fear of having to move back in with my parents actually keeps my greedy hands off that money.

    Every time I want to spend some money in my emergency fund that isn't an emergency I think to myself, "Is it really worth buying this one thing and having to move back in with my parents sooner than expected??" 😂

    So far it has stayed my hand. 😂

    Like 3
  • I hide money by budgeting it to categories that i won't be spending from.

    Like 6
  • I hide my savings from myself, definitely! :D  I make deposits into savings for myself and my kids, which shows these accounts with positive balances.

    The savings accounts are listed as a Tracking account instead of a Budgeting one, which prevents me from relying on those funds or seeing it as part of my net worth since I'm technically handing some of the accounts over to the kids once they are of age.

    At the end of each month (after I've entered any dividends/distributions/interest), I use the savings categories I've made and enter a bogus expense/withdrawal in each account -- totaling the remaining balance of that account. That way, the account is essentially zero'ed out and it looks like I have no $$.

    I mark the "real" transactions in these accounts as "cleared" since it is what's reflected in the actual bank account itself. As for the bogus expenses/withdrawals, I never mark those as cleared -- that way when I reconcile the account, it reflects an accurate total.

    In reality, when I look at these particular savings categories, I can see how much I've actually set aside. (The categories are named "[Child1] Future Fund", "Emergency Fund", etc.) If I need to delete the bogus transactions down the road, I can simply filter for all the uncleared transactions and delete them.

    This is the method to my "hide-the-savings" madness and it's been working well for me so far. If someone has an easier way to do this, I'd love to hear it. :)

  • Learn to make spending decisions based on the dollars you've assigned to categories.  Don't look at account balances.  We have half a year's income sitting in our accounts (some is our emergency fund, some is our car fund, some is our home down payment fund, some is for vacations) and we're not tempted to spend it at all.  Because those dollars are assigned other jobs in our budget and are put to work doing other things.  We spend according to the categories, not according to the balance of our accounts.  

    Like 2
  • I absolutely hide my savings categories and take them out only long enough to add funds. Out of sight, out of mind works for me.

  • One thing that I am not currently doing, but has worked for me in the past is is to set up a separate savings account IN A TOTALLY DIFFERENT BANK.  Capitalized for emphasis...

    I had it to where a set amount goes into that "ghost" account every check straight from my employer's direct deposit. 

    The scope of the amount is entirely up to you.  I had $50 bucks per week going in there at the most, and I kept this account OFF of the budget.  At the time I was working with an employer where you could set all that up from any work computer you were logged in to.  So there was no paperwork hassle or anything.  If I needed to shut it off for a while due to some anticipated expenses I could, or change the amount for any other reason.

    This way that amount grows every check, and it doesn't reflect as a transfer.  It's like it's completely not even there. 

    I'd let that build up over the course of a few months, and then use that for toy or fun money. The goal always being to spend less than what was in there, of course.  I left savings goals that were on the budget alone this way.

  • Great idea!!  I need to do this too

  • One thing we did: opened a CD at our credit union (the same bank where all our accounts are held). The bank had an offer going on for a great rate on CDs. We made our first deposit at the minimum requirement and transfer a small amount of money to it every payday. It's great that we can't use it! Also, it is set to automatically renew at maturity, so it will continue grow unless we change this plan.

  • I personally find budgeting into future months to be sufficient for this. I try to make pulling from future months my absolute last resort, and I don't allow myself to think about how much money I actually have but rather how much I have for this month. That has been one of the most helpful elements of YNAB for me. 

    Like 1
  • When I want to save money what I normally do is to crate a fixed deposit. I get a little interese in favor but the main benefit is that money is real "saving money". 


    +gives you a little interest next month (or when ever you have setup)

    + this is really saving money because there is no way you can spend it


    - if there is an emergency when you need the money, then you may find some troubles


    I suggest to save something for emergencies (in your checking account) and at the same time put something in fixed deposit (fixed deposit for me is more useful for saving money than investment) This fixed deposit is tracked as tracking account.

  • Thank you, I've been really worried about this because that's exactly how my brain works: see a nice bank balance and immediately find reasons to spend. I just started using YNAB ten days ago and I had this feeling that my little "nest egg" budget was going to be used up to constantly adjust for overspending in other categories. I think this simple trick of just hiding the category should take care of that!

  • I relate to what Kate said.  Having experienced several emergencies in the past, without enough saved to deal with them as well as I'd have liked, these kinds of savings have a real meaning for me.

    I still wouldn't call mine "emergency fund" though, because that seems a bit abstract and therefore less important.  In my case I call it "Safe and Secure Fund" because then it feels like it's doing a job right now - keeping me feeling safe and secure.  So to take money out of it would have an impact on me straight away.

    In Kate's example I'd probably call it something like "Sleep in My Own Bed Fund".  😉

  • Rather than hiding your savings from yourself, use YNAB the way it was intended. Only spend what your category balances allow. If you must spend more, you'll have to decide what category you're going to move money from to cover the excess spending. It's as simple as that.

    Like 3
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