Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to Get $200 With Just a Few Keystrokes

I could write a letter to my grandson about this, but his life is hard enough, with his Mom, Stepdad Chris, and me all friending him on Facebook - and keeping an eye on it, too.  And really, it's one of those rediscoveries that seems so excellent I want to share it worldwide. 
Scenic train
This really is about how to get easy money, though not $5 million dollars and acreage in Nigeria.  This is real.  I, an old grandmother on pension, do have $200 in a savings account at my credit union, and all I had to do was set up one monthly e-transfer from my checking account.

If I'm e-banking, I can only think everyone else who has any dollars at all is, too.  In the course of setting up my new checking account (having realized that credit unions treat people better than big national banks that spend a lot on advertising) I protected myself against late fees by setting up a transfer of $20 on the first of each month to my personal credit card.  So I learned how to do that.

When I joined the credit union, they'd required that I set up a savings account, too, with $5 in it.  That's all I had to do. But I thought, Hmm.  I could just have them transfer $10 a month into that savings account.  I could do that and not miss it.  So I did.  And that mounted up without me noticing it.  When it hit $100, I thought, I wouldn't miss another $10 a month, either, so I changed it to $20 a month.  And today it went over $200.

Two hundred dollars.  That was beginning to impress me.  I could buy - oh, heck - lots of different luxuries with that.  A weekend retreat, if you want to be spiritual about it.  If you don't, a distinctive Hermes silk twill pocket square (and have a few dollars left over - very few). You never see those at the thrift store.

I had the wild thought that I should start a similar account for said grandson, just having $10 a month transferred into it for the next ten years.  When he graduates from college he could come into it.  Figuring at 2% compound interest (savings account interest is low these days, even at the credit union), it would come to $1,326.16.  If I wanted to grow it faster, when it hits $500 I could invest that in the stock market, and add to it with the next $500.  Invest in something with high-growth-potential like Contrafund. Even if I didn't do that, just let it sit there safe in the credit union, the money would buy him a nice Eurail pass, with the 35% discount for young people who don't mind travelling second class.  He could stay at hostels, have some fun.  I wish I'd done it when I still could, except I never really was that young.  (Insert rueful smile.)

I started my first savings account when I was about 12.  I don't remember much about that, except that interest was reliably 4% then.  This was the fifties, before credit cards became popular, so that's what people did - they saved until they could afford a new stove, or whatever.  I know, what a weird idea.  Getting along without something until you could pay for it.

I get the impression that these days a lot of Americans don't have any savings at all, that that's what's meant by living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Always a really bad idea.  It would make me very nervous.  I am convinced that anyone can save something.  The trick is, get it started.  Make it regular and automatic, and don't withdraw it the first impulse you get.  Save it for an important dream or a third notice from the gas company.

I'm not saving for anything right now.  I just enjoy watching it mount.  You never know.  There - "you never know" - that's a word of Zen.


  1. Would you believe me if I told you I didn't even have a bank account!?

    Because I don't!

    1. Don't have an account, or don't believe you don't have an account?

      Either way, one of the most significant facts of being human is the decay of body, energy, mind we call aging. Barring accident, it will happen to you. It will, and you will care then about staying alive. How will you eat and where will you live when you can no longer work? Who will pay for that?

      Living fully in the moment doesn't mean pretending there is no tomorrow.

      I know you're in a transitional time of your life, and don't feel committed to life as a monk or life in the world. Once you do commit, you'll need to start thinking about caring for your future self. May I suggest "Provide, provide" by Robert Frost.

      With a deep bow -

  2. you might like the talk by Ajahn Amaro on Anatta :