Proposition #2: Savings or Checking Account?

Proposition #2 asks Summit County voters to approve the transfer of $2 million dollars from the County’s “rainy day fund” to the general fund. Summit County Council Member Chris Robinson said that this would be akin to transferring money from a savings account to a checking account. This got me thinking about the way I manage my own bank accounts.

Like the County, I’ve seen my own revenue decline over the last two years, and like the County, I have also taken money out of my savings accounts to pay the bills. I have one savings account that I use to pay my student loan obligations, and that’s the only thing I use that money for no matter how hard up for cash that I might be. I have another savings account that I use for “rainy days” and another account for my investments. I also use my checking account to pay my expenses, and although that account fluctuates, I never let it get below a certain level that’s comfortable for me.

I’ve transferred money to my checking account for expenses that I haven’t anticipated such as a big car repair bill, some medical and dental bills, and once in a while, for an insurance payment that I just can’t cover within my monthly budget. I really try not to use my savings to pay for “extras” but since I my employers pay me monthly, it seems like I’m always running out of money before the end of the month. I find myself sneaking off to the ATM for quick cash a little more often these days. But I do try and pay my savings account back when I “borrow” money from it.

I have tried to cut expenses lately. I cut off my cable TV, and I rarely go out to eat. I have a wicked book habit, so I’ve tried to cut down on purchasing books when I can visit our excellent library instead. But there are some things I just refuse to do without. I get the New York Times delivered on Sunday and even though that’s fairly expensive, I’d rather eat beans all month than live without the Sunday paper. We all have unique ways of managing our money and making individual choices that we learn to rationalize one way or another. The question is whether our Summit County Councilors have provided a sufficient justification for the voters.

The County has $12 million set aside in its “savings” account and it has cut services in order to try and balance its “checking”  account. If we are faced with a choice of cutting ambulance service and/or curbside recycling, I’d be willing to vote in favor of Proposition #2. I think ambulance service is an essential while curbside recycling is more like my subscription to the New York Times. We might be able to live without it, but more people recycle when they can put their trash out on the curb. It makes being a good citizen a little easier, just like being more informed on Sunday allows me to make better decisions at the polling booth.

How many of you have dipped into your savings accounts to pay for every day expenses? How do you decide when it’s a rainy day or just an expense that you can postpone until you have a little more revenue? How do you distinguish between what you need and what you want?

http://kpcw.org/2011/10/community-voices-october-27-2011/

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