To achieve maximum happiness, as soon as you finish reading this, you should start eating only spam, quit your gym, and get a horrible but high paying job (patent lawyer or international accountant come to mind). Then, funnel all the extra money into a savings account.
Ok, that might be a little extreme, but a survey released by SimplePayday suggests that having a lot of money saved up is more important to people’s overall sense of health and happiness than eating healthy foods, having a job they like, or exercising regularly.
In the survey, 84 percent of respondents said that having money in the bank was important to their overall appreciation of well-being, more than the 73 percent who said eating healthy foods, the 68 percent who said having a job they like, or the 59 percent who said exercising regularly were important.
Still, as important as savings is, it still trailed having good relationships and having time to relax and unwind, which is what you’d expect. Money in the bank doesn’t mean much if you don’t have any time to enjoy it or anyone nice to enjoy it with.
A larger proportion of people with savings also reported being happy compared to those without. Overall, 29 percent of those with no savings said they were “extremely or very happy,” compared to 42 percent of those with between £20,000 and £100,000 in the bank and a whopping 57 percent with more than £100,000 in savings.
One thing I do wonder though is how much of their happiness can be attributed to their fat savings accounts and how much of it can be chalked up to having the kind of income that lets you feasibly put away 100 stacks in savings in the first place. In another section of the poll, the biggest reasons people cited for not saving was “The amount of money I make,” “Paying off my debts and/or loans,” and “My basic living expenses.” And those are pretty valid reasons! It’s hard to get anything going savings-wise when you have to strain to cover food, shelter, and utilities.
How I use my smartphone to save
I’ve had an iPhone for almost two years (I know I was late to the party) and one of the nice things about having a smartphone is that it gives me the ability to go online whenever I have cell service. It’s saved my butt on more than one occasion.
With the internet at my fingertips, one thing I’ve done more often checks my banking information through the phone’s web browser. It’s a quick way to see if checks have cleared without calling the bank and navigating the painful IVR systems. However, I’ve always done this without much concern for security.
I know for a fact that the browser doesn’t show a lock icon when communication is encrypted, as it does whenever you use a regular web browser. I just assumed it was. While a mistake, it hasn’t hurt me (communication is encrypted, even if my phone doesn’t explicitly tell me), but I saw this Bankrate article on mobile banking safety and wanted to bring up the topic.
There are three ways you can bank through your phone:
- SMS: SMS stands for short messaging service and you’re probably most familiar with its incarnation as text messages. When you receive alerts via text message, it’s sent across SMS. If you’ve started using text messages to send codes to your bank to get your balance or limits or whatever, notice that it never contains any sensitive information like account numbers. Bankrate warns that phishing attempts, much like they always have in email, have started never send out data.
- Mobile Web: Mobile Web refers to using your phone’s internet browser to navigate to a bank’s website. The security here is just as strong as if you visited the website from your own computer. So, avoid those phishing emails, don’t click on links (go to the website directly or through a saved bookmark), and you should be fine.
- Downloaded Applications: These are actual programs that are built by banks and installed on your phone. They’re faster than the web interfaces and the most secure of all three methods because the bank built it themselves to interface with their servers. The only risk here is that the program may store your sensitive information on the phone or that you downloaded a hacked program (unlikely, especially if you go to the bank to get it).
Protect yourself when banking online
When banking online, it is important to protect yourself. Here are some things you can do to reduce the chances that someone will clean you out while you bank online:
Only Use Your Own Computer
Never log onto anything important from a public computer. This includes hotel lobby computers, local library computers, or even computers at your friends’ houses. You can never be sure how secure those machines our and it’s trivial to connect or install a keylogger somewhere. There’s also little reason to log onto anything important while you’re not at home because it can always wait until then.
Make Sure You Are on a Secure Site
The first thing you need to do is make sure that everything is secure on the financial website. Be sure that you are visiting the official website. This means that you can’t always trust emails that come claiming to be from your bank. The last thing you want to do is enter your account access information on a site sent to you via a phishing scam. Instead, enter the official address of your bank into the browser directly and log into banking from there.
Also, look for the “lock” icon by your address bar to determine if the connection is secure. You can also look for “https” instead of “HTTP” to determine whether or not a connection is secure. Before you enter your login information, make sure everything is secure. When you are done, log out of the account, empty the cache and then close the browser window.
Create a Good Password
Another important security measure to take is the creation of a secure password. A secure password is one that is difficult for someone else to guess — and one that may not be directly connected with your life. Your kids’ names, birthdays and other information that hackers can find by doing a sweep of your social media presence, are not good choices. Here are some guidelines for creating a good password:
- Make it at least 8 characters
- Use upper and lower-case letters
- Add in some numbers
- Consider using special characters when allowed (@, ^, $, etc.)
You should also change your online banking passwords often. Switch it up a few times a year so that hackers have less of a chance of stumbling upon it. Additionally, avoid using the same password for all of your bank accounts. If a hacker gets into one, he or she can get into all of your accounts if you use the same password.
Install Computer Security
You might also want to install computer security. There are a number of software programs designed to protect your computer. These include programs that create a firewall for your computer, as well as protect from spyware, adware, viruses and other malware that can infect your computer. Be sure that you update your security software regularly as new threats are identified daily.
Monitor Your Accounts
And, of course, there is a little substitute for vigilance. Monitor your bank accounts, checking for suspicious activity. Reconcile your accounts each month, and make sure that everything is in proper order. Regularly monitoring your accounts can help you ensure that you catch problems early on.
Saving is easy?
If like me you find saving and banking a chore. You’d much rather spend the money than save it. Banking apps can expedite the banking and saving process. It makes things quicker, that is for sure, but it won’t necessarily make you better at saving.
Saving at its core is simple. You save more than you spend. Savers can take heart from knowing they are happier than those without savings, but it still doesn’t make saving any easier! What do you think? Are you a saver or a spender? Do you use banking apps, do they help?