SmartyPig (aka: Conferences are Expensive)

I love Conferences.

I just do.

However…They do dent the wallet.

Since attending AASL in Charlotte a few years ago, I was hooked on going national. I attended last year. I intend to attend next year. When I talk to other librarians about taking their professional development national and attending with me I often hear that it’s too expensive. It’s also time away from home, etc. I understand– I really do!

So a few months ago when I decided that I needed to budget better. (Because you’ve read these blog posts of mine when I say that it’s ‘not very expensive’ but that I spent $20-30? It does add up. And I make school purchases maybe faster than I should. Shoes might also contribute to my lack of budgeting…… hypothetically.)

I may not have mentioned how awesome my sister is, but she is fairly awesome. Well, completely awesome! (Since my mom reads this blog….)

Anyway, she is much brighter and more responsible than I. She budgets. It’s such a great skill. She introduced me to Smarty Pig. Smarty Pig is a banking website. It allows you to set up a designated account for a goal or a project. You can invite others to contribute to a goal (for gift giving or whatnont), have money automatically added from another bank account each month, or make your own donations toward a goal when you have the extra funds. The accounts earn interest. You can sometimes redeem the savings with gift cards that have more money or get cash back into your regular account. You can choose to get a cash back pre-paid debit card that you load and earn 1% cash back toward one of your goals.

I love Smarty Pig because I can take one of my larger annual expenditures, like my annual vet visit, and divide it up into a monthly payment to myself that comes automatically from my checking account. I’m hoping this evens out some of my bills so that I’m not forking over $600 every June for shots and heartworm meds. I’ll have it saved, I can transfer it to my SmartyPig card, and when I spend that money I also get the cash back added toward a savings goal.

Fun, eh? (You know, as far as finance goes…)

This summer I realized in just a year I would be paying my AASL registration, a few months later buying a plane ticket, and then a few months later paying for a hotel and souvenirs! I set up my SmartyPig goal so that by the time those deadlines comes I will have most of the funds saved for my conference experience and my back account won’t suffer too much!

Not very ‘library-y,’ but in this world educators are paying the bulk of their professional development. We should be attending experiences like local, state, and national conferences. If saving the money is a stumbling block, then Smarty Pig may be a tool for you!

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