Before the wife and I started paying bills together (a few months before our wedding), I never really cared much about my money. My parents were still (mostly) helping me out, but once I got a full-time job, I was pretty much on my own.

We started out keeping a budget to track what we spent, which was great. But we didn’t really know how else to make our money worthwhile (besides spend it). Then I met my online savings account.

OK, I jumped a few steps, but after we met with a financial advisor, we were introduced to the little orange ball — ING Direct. A high-yield online savings account sounded great.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical at first, but after adding some money and watching the interest grow, I became obsessed. I would log into my online savings account every morning and at least a few more times each day, just to see the pennies and nickels our money was making. Plus the fact that ING gave us an extra $25 just for the hell of it — who would turn down free money?

Seeing the money work in the online savings account got me out of the mindset that having a lot of money in my checking account was a good thing. After we got married, we had a nice little influx of money in our Bank of America account — which wasn’t doing anything.

I came around to the idea that every penny we take in over a month should be going somewhere — whether it’s to pay our bills, invest in our Roth IRAs or in my 401k, or into the savings account. Money sitting in a checking account isn’t doing anything for you — even if your bank loves you for it.

I’ve just signed up with HSBC, who is offering a 5.05% APY, and plan to move most of our ING money, currently getting 4.35% APY, into there. But the ING referral system is great — once again, free money — so I’ll obviously keep that around.

Basically, when you sign up with ING and deposit $250, you get an extra $25. If you use one of the links in this blog post, I make $10 referring you.