The Declaration of Financial Independence: ING direct

ING Direct, one of the pioneering online banks, has announced its new “We, The Savers” push, encouraging Americans to focus on finance fundamentals and put saving first.

In a letter on their Web site, CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann writes that we’ve made some mistakes, but can emerge stronger: 

There’s no denying it: America is in a tough financial spot, and some of the people in our financial industries have a lot to answer for. Eventually, they will. In the meantime, there is no way to turn back the clock on this crisis and not much the average person can do to alter its course. It has to play itself out, and we have to believe – and insist – that those responsible will play their parts in fixing it.

But what we can do is make sure, as the song says, we don’t get fooled again.

Below is a 10-point plan for exactly that. If you live by it, you’ll be in control of your financial life. If everybody lives by it, we’ll live in a stronger nation. We urge every American family to read it, talk about it together, commit to it. Then print it out and tape it to your refrigerator door. It’s a declaration of financial independence that will put your future into your own hands, where it was always meant to be.

ING’s 10-point plan is as follows.

  1. We will spend less than we earn.
  2. We will use our home as a savings account.
  3. We will take care of our money.
  4. We will defend our credit worthiness.
  5. We will ignore unsolicited credit card marketing.
  6. We will know the cost of borrowing.
  7. We will invest for the long term.
  8. We will take care of the things we have.
  9. We will remember what matters.
  10. We will be heard.

We can’t argue with any of the points — the level of finanical knowledge in the U.S. is way too low, and anything that can be done to improve it is a step in the right direction.

What We Would Add

Here’s what we would add to the decleration:

  1. We will remember that cash is king.
  2. We will attack debt to reduce it whenever possible.
  3. We will not be swayed by the hysteria and panic in the media.

Automate your finances feel comfortable

One of the biggest reasons you should put your finances on autopilot is for the sheer comfort of it.

Literally.

When your bills are getting paid automatically, your savings is being fed without you touching it, and your paycheck is going straight into your checking account, you don’t have to worry about them. It’s the biggest weight off of your shoulders.

You don’t need to find the time to head to the ATM. You automatically pay yourself first. You don’t have to worry about the post office losing your check in the mail.

The only bill I still pay by check is my credit card, and every other day I forget exactly when it’s due and, therefore, when I need to send it in. It’s weighing down on me.

So much about money management is mental. Am I saving enough? Should I save for the long run or the short run? Do I really need that thing I want?

The less you have to worry about, the better off you are. Don’t let your finances overwhelm you.…