Many of the Spanish-speaking members of the crew took part in an unusual "banking" scheme where each week all the members of a large group would sign over all their paychecks to one guy. The recipient was selected on a rotating basis, and the way it worked, I gathered, was that for about two months or so everybody squeaked by, doing their best to make do without a check, spending little... until the day it was their turn, at whcih point they came into thousands of dollars and could spend like drunken sailors.
This practice made no sense to me. It also required an extraordinary amount of trust in one's fellow cooks. I did not share my comrades' confidence that Luis, for instance, wouldn't skip town on a drunk after getting his big payday and leave the others in the lurch. I held on to my meager paycheck. I had no time to spend it anyway.I know that's it's difficult for grad students and postdocs to save money, but this sort of pooling would seem like a great way for an emergency fund of some kind. Granted, you run into the same problem -- how much do you trust your labmates with your money? Who is the treasurer? Which 5-gallon can of solvent do you drop on their feet when they skim off the top -- the acetone or the dichloromethane?
Readers, what's the best way for graduate students and postdocs to have some meager savings?