You know you should, but it's difficult to feed the piggy bank every time you get paid. Luckily, new bank accounts and the power of automatic savings plans may make it easier. And every little bit counts, after all.
“Saving is a whole lot simpler when you don’t have to think about it,” says a Bank of America marketing campaign (Stock Quote: BAC) for its Keep the Change program. With every purchase you make with your Bank of America check card, your purchase amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference is deposited into a savings account. Bank of America also says it will match your savings for the first three months after you enroll in the program and match 5% per year after that, up to $250.
If you have a Wachovia checking account (Stock Quote: WB), you can open a Way2Save account. Each time you make a purchase with your check card, pay a bill online or set up an automatic debit from your checking account, $1 will be transferred from your checking account to your Way2Save account, which gets a guaranteed APY of 5% for the first year, plus they’ll add on 5% of the amount you’ve saved. You can also set up automatic transfers of up to $100 a month, from your checking account to your Way2Save account.
Of course, many banks let you set up automatic transfers from checking to savings accounts online, and APYs may be higher at other banks (Bank of America’s Keep the Change program paid a variable APY of just 0.20% as of Monday). But these accounts could be perfect for those without the discipline to make regular transfers on their own.
Save When You Pay
An online bill pay feature gives you the option to paying bills electronically through automatic withdrawals initiated by your utility, credit card or other company. This is a must if you tend to forget when bills are due. (Those late fees are a killer.)
Just remember, you’ll have to make sure your bank account balance has enough funds to pay the bills when they’re due, or you could be subject to insufficient fund or overdraft fees.
Retirement Savings Under Your Radar
Anyone contributing to a 401(k) knows that contributions taken right out of your paycheck really add up over time, even if the market downturn has taken a chunk out of their balances in the past year. But even if you’re self-employed and contribute to an IRA, you can make automatic contributions as well if you have an account with Fidelity, Schwab (Stock Quote: SCHW) or other financial services companies that offer the feature.
Automatic for the Children
If you have kids and you’ve been making adequate contributions to your retirement savings plans, a 529 plan is a great investment vehicle to help you save for college. And you can schedule periodic automatic payments online. Minimum contributions can be as low as $25, and you may be able to set up automatic deductions from your bank account once every week, month or quarter.
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