SmartyPig Review

If you’re looking at jump starting your savings goal or need help staying focused on it, you may want to look at SmartyPig. I’ve heard a lot about the account, so I decided to review its features.

Setting Up an Account with SmartyPig

It’s FDIC insured, you have a competitive interest rate (2.15% right now), and there are no fees to maintain the account. SmartyPig is not a bank, its accounts are held at BBVA Compass. Like with your brick and mortar bank, you need to fill out the financial paperwork to open an account with SmartyPig.

You set up your funding ($25 minimum) and you can elect to have an automatic transfer into your savings.

What’s Your Savings Goal?

Besides getting your financial information, SmartyPig has the additional step of having you create a specific savings goal for your account. If you watch the video that SmartyPig has up, you can see the different goals you can have for your account.

  • Vacation
  • Car Fund
  • Home Improvement

The minimum amount for a savings goal is $250 and the maximum is $250,000. The idea is to move away from the instant gratification of irresponsible use of credit cards towards a cash based system. While it might be a bit of pain getting towards a goal, you can make a guilt free purchase.

Is it working? Are people taking advantage of this online savings system? SmartyPig released some statistics on their customers’ saving habits.

  • The average SmartyPig customer’s saving goal is just shy of $5,000 with the average length of a goal being 24 months.
  • Nearly 75% of all SmartyPig users are between the ages of 18-35. More than 85% are between the ages of 18-45. (Figure doesn’t include accounts for minors)

It’s a step in the right direction, having people motivated to save.

Social Savings – Involving Family and Friends 

Allowing family and friends to add to your savings account through social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, is a unique feature. It’s a great way for friends and family to see what your financial goals are and it gives them the ability to contribute to them.

It’s also a way for your to have some accountability for your finances. Positive peer pressure can help you meet your goal. Do have this option, when you set up your account, make sure you choose “accept contributions”.

What happens when you reach your goal? You have a few options:

  • ACH transfer to your checking account – You can send you money to your checking account to use.
  • SmartyPig Debit Card – You have a debit card from SmartyPig that you can have reload from future savings goals.
  • Retail Gift Cards -You can earn a bonus on top of your savings, depending on the vendor.

Retailers that have partnered up with SmartyPig include:

  • Amazon (4% bonus)
  • American Airlines (3% bonus)
  • Barnes & Noble (5% bonus)
  • Best Buy (3% bonus)
  • Jared (7% bonus)
  • Macy’s (12%)

If you’re saving up for a TV, using a retail card can give you a slightly better deal. Weigh your options to get the best deal for you.

Thoughts on Using SmartyPig

SmartyPig seems a good option for people looking at saving for a specific goal. I think this could be a great place to park you money for a car replacement fund or your next vacation.  I wouldn’t use this for an emergency fund even though the interest rate is better than most places.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you opened an account with SmartyPig? What do you think of the service?

How Rich People Think-Interview with Steve Siebold

how rich people think steve siebold

How Rich People Think and What You Should Know

I’ve had the pleasure of reading How Rich People think by Steve Siebold a few weeks ago. I think his new book is a great fit for those needing a starting point on how to tackle their finances. Intrigued by it, I sent some questions to the author to pick his brain on the topic.

I’m happy that Mr. Siebold took the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions about his new book and the ideas behind it. I think his interview is a wonderful showcase for his writing style – inspiring and direct.

Here is some basic information on the book if you’re curious:how rich people think steve siebold

Steve Siebold Interview

What was the decision process on writing this book? What was your motivation for writing about the topic NOW (instead of years ago)?

What I learned from interviewing the rich made me a millionaire, and anyone can do the same. Many people don’t understand that what they think is dictating their behavior. This book represents 26 years of interviews and teaches the reader the mindset of the wealthy. With all the talk of financial doom and gloom, I think this book exactly what many people need to rebuild their portfolios.

While the masses are depressed and running for cover, NOW is the time to stake your claim and build your fortune! Every product and service is on sale, and thousands of wealthy investors are hungry to fund new start up businesses and ideas with the potential to produce big returns.

For those not familiar with your terminology, how would you describe “world class people”?

The term world-class, in this context, refers to the level of financial success these people have attained. They are literally among the wealthiest people in the world.

How easy to you think it is for people to acquire a “world class” attitude?

It’s a decision that you make. If you want world-class success, a world-class attitude will be a great asset on your journey. The powerful people you will need to attract will be much easier to find if you have the right attitude.

As a site on family and finances, I’m curious – how do you think couples can both develop a world class mindset?

Study the differences in thinking between the middle class and the rich, and begin to adopt the beliefs and philosophies of the wealthy. It’s easier and more fun to learn this as a team, and I think couples have a great advantage because of that.

Some readers may not know this, but you’re an expert on mental toughness. How has that helped you with your own career and finances?

Mental toughness is about controlling your thoughts and emotions, and getting rich begins with thinking. Mental toughness helped me break away from the middle class thinking that had me broke and in debt, because it went against what most people in my inner circle believed. Of course, they were also broke!

I finally realized I had to escape the consciousness that kept me poor and embrace the mindset of the rich. Some people understood, others didn’t. In the end, it was mental toughness that helped me stick to my plan long enough to win.

What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?

The biggest mistake I made was getting in my own way. I had so much lack and limitation brainwashing from years of exposure to middle-class thinking that I often pushed back on the advice I got from millionaires. I was earning $38,000 a year and they were making that much in a day, yet I was questioning their advice. It was pure stupidity. Most of us are own worst enemies, and one of the best things I ever learned in life is to seek the counsel of the successful and follow their advice to the letter.

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Please check out my review at the Yakezie site (a great resource!) to see my thoughts on the content and layout of the book.

Foreign Exchange Trading – A Viable Investment Option?

forex investing

Today’s guest post is  on forex investing as a possible option in your portfolio. As with everything in personal finance, you should examine for yourself if this is a good option for you.

The Traditional Method of Retirement Investing May Be Dead forex investing

The 2008 Global Credit Crisis changed things.  In the wake of a near complete collapse of the global financial system, a metaphorical “reset” button was hit.  Time will prove if this is true, but the ravishing effects of the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis may have set off a new trend in the global economy—and that new trend may be a gradual descent of America as the clear economic world leader, and a gradual ascent of emerging market economies such as China, India, and Brazil.

In previous generations, working-class Americans were able to invest in retirement accounts each year, and at the end of their careers, if they had a good paying job for most of their adult lives and mastered their finances successfully, they were able to retire with at least $500,000 as a nest egg, and possibly much more.  That option is no longer available for Americans.  The current economic recovery in the United States is proving to be extremely slow, and the Federal Reserve is now saying we will see unemployment remain stubbornly high for several years as the economy exhibits very sluggish growth.

The U.S. has been wounded.  And our recovery is not going so well.  But we are in good company.  Europe is struggling with us.  The western developed world is obviously in a world of hurt.  And this reality is what has possibly caused a “reset” button to be hit.  However, China, India, and Brazil have not been hit as hard as the U.S. and the rest of the West.  In fact, these countries are still expanding and growing at incredible speeds.  Thus, the revelation—each year that the U.S. continues to struggle for economic recovery, China and India are growing exponentially.  So, you have the U.S. moving forward, but very, very slowly, and some would even argue it is moving backwards from a long-term perspective.  And as the U.S. is moving forward very slowly, or even moving backwards, you have China, India, and Brazil moving forward at warp speed.  The question is when will they catch the U.S.?

Go Global with Investing?

Most economists have predicted that China will catch the U.S. by 2030, although it could be sooner.  Today’s Americans do not have the luxury of investing in mutual funds and 401k’s and expecting to get the steady 10%-12% returns over the next 20-30 years that previous generations of Americans did.  The game has changed.  In order to truly build wealth over the next 20-30 years, investors may have to go global.  It may be absolutely necessary to invest in foreign markets such as China, India, and Brazil.  To a new investor that may be a scary thought, so let’s examine how an ordinary investor can take advantage of this explosion in emerging markets.

Foreign Exchange Trading – A Hidden Oppurtunity?

There is an entire industry called managed futures.  Managed futures are hedge funds and other alternative investment funds managed by Commodity Trading Advisors.  This industry is heavily regulated by the National Futures Association (NFA).  Typically, only wealthy clients have been able to invest in managed futures accounts, but many firms are beginning to lower the entry criteria.  Previously, clients were required to have a minimum net worth of $1,000,000 and minimum investments were often at least $100,000.  But today many firms are beginning to allow investors to invest with minimum capital investments of $5000 or even less.

The benefit to investing capital in a managed futures account is that many funds engage in foreign exchange trading or foreign equities.  Both of these investment vehicles will expose your assets to emerging markets and help you take advantage of their incredible current and expected growth prospects.

An interested investor can research exhaustive databases at the NFA and at Barclay’s in order to find a fund that is in line with his or her investment objectives.  Simple research will reveal how a fund has performed throughout its history.  Although managed futures may be a great way to further diversify one’s portfolio, it should be understood that many funds trade on leverage, so it is also risky.

Cesar Zambrano is a writer for ForexFraud.com, a website devoted to educating investors in the subject of frauds and scams. He has been interested in the stock market, investments, and spreading the word about fraudulent activities for much of his life, but has most recently fulfilled this passion by working for ForexFraud.com
Photo Credit: Diego_3336