Browsing Category: Banking

ableBanking -> Save more. Give more.

ableBanking review

If you’re looking for a banking option that allows you to get higher interest rates and do some good in the community, then you should check out ableBanking.

ableBanking is now Open to All ableBanking review

In case you haven’t heard of them, ableBanking is an online banking division of Northeast Bank, a community bank based in Maine and founded in 1872. While you needed and invite code to join them before, they just announced this week that the accounts are open to everyone.

That’s great news as another option has become available for savers looking to earn a bit on their stockpile. As an added bonus, ableBanking allows depositors to give back to their charitable causes.

Save More

Like other online banks, ableBanking takes the money it saves from not having brick and mortar banks directs that towards having higher interest rates than traditional banks. Currently the rates the offer are:

  • Money Market Savings: .85%
  • 6 Month CD: .80%
  • 1 Year CD: 1.00%
  • 2 year CD: 1.15%
  • 3 Year CD: 1.30%
  • 4 Year CD: 1.50%

money market rates able banking

It should also be mentioned that there are no monthly maintenance fees – that means your money stays yours.

Giving More

A unique feature that ableBanking loves to highlight (and rightly so in my opinion) is that along with saving more, it helps its customers to give to causes close to their hearts. They give money to any 501c3 charity that you choose.

When you sign up to be an ableBanking customer, you get a $25 bonus for giving and every year on your ableAnniversary, you have .25% of your average balance can be distributed to your charity. It’s a win-win.

Want to Join?

If you’re looking to open an account, you can sign up for one online or on the phone (1-888-I AM-ABLE). While you don’t need a brick and mortar bank to open the account you do need another bank or credit union to fund your savings.

There is a $1,000 minimum deposit requirement for the money market account and a $500 minimum deposit requirement for the Certificate of Deposit accounts. ableBanking is focusing on serving customers instrested in growing their money and their communities, so the minimum balance is kind of a determent for rate chasers.

Enrollment is fairly straightforward. Besides entering your personal data including your Social Security Number, ableBanking verifies your identification with a questionnaire pulled from public records.

Customers then will get an email regarding a micro-depsoit between their funding bank and their ableBanking account. Once confirmed, the account is opened and the rest of the transfer is completed.

Within 48 hours they should receive their ableDollars that can be used for charities.

Thoughts ableBanking

I’d love to hear from you about banks. What you want from your bank? Do you think you’d sign up for ableBanking?

Where Should I Put My Emergency Fund Savings?

savings emergency fund

The NY Times shared some results of a study released by the University of Michigan about families and their savings:savings emergency fund

New research from the University of Michigan finds that while the average savings rate has grown since 2008, the proportion of families who say they have no savings also has grown over the last two years.

In 2011, the report said, 23 percent of families said they had no liquid assets, like savings or checking accounts or certificates of deposit, compared with 19 percent in 2009.

Having an emergency fund can not only be a financially smart move, it can also give you some peace of mind. For those looking to building their savings, finding the right place is a difficult choice. With some many options, they may have a hard time finding the right one for them.

Online Banking Vs Brick and Mortar Banks and Credit Unions

For myself, I’ve found many online banks, such as Capital 360 and Ally offer better rates than many traditional brick and mortar banks. We’ve used online banking and found their customer service to be quite good. I have some relatives, on the other hand, that prefer going into a branch for their banking needs. My mother uses a credit union for her savings and has had great service from them.

I don’t think it’s a big deal where you bank as long as they have what you need for your savings.

What Your Emergency Fund Account Needs

With an emergency fund you need to focus on 3 things:

  • Easy access to it in case of emergency – It does you no good to have a high interest rate if you can’t get to it quickly when it’s most needed.
  • Safe place to store you money – Whatever you choose, make sure it’s either covered by the FDIC (banks) or NCUA (credit unions).
  • A place where it can grow – If you can earn a decent interest rate for your savings while meeting the two previous criteria, then go for it.

If your bank or credit union provides the above, then you should be fine. Don’t get hung up on chasing rates.

Thoughts on Where to Stash Your Savings

I’d like to hear from you about how you handle your finances. Do you prefer online banking for your savings or do you like a physical branch to save? Do you keep your money into certificates of deposits or another type of account?

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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?