17 September 2008

Smart savings plan

Check this out! My pals over at Consumerist ran this story and link last week. I'd never heard of such a thing before. The thing I'd never heard of before is a website called Smarty Pig. I am a huge fan of online savings accounts. I've been a loyal account holder at Ing Direct for a while now and I cannot endorse the practice of regular, planned savings loudly enough.

Last year, I took what ended up being the most expensive vacation I'd ever taken in my life. About a year before I left, I opened a new savings account with Ing that was dedicated to this vacation. I squirreled away small sums of money regularly and repeatedly and before I knew it, I was able to pay cash for that vacation. For a lot of people, the idea of goal-oriented savings was covered in adulthood 101. Well, I must have slept through that class or something because I figured it out on my own in my 40s. Better late than never though. Right?

As fond as I am of Ing Direct, Smarty Pig takes the idea of a goal-oriented savings plan and improves it by an order of magnitude or two. Smarty Pig pays 3.9 percent interest for starters, that's nearly a point higher than what I'[m getting from Ing. But that's not where the differences end. When you join Smarty Pig, you set up an account for a specific goal. Whether it's for a vacation, a new TV, or a kitchen renovation. Once you set that goal, your savings are locked away where you can't get at them until you reach that goal.

If you're new to savings (looking at the average debt load of most Americans, that's just about everybody), one of the hardest things to do is keep your hands off your money once it starts to accumulate. By locking it away, Smarty Pig removes the temptation.

Smarty Pig also gives you the option to make your savings goals public so that your friends and family can watch your progress. It defeats the purpose of learning how to save money, but those same friends and family can also contribute toward your goal.

So, if you're not a saver but know you should be, check out Smarty Pig. It's a great tool to learn how to save money and that 3.9 percent interest rate cannot be beat.

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