A savings account serves as a straightforward platform for depositing money and earning interest. This uncomplicated financial tool helps individuals to set aside funds gradually. Through this guide, we delve into the basics of savings accounts, exploring their features, benefits, and considerations for those seeking a reliable means to save and grow their money.
How to develop good savings account habits
The best way to create a habit is consistency. This goes for financial habits too. The trick to help develop good savings account habits is to save regularly. You can do this by:
Creating a budget for your regular income and expenses.
Making sure that you set aside money for saving each time you get paid. You can do this by cutting back or eliminating your non-essential expenses.
Arranging for some of your pay to be deposited directly into a special savings account that you don’t touch.
If you don’t follow the simple steps above, but you follow a strategy of saving money that’s left over instead, one of two things is likely to happen:
Limited Savings: Without a systematic approach, you might frequently discover that there’s little to no money left over for saving.
Reduced Savings: Even if there is some money left, the absence of a structured plan may result in suboptimal savings amounts.
Embracing the simplicity and consistency of the recommended steps significantly enhances the likelihood of building strong savings habits. Following these practices fosters a disciplined and sustainable approach to saving money, aligning with your financial goals and aspirations.
How to set savings account goals
Setting goals is the first step in achieving them. You should try and set SMART financial goals. SMART is an acronym for five characteristics.
Specific – Your financial goals should be specific, not vague. For example, a specific amount that you want to save, such as $10,000 or a 20% home deposit.
Measurable – Your financial goals should be measurable. It’s easy to measure progress by monitoring your savings account balance.
Achievable – Your financial goals should be achievable. In other words, they should be realistic. Set a challenging goal by all means, but it should be realistic enough that you are capable of achieving it.
Relevant – Your financial goals should be relevant. In other words, they should enable you to live the life you want to live, buy the things you want to buy, or have the experiences you want.
Time-Bound – Your financial goals should be time-bound. In other words, you should set a deadline for their achievement. For example, save $10,000 by 31 March 2023.
Can savings accounts help you to reach your goals faster?
Yes, thanks to the magic of compound interest. If you have a dedicated savings account and you don’t make withdrawals, you will earn interest on top of the interest you’ve earned, as well as on the amount you save.
It’s also important to look for a savings account with the highest interest rate to help you achieve your financial goals faster. Some savings accounts will pay higher interest rates if you don’t make withdrawals for certain periods or you stay on track to reaching your goal by making the appropriate deposit amounts.
The higher amount of interest available is one of the standout reasons that savings accounts are more helpful in reaching goals than an everyday account. The other reason is your money is held in a different account, so you’ll be less tempted to spend it on everyday transactions.
Can you have joint savings accounts?
Yes, and this can be another strategy to help you to achieve your financial goals faster.
It’s important that you and your savings partner have the same goals and motivations for achieving them, and that you both develop good savings habits.
Whether you’re trying to save a home deposit, buy a car or save up for a holiday, savings accounts are a great way to help you to achieve your financial goals.
Pros and Cons of Savings Accounts
Savings accounts serve as foundational tools in personal finance, offering a secure avenue for individuals to save and earn interest. However, like any financial product, they present both advantages and limitations.
Interest Earnings: Savings accounts provide a reliable means to accrue interest on deposited funds, contributing to the growth of your savings.
Security and Accessibility: With low-risk attributes, savings accounts offer a secure environment for your money and easy access when needed.
Financial Goal Support: Ideal for specific savings goals, these accounts help individuals earmark funds for planned purchases or emergencies.
Ease of Use: Opening and managing a savings account is a straightforward process, often facilitated through online platforms for convenience.
Joint Savings Accounts: Couples or individuals with shared financial goals can benefit from joint savings accounts, fostering collaborative saving.
Lower Interest Rates: While secure, savings accounts often feature lower interest rates compared to other investment options, limiting potential returns — although the risk will likely be lower.
Inflation Impact: Over time, inflation may outpace the interest earned, potentially diminishing the real value of savings.
Limited Transactions: Some savings accounts have transaction limits, and exceeding them may result in fees or account restrictions.
No Debit Card Access: Unlike checking accounts, savings accounts usually lack a debit card, limiting immediate access to funds.
Opportunity Cost: Choosing a savings account means forgoing potentially higher returns from riskier investments, emphasising the trade-off between safety and returns.
Your Savings Account Checklist
Budget Creation: Develop a detailed budget outlining your income and expenses.
Regular Allocation: Consistently allocate a specific portion of your income for savings.
Direct Deposit: Consider setting up direct deposits to channel a portion of your salary directly into your savings account.
Avoid Leftover Money Strategy: Discourage relying on leftover money for savings.