Whether you are trying to save money for an emergency fund or to pay off a credit card, the story is still the same: it’s a process that takes time and may sometimes seems impossible. All of us set financial goals and there are many different ways to work to achieve those goals such as, opening a savings account through your bank or hiding a stash in your home. But what is the best way to set a financial goal, start saving, and continue that process?
I personally started to use SmartyPig to save money and I have seen a tremendous change in my saving habits. I have never been good at saving cash because I have easy access to it and usually end up spending it on things I don’t need. And unlike my savings account through my bank, I can’t transfer funds between my savings and checking account each time I go to an ATM or sign-in to my account online. SmartyPig is separate from my other funds, which makes a huge difference. Half of the time, I forget that I even have funds in a savings account online because I don’t check it daily, as I do my checking account.
So what is SmartyPig?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with SmartyPig, it is a free FDIC-insured savings account online that strives to help people set financial goals and really stick to them. There are absolutely no fees (not even to withdraw your funds), its very easy to use, its safe, and it offers many rewards such as, a high-interest rate on your funds and a cash back rewards program to which you can enroll. There is also a SmartyPig Mobile App available for iPhone users, so that makes it easy for people to manage their account while on-the-go. Here is a basic overview of what you can do once you sign-up for an account with SmartyPig.
How SmartyPig Works
Once you sign up for a SmartyPig account, you start creating specific financial goals and set up automated transfers from a valid checking account. You can set specific dates for when you want to achieve your goal and can track the progress of each goal. You earn a high competitive interest rate of 1.35% and everything is absolutely free. There are no fees to sign up, no fees to transfer money, and no fees to withdraw your funds. Once you have reached your goal and you are ready to collect your funds you can choose to add the funds to various gift cards, the SmartyPig Rewards Card, or can have it transferred into your bank account. SmartyPig helps create good financial habits, while making managing money an easy, rewarding experience for everyone.
Creating Savings Goals
Setting up a financial goal with SmartyPig is very easy. You can set up multiple goals and SmartyPig will automatically track the progress of each individual goal. To set up a goal, you simply log-in to your account, click on “add a new goal”, verify what it is that you are saving for, then choose the category that your goal falls under (ex. Car, emergency fund, etc.). You will then indicate the financial goal amount and choose the date you want to have your goal completed by. An initial deposit of $25 is required to start a goal. Once you have provided the details of your goal you will choose an existing funding source or add a new funding source to set up transfers for your goal. Then you can choose whether you want recurring or one-time deposits. When you log-in to your SmartyPig account the dashboard will display an overview of each of the goals you have set up. You are able to edit your goals anytime you need to.
Adding Money to Your Goal(s)
In order to add money to a goal you must set up a funding source. To set up a funding source you will need a valid bank account. You will have to enter the bank’s name, phone number, your bank account number and the routing number for your account. Once you have confirmed all of your information, your funding source will be stored in your SmartyPig account for later use. You can choose to transfer money to your goal when it is convenient for you or you can set up a recurring transfer. If you choose to transfer funds when it is convenient, then you will manually have to add money to your goal by signing in to your account and clicking on “manage“ next to the goal you wish to add funds to. However, you can have funds automatically transferred to your SmartyPig goal on a monthly, twice monthly, or every 14 day basis and this is set up when you first create your goal.
Reach Your Goals Faster
You can elect to share your goals with friends and family on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and can accept both moral and financial support from them. You can choose which goals you want to display on these sites and adjust the settings depending on the information you want to share. You can tell others what you are saving for, the amount you have saved, or just the percentage of progress you have made towards a go. Getting friends and family involved really has an impact on the progress of your goals.
Cash Back Savings and Rewards Card
Once you have reached a goal and you are ready to collect your funds, there are different ways you can go about doing this. First, you can have your funds transferred into your banking account. SmartyPig does not charge you anything to do this. The second way you can receive your funds is by transferring a portion or all of your savings to a retail card that SmartyPig offers, such as Best Buy, Macy’s, Amazon, etc. If you choose this option, you will get up to 14% back in savings. So if you were saving for a TV, this may be the best way to redeem your funds because you will save extra money! The last way you can receive your savings is by transferring them to your SmartyPig Cash Rewards Prepaid Mastercard. This card works just like a debit card and offers various cash rewards so you can get more from your savings.
The SmartyPig philosophy is the smartest way to purchase things is with the money you already have. SmartyPig helps you replace the “buy-now-pay-later” approach with a “save-then-spend” mentality. Instead of being charged a high-interest rate by your credit card company after you buy something, why not be paid high interest and get cash back for simply saving up for it first? SmartyPig offers a 1.75% APY which is one of the most competitive interest rates in the country. You can also get cash back on your purchases by using your SmartyPig Cash Rewards Card for your purchases and receive up to 10% cash back at more than 9,000 retailers. There are basically four different steps to setting up and using a SmartyPig account which are highlighted below:
- Signing Up For A SmartyPig Account: Signing up for an account is fast and easy. You will be asked for your basic contact information as well as your social security number and security questions. Once you have completed the sign-up process you then set your savings goals. Again, this can be anything you want like an emergency fund, a new card, a down payment on a house, or a flat screen T.V.
- Savings Goals: Your savings goals is an important step in the process because in order to participate in SmartyPig, you must set a savings goal and contribute towards that goal once a month. Now you can decide at anytime to change your goal or your contribution amount, but you have to establish a goal. The idea here is that you will be saving towards your future goals, however, there is no penalty if you can’t make your automatic deposits.
- Get Friends & Family Involved: A cool feature is that in addition to you saving your own money, you can also have your friends and family help you reach your goals. If you have a friend or family member that also has a SmartyPig account they can simply transfer fund into your account for free. Another option is add funds with the use of a debit or credit card and for that there is a 2.9% fee charged to the sender.
- Once You Meet Your Goal: Once you have met your savings goal, you can withdraw your funds. SmartyPig offers you three different ways to withdraw your money. First you can have the funds transferred back to your bank account that you were making deposits from. Another option is to have your fund deposited onto a SmartyPig Prepaid MasterCard. This card of course can be used everywhere MasterCard debit is accepted. Finally you can cash your savings in for gift cards from premium merchants who have partnered with SmartyPig. With the last option, you not only receive gift cards, but you will get a higher dollar amount on the gift card than what you spend from your savings, depending on the merchant.
You Can Save With Gift Cards
Another way SmartyPig might help you is if you are planning on making a big purchases in the future. You could open up a SmartyPig online savings account and cash in your savings for a gift card to the merchant where you plan on making that big purchase. You can save some money by doing this because there are over 9,000 merchants that will throw in additional money towards your gift card. For example, check out the table below that list some of those merchants and look at the corresponding amount they will add to your gift card.