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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Around the holidays, many of us wish we had saved more money, whether for travel, gifts, or the seasonal demands of car maintenance in the Midwest. Do you want to get a jump start on saving? Jennifer Lough, a vice president and branch manager at Hills Bank, has a few tips that can help.
Every Bit Counts
“Everyone starts somewhere, and you don’t have to start with a large amount of money,” Lough said. “Savings accounts at financial institutions earn interest, so the amount you start with will grow over time.”
Lough recommends checking with your bank to see if they offer special programs to save, like those that round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the difference into a savings account, or those that match your deposit after a period of consistent saving. “The great thing is that, after a while, you don’t even think about the extra charge on your purchases or the transfers that come out,” she said. “But over time, you’ll definitely notice the difference in your savings account.”
This approach can be particularly helpful for parents who are teaching their kids about money. By setting up your child’s first bank account with an automatic savings program, you cannot only help them understand the value of saving but help them build it in real time — and earn interest for the future.
Keep it Regular
“As with any habit, saving is much easier when you can do it regularly without much effort,” Lough said.
One way to do that is to automate your payments. “You can set up a transfer for your payday to move a set amount of money from your checking to savings account. Start small, and build on that amount annually as your income increases,” she said.
Some banks will even offer ways to help you save automatically. “Hills Bank offers a savings solution we call Goals in our online banking platform. Goals lets you set a specific savings target and a date to reach it, and then automatically sets up transfers that are calculated to meet your goal,” Lough said.
Find the Right Account
If you want to open a bank account to save, make sure you consider what you need your savings for. Financial institutions typically offer several types of savings accounts, including a special kind known as a certificate of deposit (CD).
“The money in a savings account is accessible right away if you need it, while a CD earns higher interest — with the trade-off that your funds are locked in for a period of time,” Lough explained. “You would use a CD if you don’t intend to spend those funds right away and want to earn some additional interest on your money without risk.”
Reduce the Odds of Fraud
One unexpected benefit of having a separate savings account for your finances is that it can help you avoid fraud. Since you bring your debit card out to make purchases, the checking account it’s connected to can be potentially vulnerable in cases of theft or scam tactics like ATM skimmers (where fraudsters attach a fake card reader to ATMs to capture card data).
“The majority of fraud that we see is connected to a checking account or debit card,” Lough said. “That’s why I always recommend having a savings account to hold excess funds. It can give you that extra peace of mind knowing your money is safe.”
Learn more at Hillsbank.com/savings.
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