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Save Money and Make It Fun with SmartyPig

March 26th, 2010

smartypig-review-logo.jpgSmartyPig is an online piggy bank dedicated to making purchases on credit a thing of the past. It allows you to set up savings goals, earn interest, interact with other members of the site, and even earn an extra cash “boost” when you purchase products from their online retail partners. SmartyPig is fun to use and helps take the sting out of those credit card interest payments that too often stick around long after the joy of the purchases has faded.

Getting Started

Opening an account on SmartyPig is free and easy. They list up front all of the information you’ll need to open an account, which is nice because it gives you the chance to gather the information as well as to decide if it’s information you’re willing to share. Nice touch.

After opening an account, you’re ready to set up savings goals. You do have savings goals, don’t you? You should, because that’s what separates the cash buyers from the credit buyers: planning. Well, plans and the real bucks to help you realize those goals. Once you’ve set up your spending goals, you can choose to display them privately, so that only you can view them, or publically so that your family and friends can watch – and even participate – in your savings journey.

For each goal, you get a little piggy bank icon that displays a percentage of money saved toward the full amount. It’s both fun and motivational watching that piggy bank swell from 0% to 100% with each contribution. And the icing on the savings cake is knowing that your money – as well as your eventual purchase – is all yours, with no credit card tentacles fishing your wallet.

The Pain and Pleasure of Saving

Ok, it’s not like all this magic happens without any effort on your part. After all, someone has to put up the goods to make this system work, right? Well, yes and no. As most of us already know, saving money isn’t easy and it usually isn’t much fun, especially in this day of instant gratification. That part of the process still takes work, though SmartyPig tries to make it a little easier.

Each month, on any day you designate, SmartyPig will withdraw an amount you specify from the banking institution of your choice. So if you’ve got a bank account somewhere that is physically holding your hard-earned dollars, whether online or brick and mortar, you’re good to go. As long as you have sufficient funds to meet the monthly deposit goal, the transfer is seamless and pain-free, since the withdrawals occur automatically behind the scenes. If you don’t have sufficient funds at the time of withdrawal, you will NOT be penalized; rather, your monthly contribution will simply resume the following month. SmartyPig will send you email notification regarding your transactions depending on how you set up your notification preferences. You can monitor your goals, contributions, transaction history, and interest earned any time you’d like as well as make whatever changes you deem necessary.

While saving will never be as fun as spending, SmartyPig helps take the sting out of the process in a couple of very big ways. First, because SmartyPig is an FDIC insured savings account, your money grows through the magic of compound interest to the tune of 3.9%. That is a fantastic APY and is among the most competitive out there.

The second way that SmartyPig helps take the pain out of saving is by providing retail partner financial boosts. These are cash incentives (percentages of your total goal amount) provided by best-in-class retailers who have chosen to partner with SmartyPig, sites like Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Macy’s, and many others. The list continues to grow – and so do the cash boosts! Recently, Overstock.com joined the SmartyPig retail partner family and is currently offering a whopping 6% boost. That’s free money, people, on top of the interest you’ve already accrued.

Reaching a Goal

Congratulations! You did it. Now that you’ve finally reached that financial goal it’s time to cash in, and you’ll be glad to know that you’ve got options when it comes to getting your money, interest, and cash boost.

First, SmartyPig gives you the option to close a goal and receive your money (as well as interest earned) directly into your bank account via ACH transfer. There are no cash-out or transfer fees incurred; your money is all yours.

The second option lets you close your goal and receive all earnings into a SmartyPig Debit Card, which can be used at any ATM or anywhere MasterCard is accepted. This might be a nice option for those of us who simply cannot stomach the idea of handing over cold hard cash at purchase time.

The last option, and certainly the most lucrative, is to receive your funds in the form of a retail gift card offered by one of SmartyPig’s retail partners. Choosing this option combines your cash earnings, accrued interest, and the retail partner financial boost onto a single gift card. Obviously, this option provides the most cash back to you albeit with the caveat that you must spend your earnings with that particular retailer. At the time of this writing, SmartyPig does not allow you to split your earnings among retail partners, though I have been in touch with one of the founders of SmartyPig and he tells me that they are looking into future payout options with this issue in mind.

Conclusion

With the economic uncertainty swirling around us, saving is more in vogue than ever. Cash versus credit; common sense savings never goes out of style. SmartyPig helps take the drudgery out of saving and keeps you from falling prey to the credit monster. Set up a free account, create your savings goals, and change your financial habits for the better with SmartyPig.


This article was supplied by Keith D. Grimes from Constant Content.


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