It’s hard to remember exactly when I first discovered SmartyPig. And now that it’s become a major part of my financial life, it’s even harder to remember life before SmartyPig. So what is this thing with the funny name and why has it become so important? SmartyPig is an online banking site 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 from their online best-in-class retail partners. All that in a fun, easy to use website that will quickly become one of your favorite daily online stops.
Opening an account on SmartyPig is free and easy. As far as requirements go, SmartyPig tells you what they’ll be asking for before you are knee-deep in the sign-up process. I liked that because I knew up front what information I needed at hand and I could also decide whether I was willing to provide that information before wasting any time filling out any forms. Nice touch. All the detailed steps on this matter have been clearly mentioned at plutuspocket.com.
After opening an account, you’re ready to set up your savings goals. You do have savings goals , don’t you? You should because that’s what separates cash spenders from credit spenders — planning. Well, that and the big bucks. But we’ll get to that in a second. As you can see from my page, I’ve set up a Home Theater goal that I’m thissss close to reaching. Imagine the satisfaction of watching that little piggy bank go from 0% to 89%, knowing that once I hit the big 100% I will have all the purchasing power I need to get that home theater without owing a single penny to a credit card company. That’s icing on the savings cake, and it’s all mine.
The Pain and Pleasure of Saving
Ok, it’s not like all this magic happens without any help from me. After all, I’m the one who’s kicking in all the money to make it work, right? Well, yes and no. As most of us already know, saving money isn’t easy and it’s not much fun, especially in this day of instant gratification. That part still takes fortitude and discipline, but SmartyPig tries to make it a little easier. Each month, on any day you designate, SmartyPig will withdraw an amount you specify from your banking institution of choice. The process is seamless and relatively pain-free since these withdrawals occur automatically behind the scenes. You receive email notification letting you know that the transaction has taken place. You can monitor your goals, contributions, and transaction history at any time and 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 APR and is among the most competitive out there. There’s a page on the site where you can go to see exactly how much interest you are earning every day and you can also see a quarterly total as well.
The second way 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. Don’t worry, these partners are not just boutique retailers or unknown risks from whom most of us wouldn’t be interested in purchasing. Rather, these are names from whom you’ve probably already purchased: 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 accrued.
Reaching A Goal
Congratulations! You did it, you’ve finally reached a financial goal. Now what? Well, 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 (and interest earned) directly into your bank account via ACH transfer. The second option lets you close your goal and place your money into a SmartyPig Debit Card, which can be used at any ATM or anywhere MasterCard is accepted. The last option, and certainly the most lucrative one, is to receive your funds in the form of a retail gift card offered by any one of the SmartyPig retail partners. If you choose this option, you are combining your cash savings, interest accrued, and the financial boost offered by that particular retailer onto a single retailer gift card.
A couple of issues to note when closing a goal and cashing out. First, keep in mind that with either of the first two options above, you do not collect the retail partner cash boost. That’s obvious. But an even larger issue is that if you decide to close your goal and take the boost offered by a retail partner, all money in that goal (including the boost) must be spent with that particular partner only. In other words, you cannot split your money between two or more partners — it’s all in one or nothing. My advice is to set up your savings goals with a specific retailer in mind. That way, when you close the goal you have the money you want for your purchase and can use it — along with the cash boost — exactly where you want it. I have been in contact with SmartyPig and they tell me that they are reviewing their payout options with this issue in mind.
With the economic uncertainty swirling around us, saving is more en vogue than ever. Cash versus credit — it’s common sense, and that never goes out of style. SmartyPig helps take the drudgery out of saving your money and keeps you from falling into the credit trap. SmartyPig lets you share your goals with other like-minded savers, and it’s great to know that there’s an extra little pot-of-gold waiting for you at the end of your savings journey. Check it out, set up an account, add me as a friend, and start saving your hard-earned pennies with SmartyPig.