As we celebrate International Credit Union Week it feels appropriate to talk about savings, one of the services for which credit unions are best known.  True, credit unions now offer a robust line of business and consumer loans and a variety of supplemental financial services, from insurance to warranties. But, for an American population that has, over the past decade, strayed from savings, the personalized service for which credit unions are known can be a big plus.

Any number of national studies indicate that even seemingly financially savvy Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, for a rainy day, or for college – though, the tide may be changing.  America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, reports a renewed interest among Americans in saving as compared to earlier in the year.  In the wake of one of the most difficult recessions our country has seen, it is encouraging to see and hear that Americans’ desire and ability to save is on the rise, even if their follow-through still needs a little work.  

While there is no “secret sauce” to savings success, there is one common denominator for successful savers.  America Saves reports 70 percent of consumers who save use an automated saving system, which is one of the most efficient and successful ways to save money.  A separate America Saves survey indicates a large majority, 64 percent of Americans, keep savings accounts at credit unions or traditional banks, while a small percentage of savers still keep their money in a “safe place” at home.  

When it comes to

saving, there are plenty

of options

IRAs: Traditional, Roth and Employer Sponsored Retirement Plan Rollovers provide varying options for contributions and withdrawals, as well different tax benefits and implications to consider. There are several factors that come into play, and an appropriate financial professional can help steer an accountholder to the best choice for his or her unique situation.  

Share certificates: This option typically offers a better rate than traditional savings accounts in exchange for a pre-specified time investment. Dividends will depend on balance and terms. Minimum opening deposit requirements vary across financial institutions. 

Money Markets 

accounts

 These accounts generally require a lower minimum opening balance, while rewarding savers with higher dividends for larger account balances.  These accounts offer immediate access to funds and faster growth potential due to generally higher interest rates.

Savings accounts: Traditional savings accounts keep things simple, and are a great way to start. Many financial institutions also allow a savings account to double as a source for overdraft protection. 

If you are among the growing number of Americans with the newfound desire and ability to save there’s no time like the present. Selecting the appropriate savings strategy is a personal decision, and there is much to consider from one individual to the next.  The commonality that just about everyone can agree on, is that those who start saving at any point in life, will most certainly be glad they did.

 

 (Editor’s Note: Rene Almazan is a senior vice president for Vantage West Credit Union, a $1.3 billion financial institution in Arizona, which serves a growing membership of 130,000 via 17 branches and online channels. Vantage West offers consumer and business loans, credit cards, deposit products, as well as retirement accounts and other financial services. 

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