We all weren’t blessed with the patience and self-control required to achieve our savings goals. In comes SmartyPig, the web’s new tool to help you successfully save towards a savings goal. It’s a smart take on the age-old wisdom of using a piggy bank to save money for a rainy day. It can be hard reaching that savings goal each month, and no one wants to make it worse by turning to a credit card, hence this is such an exciting service.
What Smartypig does is force you to put away a certain amount of money each month towards a savings goal. It works, but only if you’re willing to play by their rules. Our guide will outline how to use the innovative tool for achieving your financial goals, SmartyPig.
SmartyPig – Interface and Usage
SmartyPig is two very helpful services in one and they’re both free. It’s an online savings account that’s FDIC insured with a 1% interest rate as well as a savings tool that teaches you how to save. It does this by automatically taking money from of a checking or savings account in your name each month and depositing it into your SmartyPig account.
Some may call SmartyPig borderline “bullyish” since it’s absolutely requires you transfer a minimum of $10.00 into your online savings each month, but if you’ve always had a problem squirreling away money towards your savings goals, SmartyPig may be the solution for you.
To start using SmartyPig, you first need to sign-up for a free account. Click the “Create an Account” link on their main page to get started.
Note: In order to create an account, you’ll need to submit both your Social Security number and your driver’s license/identification card number.
Once you’ve created your account and answered the stringent security questions verifying your identity, you can login to your account and view the “Dashboard” area.
It’s a easy-to-use interface with the navigation options listed in the left column.
When you setup a savings goal, this is how it will appear on your Dashboard.
Create a Savings Goal
Creating a savings goal is typically what you’ll do next after creating your SmartyPig account. Click the “Create a Goal Now” button on the Dashboard to begin setting-up a savings goal. It will bring you to a page where you can set up the particulars of your goal.
On this page you will specify the name for your savings goal, such as “London 2014 Trip.” After that, you’ll input the categories where your goal belongs, your target financial goal (minimum is $50.00, maximum is $250,000), your initial deposit amount, which must be a minimum of $10.00 and will be withdrawn immediately, and the date you’d like to achieve the goal.
SmartyPig will also suggest “cash boosts” with select partners that pertain to your goal. For the “London 2014 Trip” goal for example, SmartyPig suggests to redeem the goal with Orbitz to get “3% off” the fare. Retail partnerships like this abound on SmartyPig, making it one of its top-selling points.
It will also ask you if your funding source – your checking or savings account – is new or existing, how often you’d like to fund your savings goal – monthly, twice a month – and if you’re ok with family and friends, even strangers, donating to your savings goal, with SmartyPig adding your goal to their sharing page.
The “Funding Frequency” option is also smart. Depending on the amount of your goal, the target date and how often you’d like to contribute to your savings goal, SmartyPig will suggest an amount that will actually help you reach your goal by your target date.
Once you’ve completed filling out your goal information, you’ll need to enter your bank account information, including your account number, routing number and your bank’s phone number.
On the confirmation page for your goal, you’ll also have to click the following four boxes. Make sure to read these disclaimers carefully so you’re not surprised when the SmartyPig takes money out of your checking or savings account in the coming months. Note: The annual interest rate for a SmartyPig balance of $50,000 or less is .995%. For over $50,000, it is also .995% currently.
Once you’ve achieved your goal and would like to withdraw your funds from your SmartyPig account, there are multiple ways to receive your funds. You can withdraw the money by having it transferred to a debit card, a checking account or to a SmartyPig gift card. All of these transfer options take at least 3 – 7 days to complete, so keep that in mind when planning on using your money.
You can also sign up for a SmartyPig cash rewards card and receive money towards your saving goal every time you use the card.
One of the most unique aspects of SmartyPig is the social networking options it offers, where you can share your savings goal with family and friends to let them know of your goal and to alert them when you add funds to it, with alerts popping up on Facebook and Twitter. This of course will spur those you know to help contribute to your goal.
To access this area, click the “Sharing” option in the left column. This is where you can turn on or off social sharing and link your account with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedn or any personal URL. You also receive a shareable URL for your savings goal.
SmartyPig definitely has a lot going for it. One of the biggest is that it forces you to save, which for many is a great thing. Cash bonuses with retail partners, as well as social networking to receive encouragement from family and friends round out the top pros.
As for the cons, one of the most obvious, as well as being a pro, is that it forces you to save. If you’re not ready to contribute at least a certain amount each month, the service isn’t for you. It’s also not an ideal savings account if you’re looking to get your money quickly in case of an emergency or the like, since it takes at least three days to access your funds.
Never has such a unique savings tool existed, especially online. Anyone working towards a savings goal should check SmartyPig out. It’s thorough, smart, easy to use and best of all, it’s free.
For more help on improving your finances, check out our post for iPad users – How to Improve Your Finances With MoneyWiz for the iPad