Try a high-tech twist to old-fashioned saving
Remember when people used to save money to buy something they wanted or needed?
That was before credit cards and home equity loans convinced us it was better to buy now, pay later and live beyond our means.
But a website called SmartyPig.com is out to make us all savers again by combining old-fashioned discipline with state-of-the-art technology and social networking.
It sounds easy enough. Say you want to buy a new computer, set up a Christmas fund, get that killer flat-screen TV or save for your wedding.
You open an account, set a saving goal along with the date you want to reach that goal, deposit a minimum of $250 into the account and you're on your way.
SmartyPig will look at your amount and timeline and suggest a monthly automatic withdrawal from your checking or savings account that will satisfy that goal. If you approve, you're in business.
And did we mention the 1.35% APY you'll earn on balances of $50,000 or less? Anyone who knows how dramatically CD rates have fallen knows that's a better than average return in this market.
Your savings are held at BBVA Compass, an FDIC-insured bank that has 720 branches in Texas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Colorado and New Mexico.
A unique feature of SmartyPig is that it allows your account to go "public," which means friends and family can contribute to your savings goal. That gives parents, relatives and friends the opportunity to help you reach your goal faster.
SmartyPig is especially fun for kids, who can be co-owners of an account set up by a parent with view-only access. (You must be 18 or older to open an account.) That way they can watch savings mount for a bike, a puppy or a trip to Disneyland.
Once your goal is reached, you can cash in your account, receiving either a MasterCard debit card or up to a 14% cash boost by placing it on a retail card for one of SmartyPig's many partners like Amazon.com, iTunes, Macy's, Kmart, Kohl's, Best Buy, Home Depot, Babies 'R Us, and Sears and many others.
If you like the idea of buying with self-discipline and paying with cash, you can get more information and terms and conditions by visiting SmartyPig.