Saturday, March 5, 2011

START Saving at USBank

I've been a USBank customer since about the tender age of...oh, eleven or so. This weekend I opened up a S.T.A.R.T. savings account, and if you're looking for a hassle free way to get started on a small emergency fund and earn a little extra in the process, this is a great way to do it.

You need to have a banking package with USBank to qualify. I have a Silver Banking Package meaning I have a no fee checking account and have now added a no fee money market account. If you don't already have an account through USBank, you can open a checking account with a minimum $50 deposit. There are no fees, and no minimum balance requirements.

The S.T.A.R.T. program is very simple. Add a money market account to your banking package and set up automatic deposits from your checking account. Once your balance reaches $1000, you get a $50 Rewards Card. I've set up twice monthly transfers of $250 so that I can reach that $1000 as quickly as possible. If you maintain a balance of at least a $1000 for a year, you receive another $50 Rewards Card.

That's a 10% return over a year plus however long it takes you to reach $1000.

Say you're just getting started saving, and don't think you can afford to put much away. Don't put it off! Start paying yourself first now, even if it's only a little bit. If you keep putting it off until you think you can afford it, you might never start saving. It takes time to form a habit, so getting into the habit of saving now - even if it's just a little bit - puts you in a better position for the future.

Think you can spare $50 from each paycheck? Setting up a $50 transfer twice a month will get you to that $1000 level in ten months. After ten months, you'll get a $50 Rewards Card, or a 5% return. That's better than you'll get in any CD or high yield savings account right now! Save that money (you can keep adding to it!) for another year, and you'll earn another 5% on your money.

I like getting cash rewards, but I'll take a Rewards Card. I can always pay a monthly expense with the card, and put the $50 extra cash I'd have into savings.

USBank is known for being conservative, approving only the best borrowers for loans and credit cards at really low rates, but also offering very conservative rates (i.e. low) on their savings and checking accounts. Once you've maximized your rewards from the S.T.A.R.T. program, I recommend looking into moving your money to a higher yielding account like Ally Bank, ING Direct or SmartyPig.

Think you can't get started with even a little every month? Sign up for a pay-per-action site like FusionCash. I easily earn around $25 a month without exerting much effort using FusionCash. With a little extra effort, you could easily make that $50 a month and turn that into $600 savings a year. Get started, even with baby steps!

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