If you don’t have much in savings, you’re not alone; a GOBankingRates survey showed that 44% of Americans have $500 of less in their savings accounts. And data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) found that in 2019 as many as 7 million Americans were “unbanked,” meaning they had no banking account of any kind. If you simply haven’t gotten around to opening a savings account, it’s probably time to start thinking about it. While there’s never a bad time to do so, according to financial experts, there are some especially good times when you’ll have a better chance of saving.
According to Brian Rellihan, certified financial planner and senior financial advisor with Wise Wealth Partners, the best time to open a savings account is today. “I am a strong believer that saving and investing is a habit once you get started.”
He said that wealth accumulation has as much to do with the rate you save as it does with the rate of return on any interest or investments. Every day you wait is savings you didn’t accumulate.
In the Summer
There’s never a bad day to begin saving, in truth, and the sooner you do it, the quicker you’ll build up that nest egg. However, as Justin Furniel, investor, banker and financial coach at Push and Profit, said, times have been tough for a lot of people, particularly due to the pandemic and rising inflation.
However, he said, “…There is a certain time of the year where the overall challenge may get a little bit easier to open a new savings account and start saving. And that time is during the summer.”
He reasons that there aren’t any gift-giving holidays at this time, “So essentially you have all summer to start saving without worrying about the next legal gift giving holiday.”
Expenses, in general, tend to go down in summer, as well, except for vacation costs, but you can also avail yourself of more free outdoor activities.
“So, with little planning the summer can really be the best time of the year to open a new savings account and start stashing money away for the future.”
The New Year
Another excellent time to consider opening a savings account, according to investor Richard Latimer, CEO of Veritas Buyers, is during the new year. “Most people have financial resolutions and most involve saving more. Opening an account in January can help with that.”
He does caution that while opening an account to save is a good step, it can be like buying a gym membership. “January may involve many workouts, but February has fewer. Both are necessary first steps. However, saving habits are more consistent than gym habits; after all, no one has to get off their couch to save.”
Before Your Raise Kicks In and Before Your Tax Refund
Brian Walsh, CFP and manager of financial planning at SoFi, suggests that the key moments to open a savings account are before you know you’re going to get extra money coming in from a raise or a tax refund.
Though a raise might seem like a good thing for your finances, Walsh pointed out that it can have a negative effect, too. “If you simply increase your spending, then your standard of living increases making it harder for you to accomplish financial independence. On the other hand, if you save most or all of your raise then it can really accelerate your path to financial independence. If you have a raise coming, consider opening a savings account and directing as much of your raise as possible to that account.”
The same is often true of a tax refund, which can be a big chunk that would be easy to spend. “Getting a refund can be a great opportunity to build your cash cushion,” he said. “If you normally get a refund, rather than spending it, consider opening a savings account for the refund. This can be a painless way to increase your cash cushion and have a buffer between an unexpected event and being in a tough financial position.”
When You See a New Banking Offer or Product
Walsh also recommends taking advantage of new savings account products at banks, which can come with “extremely competitive benefits.”
Keep an Eye Out for the Bonus Trap
Opening a savings account is never a bad thing, but Adam Wood, co-founder of Revenue Geeks, cautions you to be careful of short-term bonuses that expire after the first year. “Many savings institutions provide accounts that promise high returns, but only for a limited time. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a bonus account, but make a note of when the incentive expires and move your money then, or you can wind yourself earning pitiful returns.”
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