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SmartyPig Helps You Set and Achieve Specific Savings Goals

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Before I knew SmartyPig existed, I asked my local bank if I could set up multiple savings accounts with different names (or at least numbers) on them. They said it wasn’t possible. So, I just kept saving my money in one lump sum. This always posed a problem, though. I never knew what the cash was for specifically. If I withdrew money for one goal, I always felt like I was taking it away from another. It wasn’t until two years later, frustrated by the same feeling, that I finally found the answer: SmartyPig.

SmartyPig logo

Now, bear with me because I am a bit of a fan girl, but here are the reasons I trust my savings with them.

1. Competitive Interest Rate

SmartyPig is specifically an online high yield savings account. Its interest rate, at 1%, is one of the highest in the country when it comes to high yield savings. Plus, there are no fees or sneaky tactics. You just link your bank account, deposit money regularly, and watch your savings grow.

2. Separate Savings Goals

Like I said, I thrive on creating multiple savings goals at once. For example, right now I’m saving for my husband’s second medical school licensing exam, which costs $2,500. I’m also saving for my husband’s residency applications and associated transportation costs, which caSmarty Pig tshirtn cost up to $10,000. In addition, I keep my emergency fund and general savings fund in SmartyPig. In the past, I’ve used SmartyPig to save for vacations, my $10,000 baby fund, and even my Macbook Pro. In fact, my computer was one of the very first large purchases I ever made where I was able to pay completely upfront. I was so excited I even wore a SmartyPig t-shirt when I went to buy it. True story. In sum, using their service taught me the value of saving for something before I buy it.

3. The Social Factor

Like any good blogger, I am obsessed with social media. I love that SmartyPig allows users to share their progress and goals with their social networks. You can share actual numbers or just percentages. You can even ask for donations. I especially like sharing when a goal is complete.

4. Motivational Design

Even though it might seem silly, I like that SmartyPig helps me track all of this progress with a cute little piggy bank icon. There’s just something satisfying about growing that little pig until it says 100%. The design is set up so that it’s inviting. It makes you want to succeed. It’s so much more than just logging into your old, boring bank account. The design is in place so that it gets you excited to save, and it works.

smartypig savings goal

5. Mobile Friendly

SmartyPig is also very mobile friendly. You can download their app, which is both iOS and Android compatible. This is a great way to deposit funds and view you progress on the go.

Fine Print

SmartyPig is FDIC insured like any other bank and deposited with BBVA Compass. You can deposit amounts into your goals up to $250,000. You have to have $50 to start an account. You can’t deposit more than $50,000 at a time.

The Negatives

Although SmartyPig is very user friendly, there are some aspects of the service that I do not like. For one, you cannot do a partial withdrawal. If you want to take out only $100 from your emergency fund, you can’t do it. You will have to close the whole goal or transfer some of the money to another goal and close that out, which is what I do. This is a little irritating when all you want is just a little padding.

SmartyPig Retail GiftcardsSmartyPig is also known for giving some great perks when it comes to retailer gift cards. For example, if you’ve been saving for a new wardrobe from Banana Republic you can put your money on a Banana Republic gift card and get a 10% cash boost instead of putting the money back in your bank account. While this is great in theory, I personally get annoyed that the advertisements for these cash boost retailers are all over the site.

When I’m trying to save for something really important, like my husband’s licensing exam, the advertisements to spend the money on more fun things are distracting. When you close out a goal, you also have to go through a few windows that showcase these cash boost opportunities, which again can detract from the main purpose of saving.

Overall, though, I’ve had great success with SmartyPig and have had several friends and family members sign up for it on my recommendation. I’ve never had an issue with their service. My cash has always left my account on time, and when I close a goal, I’ve always received my money in a few days. While I’m not sold on every aspect of the service, I do believe that their methods have encouraged me and helped me save for some of my biggest goals in life thus far.

If you have any further questions about the mechanics of SmartyPig, their FAQ page is very thorough.

Check out all the high interest rate savings account options on our comparison table.

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Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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The Downsides of Having Joint Bank Accounts

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Joint Banking

Although I am a big supporter of having joint accounts with your spouse, I won’t deny there are downsides. Currently, my husband and I use Charles Schwab for most of our banking and investment needs.

We opened that account when we moved out of the country because Charles Schwab charges no foreign transaction fees and refunds all ATM fees. They also have excellent customer service and were able to help me with getting my paycheck deposited and a laundry list of other issues as we tried to navigate the tricky waters of international banking.

Although joint bank accounts inspire teamwork and openness in marriage, my husband and I definitely had some tense moments over the last five years of banking together. 

1. Analyzing Each Other’s Purchases

One of the most common reasons men and women want their own bank accounts in a marriage is because they want the autonomy to spend as they please. Early in our marriage, before we had regular money dates or discussed our financial goals, I frequently went through our online accounts pointing to various charges and asking my husband why he made them. After several months of this, he was scared to make a purchase at all, not knowing if I’d point it out or not. Over the years, we’ve remedied this problem by having our own cash spending money and also starting a rule that you only have to ask the other one about a purchase if it’s over $50.00. That way, I overlook all the little Starbucks charges and he overlooks all the small updates I make to my business.

So, depending on your upbringing or the personality of your spouse, having this oversight can be difficult on a marriage, which is one of the reasons I’m counting it as a downside of having joint accounts.

2. Difficulty in Gift Giving

A week before Mother’s Day this year, my husband told me to look out for any packages addressed to him. He didn’t want me to see the return address because it was a Mother’s Day present. I asked, “Is it from an Etsy seller?” and he was so disappointed.

Technology and our joint banking accounts ruined a little of his surprise. My Mint App (one of many financial tools I use) already told me he spent money at Etsy. I assured him that Etsy was a pretty big range and that I wasn’t disappointed at all, but it was more about the principle of the matter.

This has happened several times in our relationship, to the point where we tell the other one around Christmas time to not look at our account for a few days, which isn’t good either. Many people have suggested that we simply buy gifts with cash, and although that works at times, we both prefer the convenience of online shopping.

3. All Your Eggs in One Basket

In 2005 my family’s life completely changed after Hurricane Katrina blew its way through our town. It was so hectic after the storm. Banks were closed, ATMs weren’t working, and it was difficult to do anything that required using local banks. Everything was underwater. My mom was able to call an open branch of her bank and stop the large check she just wrote for my student housing expenses at my college (which was by then totally closed because of the storm.) I remember how stressed they both were.

Having a joint checking account and putting all your eggs in one basket can be detrimental in an emergency or if your bank has a breech or some other security issue. Spreading out your accounts and your money in different banks and different accounts provides a layer of security that you can’t get with just having one main joint account.

My husband and I feel comfortable banking with Schwab because it’s such a large company but for an extra layer of security, we do have separate accounts in Smarty Pig, an online high yield savings account, which does not allow joint accounts. So, if you do like having joint accounts, you should know that some banks are better about allowing joint accounts than others.

It’s All About Communication

Really, when it comes to joining finances with your spouse (or not), it all comes down to communication and trust. I know many couples that are happily married with joint accounts because they have to work together on all of their money decisions. I also know other couples that are equally as happy with their separate accounts because they trust each other to make wise financial choices and feel like they have a sense of independence.

Whichever path you choose, just remember to have regular financial check-ins to see the status of your combined net worth so you know how far you have to go before you can reach financial goals and ultimately retire.

Find the best accounts for your joint banking needs by using our comparison table. 

Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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Life Events

How to Break Even on Baby Purchases

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Baby purchases_lg

When you have a child, there are so many supplies to buy. In the very early days of having my twins, I remember making an Amazon order for $400, and I’m not even sure what was in it at this point. I do know my husband and I have been very selective about our purchases for our children, avoiding products that many people consider staples like bassinets and baby swings.

Still, the costs add up no matter how frugal or minimalist you are. Luckily, there are ways to break even on baby purchases or to recoup almost all the cost you put into them. This is especially true if your baby gear is for a first baby, since many, many people gift you baby products at your baby showers.

Here’s how to do it:

Sell on Craigslist

There is definitely an art to selling on Craigslist. You have to consider many factors like season, price, the quality of the product, and location. Here are some tips.

  1. Take excellent pictures. You want to make sure to photograph your product in full, natural light against a blank wall or outside if it makes more sense. You don’t need an expensive camera. Just put a little thought into your space. For example, don’t post a high chair with food all over it. Try to make your items look as new as possible. The same goes for your product description. Put a little effort into it for the best returns.
  2. Price it well. I know you’re trying to make money from your purchase but many people are trying to make a deal. For example, I just sold my twins’ infant car seats on Craigslist. They were $180 each but they were also both gifts from my baby shower. Even though I know they were worth far more than $150 for both because my twins only used them for a few months, I sold them for that because it was pure profit.
  3. Be safe. There are many horror stories about Craigslist, so it’s best to be safe. Meet someone in a neutral location, like a parking lot during the day, never at their home. If you do have to go to someone’s home, make sure to bring 1-2 people with you and let another know where you’re going to be.

Sell on eBay

My friend makes a living getting free or used baby clothes at garage sales and selling them for profit on eBay. Because she is able to get such great deals on the clothes to begin with, she always breaks even or makes a profit.

What many new parents don’t realize is that nice baby clothes don’t get dirty. Unless your kids have a bad accident or have a bad case of reflux, their clothes remain pristine. Babies don’t exactly run outside and play in the dirt like toddlers do. They also grow so fast they only wear nice clothes once or maybe twice. I have dresses people gave my daughter that she never wore. By the time an occasion came up where she could wear it, she outgrew it. So, these are the types of clothes that sell really well on eBay, as opposed to onesies you used every day.

An eBay Case Study:

I used cloth diapers for my twins, and I was able to sell their newborn diapers for the exact same price I paid for them. The reason is that there is such a high demand for the nicer brands of cloth diapers. The diapers are usually $13 each. I purchased mine second hand from a diaper service for $8 each. I took excellent care of them, and similar to my tips for selling on Craigslist, I took really good pictures of them and gave good, honest descriptions, including the fact that they were purchased second hand. When the bidding was done, to my surprise they sold for $8 each again, meaning I essentially paid nothing for my twins’ newborn sized diapers for the first few weeks of their lives since I broke even on the costs.

Saving Your Cash

There are many other options for recouping your baby costs, but those are the two companies I used personally. Many moms like to go to clothing swaps or sales geared specifically for babies. I am on a Facebook clothing sale group just for people with boy/girl twins. So, the possibilities are really endless.

What’s really important is that you save the money you make when you break even or profit from your baby gear. I like to use Smarty Pig to store my extra cash. Smarty Pig is a high interest savings account that currently earns 0.75%, which is much better than typical savings accounts you have with your bank. I constantly have a baby fund going since they grow so fast and always need new products that I hope to break even on later.

Don’t miss: 5 Things Every New Mom Needs to Learn About Money

Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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Pay Down My Debt

In Debt and Pregnant. Now What?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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I got pregnant when my husband and I were nearly $300,000 in debt.

Although it sounds crazy, I did it on purpose (both accumulating debt and getting pregnant that is.)

I wish I could say I had a super fancy Bentley parked in my driveway to have something to show for that high number, but really it’s all in our brains (which have lately been fried due to intense sleep deprivation.) To clarify, what I mean to say is all of our debt is student loan debt.

Sometimes people will say that education debt is “good debt,” and if that’s the case then we have really, really good debt. Our $300,000 student loan debt includes two master’s degrees – one for each of us – and three years of my husband’s medical school tuition. Unfortunately for us, we’ll probably be tacking on another $50,000 to it before he graduates from medical school in 2016, bringing the total number up to $350,000 and possibly even $400,000 since it’s actively accruing interest (fun right?)

Of course, my husband and I don’t actually believe that student loan debt is good debt. For most people, student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy (although according to U.S. News, in rare cases it actually can.) So, that means most people will have to pay back every penny of their student loans even if they encounter significant hardships. Basically, not only is our $300,000 of student loan debt burdensome, it’s downright scary.

Yet, being in debt didn’t stop me from actively trying to get pregnant, and it shouldn’t stop you if you have the three traits below.

1. Financial Discipline

Even if you have significant debt, I believe it’s fine to make big life choices like buying a house or having a child as long as you have financial discipline. You need to be the type of person who is acutely aware of their debt, not someone who is too scared to look at the number. If you can face your debt head on and have the ability to stick to a detailed financial plan, you can definitely make room for some of life’s biggest changes liking bringing adorable, stinky babies into the world.

Financially disciplined people track spending, create budgets, understand their cash flow, and do not live paycheck to paycheck. Their student loan payments are just another line on their budget that they carefully pay attention to and try to tackle each and every month.

For some people, like Kirsten at Indebted Mom, biology plays a factor into the decision to have children as well. Although Kirsten has significant student loan debt like I do, she was not willing to risk the possibility of not being able to have children due to her age. “It would have been nice to pay off debt first, but if we’d waited to pay off all our student loans, I probably wouldn’t have been able to have children,” says Kirsten. In order to tackle her high student debt, Kirsten remains employed as an aerospace engineer and makes extra money on the side through online writing jobs.

2. Extreme Hustle

When my husband and I decided we wanted to start our family, we knew that we needed to create a large savings account for our baby. Between hospital costs, baby gear, and other necessities, we knew babies were expensive. Thinking of a worst case scenario where would have to reach our $4,000 out of pocket max for our health insurance policy, we decided to save $10,000, which would hopefully leave some money left over to start a college fund.

Of course, with my husband being a student, the only real way to create $10,000 out of thin air was for me to hustle. I was already bringing in extra money from online writing jobs, but I decided to double my efforts. I took on new clients, e-mailed people tirelessly asking if they had work, and spent many, many nights staying up until one or two o’clock in the morning doing extra work. Every time I got a PayPal deposit from one of my new clients, I moved it right over to my Smarty Pig high yield savings account for our future baby.

[You can see the latest high rate savings account deals here]

Of course, the joke was on us. I got pregnant just a few months later, and much to our surprise, we found out we were having twins. We used every penny of that $10,000 savings since both of our children spent time in the NICU. I was so glad I had that savings account; otherwise, we would probably be in credit card debt right now too.

Of course, if you are in debt, there is the obvious option to wait to have children or not have children at all. Many people, like Kali Hawlk of Common Sense Millennial, decided not to have children, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in child rearing expenses over the course of two decades. This is certainly something to consider if you are in significant debt and are not equipped with the income or the tools to successfully handle paying off your debt and raising children at the same time.

Kali explains that, “If you can’t take care of yourself financially, you aren’t prepared to adequately provide what a child deserves,” and I agree with her. Children don’t need every toy or baby gadget on the Earth to be happy, but they do need basic necessities like food and a roof over their heads, monthly bills that can come into jeopardy if you are unable to make regular payments on your debt.

3. Ability to Handle Adversity

As anyone will tell you when he or she is dealing with large amounts of debt, there’s no such thing as a nice, linear payoff schedule. Life happens, things come up, and often you have to make hard decisions about just how much debt you want to pay off each and every month.

For us, the biggest shock of course was finding out we were having two babies, not one. To me, at 26 years old, I felt like I could handle one baby. I felt like my income, the funds I saved, and my general life experience meant I could be a good mother to one baby. However, the day I found out there were two, I spent an hour sobbing in the shower that night. Simply put, I was terrified. I was scared of everything like losing one or both of them since the pregnancy automatically became high risk. I was also worried how I was going to afford both of them with my husband still in school, and of course, I had tons of vain thoughts about how my small frame was going to carry two kids as long as possible throughout the pregnancy.

But, like all the other times in my life when I handled unexpected events, I pulled myself together and continued to work on a plan. I knew that if I could just work a little bit harder, not only could I be self-employed but I could also cut out the significant childcare expenses that two children bring by staying home with them myself.

That, of course, is exactly what I did. My boy/girl twins are 7 months old now, and I have been self-employed for almost a year. It hasn’t been without its difficult moments, that’s for sure, but because of hard work, financial discipline, and planning, we’re still on track to pay down our debt and ensure our children have everything they need to grow up happily and healthily.

You Have Nine Months to Prepare

If you are in debt and pregnant, there’s nothing stopping you from using this time to get your finances organized and develop a plan. The best thing you can do is, of course, reduce your expenses and raise your income. Trust me, I know it’s challenging to ask for a raise or take on extra work when you’re hugely pregnant, exhausted, and have to pee all the time. I’ve been there. But, your children are worth it. Their safety and security is worth it.

Essentially, if I can do it, you can do it. Take the steps now to work on developing the three qualities I mentioned above: discipline, hustle, and handling adversity. Luckily for you, children bring immense joy and happiness, and you’ll find having them is the best decision you’ve ever made – with or without your debt.

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Cat Alford
Cat Alford |

Cat Alford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Catherine at cat@magnifymoney.com

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