Spending money is typically fun, while saving money is hard — all that temptation to buy cool new things or try the latest restaurant. Which is why we can all use a little extra motivation to stash away some cash, and a savings club can play a role in that process.
What is a savings club? Basically, savings clubs are a type of bank account in which the account holder contributes to the account over time to meet a specific goal. It can be a valuable option vs. breaking out your plastic and running up credit card debt.
Keep reading to learn more about savings clubs, including:
• What is a savings club?
• How does a savings club work?
• What are the pros and cons of savings clubs?
• How can you open a savings club?
What Is a Savings Club?
So, what is a savings club? A basic savings club definition is that it’s a bank account that the account holder uses to hold funds to meet a specific savings goal. For example, some people set up what are known as “Christmas clubs” in which they make regular contributions throughout the year to save for holiday gifts, travel, decor, and parties. By saving gradually in advance, they may be able to avoid the wallop of that major end-of-year credit-card bill.
Usually, savings clubs accounts that can be opened at a bank or credit union. They can be a good idea in terms of where to put short-term savings, as they typically earn interest. Often these savings clubs have other incentives attached to them to encourage account holders to follow through on their savings goals. There can also be penalties associated with savings clubs — such as forfeiting earned interest for withdrawing funds from the account early — to help motivate people to keep saving.
Recommended: How Much Money Should I Save a Month?
How Do Savings Clubs Work?
Usually, savings clubs create a schedule the depositor can follow to make regular deposits of a certain amount. So, say you open a savings club account to gather cash for a vacation next summer. If you want to save $1,200 over one year, the club would guide you through depositing $100 a month to meet that goal. Typically, the end date associated with a savings club aligns with your goal, whether that’s heading to Hawaii, getting married, or celebrating the holidays.
Deposits for savings clubs can be drawn from the account holder’s paycheck, which can make it easier to steadily progress towards meeting a savings goal. Automatic savings transfers can be a real helping hand because you don’t see the money in your checking, as if it’s available to be spent.
Some savings clubs allow multiple people to contribute to it — similar to another type of savings account, the joint account — so they can work together towards a savings goal. While usually only couples share a bank account, friends, or family members can choose to contribute to a savings club together to save up for a group vacation, present, or family reunion. Or some financial institutions will allow parents to help a child open a holiday savings account. In all cases, this can be a good strategy, since savings club accounts may offer higher interest than a typical savings account, though there can be penalties for early withdrawal.
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Benefits of a Savings Club
There are quite a few benefits attached to savings clubs, including:
• Saving on a schedule towards a specific goal
• Offering saving incentives
• Creating discipline in a savings routine
• Teaching children about financial literacy and the value of saving
• Paying higher interest rates than typical savings accounts
Recommended: How Do You Calculate Interest on a Savings Account?
Drawbacks of a Savings Club
There are also some downsides associated with savings clubs worth being aware of:
• Withdrawing funds early can lead to penalties
• Not contributing on schedule can lead to penalties
• Some savings clubs can be scams if not hosted by a financial institution such as a bank or credit union (beware “money board” and “circle game” schemes)
• Investing money elsewhere may lead to more growth
Savings Club vs Savings Account: What’s the Difference?
There are many reasons why you would put money in a savings account, and savings clubs offer a specific financial product to serve a specific goal. Let’s look at some differences between these two account types.
Savings Clubs Can Offer Higher Interest Than a Traditional Savings Account
One of the reasons savings clubs can be so motivating is because they often offer a higher interest rate than traditional savings accounts do. Knowing your money can grow faster can be an exciting prospect.
Savings Clubs Have Penalties for Premature Withdrawal
There are no penalties when someone withdraws money from a standard savings account. Nor is there a set period of time they have to keep their money in the account.
With a savings club, however, there can be penalties (such as losing the interest accrued) for actions such as withdrawing funds before the predetermined end date or for not making a contribution according to the savings club schedule. These penalties can be an incentive to save, but they can also create a challenging savings environment.
Savings Clubs Often Require a Minimum Deposit and Term Lengths
While basic savings accounts don’t usually have strict requirements attached to them, savings clubs often have minimum deposit requirements. These requirements may be as low as $1 or can be much higher. Savings clubs can also come with predetermined term lengths — usually six months to a year — and may require automatic weekly or bi-weekly deposits. Some people don’t like feeling “locked in” in this way.
Recommended: How Do Savings Accounts Work?
Starting a Savings Club
In most cases, you’ll start a savings club that’s hosted at a bank or credit union, review the terms, make an initial deposit, and continue funding the account.
Some people may choose to set up social savings clubs with friends and/or relatives by taking the following steps.
• Define a savings goal for the club
• Find people to join the savings club
• Create savings club rules and structure
• Commit to the planned schedule and follow through
Where the funds are actually kept can be decided by the group; an interest-bearing savings account will offer the nice perk of having your money earn money.
Banking With SoFi
Savings clubs can offer a motivating way to stockpile cash, thanks to their usually higher interest rates (compared to traditional savings accounts) and their structured schedule.
If you’re looking to earn money on your savings, another path is to open an online bank account with SoFi. When you start a Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay zero account fees, which can help your money grow faster. Plus you’ll spend and save in one convenient place, have fee-free access to 55,000+ Allpoint ATMS, and get tools that help you organize your money, set money goals, and save your change with Vaults and Roundups.
Why would someone join a savings club?
Savings clubs can help you efficiently save towards a specific short-term goal, like accumulating money for the holidays or for a vacation. Benefits of saving this way include a motivating format and often a higher interest rate vs. traditional savings accounts do. Also, the potential penalties associated with not sticking to the schedule can also motivate people to save.
Should I have a savings club or savings account?
Whether or not you should have a savings club vs. a standard savings account depends on your personal goals and preferences. If you benefit from having a savings schedule and are offered a good interest rate, it may be a great fit. If, on the other hand, you want the ability to withdraw funds from your account penalty-free, it may not be the right move.
Can I use a savings club for long-term savings?
Savings clubs are usually designed to meet short-term goals, not long-term savings goals. They typically last for six months to a year. Those looking for long-term growth may find that investing money elsewhere can lead to more growth than a savings club can offer.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.