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If Black Friday and the holiday shopping season are on your mind, it might seem odd to think that savings accounts — and specifically savings vaults — should also be on your radar. But savings vaults are sub-accounts that help track different savings goals, and you can use them to keep your shopping organized as well as earn interest. Here are four ways multiple mini savings accounts can help you manage holiday spending. You can use them to:
1. Make a realistic spending plan. Have you created a holiday shopping budget? Do you know exactly how much you’ll spend? Having your money in separate accounts makes it easier to answer those questions.
Some institutions that offer savings sub-accounts (sometimes called buckets) let you give them nicknames. For holiday shopping, that can look like “gifts for family” and “gifts for friends." You can then deposit money into these sub-accounts based on your budget and withdraw funds to cover purchases.
You can also create vaults by opening separate savings accounts. With online accounts, you can set up electronic deposits and track balances from your mobile phone or computer. A quick check will let you know how much you have to spend in each gift-giving category. You can make sure everyone on your list is taken care of without going over budget.
Note that some savings accounts have monthly limits on certain types of withdrawals, such as electronic transfers. You’ll want to check with your financial institution to learn its policies.
2. Keep holiday spending money separate from regular expenses. Though it may be the season for increased gift-giving, the electric bill, heating bill and other monthly payments still have to be paid. When you keep gift-giving funds in savings accounts that are separate from everyday checking accounts, you can help make sure the must-pay expenses, such as utilities, are covered.
3. Avoid credit card debt. You can use your credit card to make holiday purchases (and potentially earn credit card rewards). Having the funds for your purchases earmarked in savings accounts, however, can make paying off the card balance easier. As you spend money, you’ll want to track how much savings you have available and stay within your budget. Then you can transfer funds from savings to pay the credit card bill.
Keeping track of your savings is a good habit to have in general. As the federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission noted on its website, MyMoney.gov, “People who keep track of their savings often end up saving more, because they have it on their minds.” So watching your savings while you shop can help you hold on to more of your money.
4. Get ready for post-holiday goals. Once the holidays are over, you’ll still have your accounts set up for future use. You may choose to start saving for next year’s gift-giving or rename the accounts to reflect new savings goals, say, “dream vacation” or “springtime repairs.” If you set up automatic deposits to each vault regularly, such as each payday, your account balances can continue to grow.
What to look for in a savings account
You'll want to find a savings account that won’t charge monthly fees and earns a strong annual percentage yield, or APY. The average rate for savings in November 2022 was only 0.24% APY, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but there are savings accounts that earn much more. In fact, after recent Federal Reserve rate increases, there are online savings accounts that earn 3% APY or more. Many of them have no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement.
Savings sub-accounts are a handy tool for holiday shopping, especially the ones with no monthly fees and competitive rates. These savings vaults can help you allocate your spending as well as save money.