Plan ahead for the holiday season by opening a Christmas account - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Plan ahead for the holiday season by opening a Christmas Club account now

Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, a slower-paced start to the New Year is welcome relief for most consumers. But as credit card bills arrive in the mail, January can also bring stress to those who shopped ‘til they dropped during the holidays.

It's never too early to start saving for the next holiday season. Give yourself the best holiday gift this year by opening a Christmas Club savings account at your local bank. Many banks across the state of Iowa offer a Christmas Club account to help customers save for holiday gifts and expenses. This convenient tool can help you gradually save money over the course of the year and reduce or eliminate the need to use credit cards when the holiday shopping season arrives.

You may also earn interest on your savings! Many banks offer a competitive interest rate which is generally paid when your funds are disbursed prior to the holiday shopping season.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1) Decide how much to save. Consider how much money you spent during the previous holiday season. Review your budget for 2010 and then decide how much money you could feasibly save each month. Saving a small amount each month will add up by December.

2) Talk to your local banker. Check with your local banker to find out if your bank offers a Christmas Club account. Interest rates and terms can vary, so you may want to shop around. You'll also want to read the fine print. There may be a minimum required deposit to open the account or a minimum amount you must deposit each month. There may also be a penalty for withdrawing the funds before the holiday shopping season arrives. Review the terms carefully and be sure to ask your banker if you have any questions.

3) Start saving! Once your account is set up, you can start saving by making deposits on a regular basis. Most Christmas Club accounts allow automatic transfers from existing accounts for your convenience. The amount you specify is then automatically transferred to your Christmas Club savings account each month.

Information provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. For more information go to www.mysmartfinances.com or www.iowabankers.com.

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