Make Your Own Pot of Gold This St. Patrick’s Day Mar 17, 2012, 8:00 am By Emily Haleck

Make your own pot of gold this St. Patrick’s Day with 10 savings tips from Bank of American Fork:

1. Automate savings: Have money directly deposited from your paycheck into a savings account. After you’ve built up a rainy-day fund that could get you through 3-6 months of no income, you can allocate automatic savings into another savings vehicle, such as an IRA or 401(k). Even if you’re paying down debt, always set a little aside for saving. Learn more about automatic savings transfers.

2. Find a high-yield savings account. Your money might as well be earning interest while it sits in a savings account. These days, the accounts with the best yields are often online savings accounts, where all your transactions occur online rather than through a brick-and-mortar location. View rates for Bank of American Fork’s high-yield savings account.

3. Find a free checking account. According to a Bankrate survey, the average interest-bearing checking account charges a monthly service fee of $14.15 and requires maintaining a balance of nearly $5,600 at a near-zero rate of interest to avoid fees. Instead, look for a free checking account that charges no monthly service fees or per-transaction fees and doesn’t require a minimum balance. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s free checking account.

4. Pay down high-interest debt first. Pay down debt based on interest rate. This often means paying off credit cards, which usually have double-digit interest rates and are  typically the costliest debt households have. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s credit cards with low, fixed interest rates.

5. Use a rewards credit card. If you use a credit card frequently and are disciplined about paying off the balance in full each month, consider getting a rewards credit card. Rewards often include cash back, airline miles, gift cards or other merchandise and travel perks. Just be sure to resist the urge to overspend just for the sake of the reward. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s rewards credit card.

6. Track spending, Tracking your spending is easy when you use a credit or debit card in conjunction with an online money management tool that automatically pulls in transactions from all of your financial accounts—even those at other institutions—to help you see where you’re spending and where you can cut back. Set budgets, savings goals and create debt reduction plans to help you make the most of your money. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s Online Money Manager.

7. Refinance your mortgage. Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows and with government-backed programs like the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, many underwater borrowers are now eligible to refinance their mortgages at more attractive interest rates. This could save you hundreds of dollars per month that could be applied towards savings or debt reduction. Refinance with a Bank of American Fork mortgage loan.

8. Smarten up with your Smartphone. Harness the power and convenience of your Smartphone by downloading apps to find the cheapest gas, getting digital coupons for local vendors or scanning a product barcode to get on-the-spot price comparisons at nearby retailers. Set up online banking alerts to receive notification to your phone when you dip below a specified account balance. Get Bank of American Fork’s Smartphone apps

9. Don’t delay retirement saving. The sooner you set money aside for retirement, the more potential it has to grow. If your employer has a 401(k), contribute up to the maximum employer match. Contributions not only reduce your taxable income now, but your investment goes to work immediately and grows tax free until you begin withdrawals in retirement. You can also contribute to an Individual Retirement Arrangement, or IRA, up to $5,000 per year ($6,000 if you’re age 50 or older). CD-based IRAs can be opened at banks and credit unions, while investment-based IRAs are available through brokerage firms or mutual funds. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s IRAs.

10.  Reduce household bills. There are lot of ways to reduce household expenses, including eliminating your home phone if you primarily use your cell phone, cutting off your cable if you primarily watch shows online, and raising the deductible on your car insurance to slash the monthly bill. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs (and turn them off when they’re not in use) to save on electricity and get a programmable thermostat to save on gas.

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