Grow your savings this party season and kick off your heels while your cash kicks into overdrive
By Andrea Sophocleous
September 25, 2009
We are well and truly into Spring and galloping towards the party season. From Melbourne Cup – no longer reserved for Melbournians – to endless Christmas parties and New Year's Eve, Spring and the beginning of Summer are undoubtedly the year's busiest months on the social calendar.
All the extra fun and party frivolity, however, can end up putting a strain on the purse strings. Which is why keeping your hard-earned cash in a high interest savings account will ensure you continue to boost your bank balance while you kick up your heels.
The USaver account, through NAB's online bank, UBank, currently offers the highest interest rate on the market – a generous 5.11 percent p.a. This is calculated daily and paid monthly when you do not make any withdrawals, and there are no fees. Citibank, HSBC and ING Direct all have savings accounts offering 4.75 percent p.a. interest rates, and Westpac's Reward Saver pays out an interest rate of 4.70 percent p.a.
Of course there are hundreds of savings accounts out there, and the best way to find the one that suits you is by searching and comparing interest rates, fees, conditions and anything else on your checklist of requirements.
The great thing about a lot of these savings accounts is that they encourage you to set up regular contributions through direct debit. So you could be making fortnightly or monthly deposits into your savings, therefore boosting not just your balance but also the amount of interest you earn, while you boogie on the dance floor.
For example, if you start a UBank USaver Account with an opening balance of $1000 and save $400 a month, you will earn $27 in interest and more than double your savings to $2,500 within four months – that is, by the end of the party season.
UBank is also offering a bonus rate of 0.10 percent p.a. if you set up a monthly automatic savings plan for $100 or more, which can help boost your earnings further.
Credit unions and building societies offer special Christmas savings accounts, designed for the purpose of Christmas spending, but with the majority of interest rates on these hovering around the 2.50 percent p.a. mark, you are better off sticking with a high interest account from the banks.
Some credit unions are also only open to employees within a certain industry or company, and their family, so research is essential.
Term deposits are also a great way of making your money work harder, generally paying more interest than a savings account. Unlike savings accounts, however, you cannot access the money for the duration of the term deposit – this can range from 30 days for a quick interest earner to five years for longer-term goals.
Naturally, the longer the period of the term deposit, the higher the interest rate. For example, a 90-day term deposit with Heritage Building Society will earn you 4.35 percent p.a. interest on maturity – one of the best rates going – while a 30-day term deposit attracts up to 3.50 percent p.a. interest. Rates for one-year term deposits are currently from 5.26 percent p.a., while for a five-year term deposit, RaboPlus is offering a 7 percent p.a. interest rate.
Speculation that the Reserve Bank of Australia will increase the official cash rate from its current 40-year low of 3 percent as the economy improves means interest rates on savings accounts will also swing upwards, but it's hard to know when this will eventuate.
The RBA meets on the first Tuesday of every month, so the next opportunity to discuss raising the cash rate is on October 6, with many observers anticipating an increase.
It is also likely that banks may introduce promotional rates or specials for the holiday season, but the big four declined to reveal their plans when approached, citing commercial sensitivity. Rather than wait, you should research the best options on offer right now, to ensure your money works hard while you party hard.