Virtual Saving Accounts Help Chicago Consumers Jumpstart Savings Plans

My mom taught us kids to put our spare change in the piggy bank and it worked. That money helped fund many a spending spree - and even helped pay for (a small part) of my college tuition.

Problem is, nowadays much of our spending is done on credit and debit cards. The downside of not having to make a trip to the ATM is that you don't have any change leftover. Somewhere along the way, using plastic instead of paper money became one of our many excuses not to save.

But there are ways to save even virtual change. And because many of the savings methods happen automatically, you might be more likely to stick to a savings plan than if you had to empty your wallet into the savings jar every week.

Bank of America's Keep the Change program works almost the same way as your piggy bank, except it's all electronic. When you make purchases on your debit card, the bank rounds up each payment to the nearest dollar, and deposits the "change" into a savings account. So if you spend $20.25 at the grocery store, the charge shows up on your bill as $21 - and you've automatically saved 75 cents. Sure, it's not a lot of money. But if you're just not saving on your own, some is better than none.

If you can spare a little more than small change, you might consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically transferred to a savings account. Ideally, you'll be saving 10 percent or more of your income. But if that's not possible, figure out how much you can afford and give it a try for a few months. You may find that when the money isn't there in your checking account, you aren't as inclined to spend it.

Of course, if you're already spending more than you earn each month, you might worry that you can't afford to sock any money away. But if you don't start saving, how can you ever get out of the hole you've dug? Bankruptcy might be the answer. Filing for bankruptcy can provide you with a plan that will eliminate or discharge your debts - and can even prevent foreclosure. With our free one-on-one debt analysis, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney can identify a plan that meets your financial needs. Because finding financial freedom is no small change.

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