SAVING money is an important element of managing your personal finances and planning for the future.
According to Tamara Waul-Douglas, New Kingston branch manager of Sagicor Bank, if your financial goals are long-term, and you're willing to risk suffering a loss, investing potentially pays more than savings. But if you know you will need access to your funds on a day- to- day basis or within a calendar year, you should consider putting it in savings instruments, she said.
There are various saving instruments that an individual can capitalise on. These include savings accounts, certificates of deposits and money market accounts.
They all come with features to suit the saver's personal needs as it relates to how much one can commit at different periods and the short-term goals one has to meet.
The financial institution, in which the money is saved, protects the clients' money from suffering losses and provides the convenience of putting money aside for a rainy day, said Sheldon Stewart, assistant manger of personal banking at Scotiabank on King Street, downtown Kingston.
Let's start with the savings account.
Financial institutions, such as Scotiabank, offer different types of savings accounts. One such account is a basic access account in which individuals place their salary and take from that to pay their expenses.
There are others, such as the premium savings account in which savers maintain a minimum of $500,000 per month. This, Stewart figures, could be ideal for the saver who wants to make a deposit on a house or to buy a car, once the account is maintained and money is regularly deposited.
In recognition of the fact that persons may neglect saving, institutions have put plans in place to help individuals meet their savings goals.
Much like meeting a monthly loan repayment, banks and building societies allow the saver to make arrangements, giving the institutions permission to place money in a savings account.
Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) offers the "Set it and forget it" plan, Sagicor offers "Priority Me" and Scotiabank has the Automatic Savings Plan. They allow the transfer of funds, request standing orders or payroll deduction, depending on which of the institutions you have accounts with.
"Often a dedicated contractual arrangement is in place for certain types of savings plans requiring compulsory weekly or monthly savings with a guarantee of usually a higher interest rate than a regular savings account," said Michael Collins, acting sales manager at JNBS.
It is important to start saving as early as possible, but it's never too late, say the bankers.
As a starter, the saver must set goals.
"The saver has to have a goal in mind, which may include a deposit on a house; a car or equipment; education or even a family vacation," Collins said. "Setting a goal will keep the individual focused and committed to maintaining a habit of saving."
Once you know, you save what you can.
"No matter how small it is, have a start. Many make the mistake of beginning with a large amount, and their obligations rise, making them cut their savings," Stewart said.
But when you start with a reasonable amount, it encourages you to be a consistent saver, he added.
Waul-Douglas encourages savers to be disciplined and make savings a priority.
"You will be surprised at how small amounts grow over time."