Every year my mom starts a Christmas club account and contributes to it each month. She swears by it and says that it makes her holiday shopping much easier because she doesn’t have to charge anything on her credit card account. I think it would be wiser for her to put that money in a savings account, let it earn some interest and then use some of it to buy the gifts. Who’s right? Sandy, Arizona
You’re both right. I love the concept of a Christmas Club because of that automatic feature. Face it, we just don’t miss money we don’t see! Banks and credit unions that still offer Christmas Club accounts have no minimums or fees. And while they pay interest, it’s not much. She could easily create her own “Christmas Account,” as you suggest. Suggest that she research interest rates for online banks. Look for banks where she can boost her interest rate, not incur fees and easily link a savings account with her current checking account.
It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, and once again my husband’s goal is to get in shape. He wants to sign us both up for gym memberships, even though I’m sure this is just a phase that will fade. In the meantime, what should we consider when joining a gym? I don’t want to get stuck with high fees and an unbreakable contract. Robin, Georgia
Good for both of you! Before you sign anything, check with your employer or health plan. Some offer discounted memberships for selected gyms. Most clubs offer one or more free workouts or trial memberships for a month or so.
Be sure to visit the gym at different times during your trial period to try the equipment and to see when it’s crowded. It sounds like you’re a good shopper, so you know how important it is to compare prices and contracts. Ask what your options are for ending the contract early if you aren’t happy. Many gyms offer month-to-month memberships. Do your homework, choose a gym, and then stick with it no matter what.
I did a very stupid thing. I got a robo-call from the bank that issued one of my two credit cards. It said I was late on the payment (I was; don’t ask; earlier stupid thing), and would I authorize a payment from my checking account? Hey, sure, one more thing I don’t have to take care of.
I blithely rattled off my checking account number, the bank routing number, a check number, and the amount I authorized.
After I hung up it hit me: an anonymous robot had called me and I shared all the information someone would need to clean out my checking account. Before I closed my account or stopped payment on any and all drafts, I called the bank. Fortunately, the call was legitimate and the payment was being processed. But I will NEVER be that careless again! Please warn your readers. Bonnie, Texas
You just did. Thanks!
Question: Do you have a Christmas Club, Freedom Account subaccount or special savings account set up for Christmas 2013? Join in the discussion here.