Small Savings Accounts for Winter Holidays Regain Popularity in Australia
If you live in other parts of the world save for Australia, you might not immediately compute the importance of the return of Christmas Club accounts. However, in the banking system down-under, which is essentially dominated by four major banks (which are, as a matter of fact, referred to as ‘the Big Four’), this move signals a potential recovery for smaller banks, mutual funds, credit institutions and other types of lenders. Christmas Club accounts are a type of savings account, which allow the holder to keep depositing money throughout the course of a calendar year. They cannot withdraw or otherwise spend the money in said account until the approach of the winter holidays – which typically means until November.
The fact that Christmas Club accounts are making a comeback falls in line with other recent research findings, which point to a more conservative attitude among Australian income-earners. For the large part, Australians are now trying their best to set as much money aside as they can, probably as an effect of the recently surmounted global financial crisis. Only 2 per cent of the population says they are struggling with making the deadlines on their debt repayments, while most of the others are, at the very least, saving whenever they can afford to. As one analyst indicated, it seems that Australia’s attitude toward money has taken a turn back in time, to the mindset that prevailed during the 1970s: save as much as you can, because you never can tell what the future holds. As such, it’s no wonder that research at http://www.bankwest.com.au/personal/savings-term-deposits/savings-term-deposits-overview has revealed that the savings and term deposits market is growing increasingly competitive. To boot, online savings accounts often provide their customers more advantageous interest rates than products purchased offline, through bank branches.
Data released in early November by Abacus, Australia’s industry organization for mutual banks, building societies, credit unions, and other, smaller type of lenders, has revealed that there are over 500,000 Christmas Club account holders among its members at the moment. Similarly, Jane Calder, the spokeswoman at Heritage Bank, indicates that the numbers of such accounts has increased by a 10 per cent margin over the past couple of years. Heritage Bank currently boasts 17,000 such active accounts, with holders saving on a regular basis. The amounts saved are by no means impressive, yet, when considered over the course of a whole year, it’s easy to understand how they eventually add up. Most Heritage Bank Christmas Club account holders are saving around $15 to $20 a week, which they send to said accounts through pre-programmed direct credit payments, or from the current accounts which they use for day-to-day transactions.
The positive outlook with respect to Australia’s habit of saving up whatever it can afford is confirmed both by Christmas Club account owners, as well as by representatives from yet another small lender: Steve James from Teachers’ Mutual Bank. According to James, there are 5,600 clients at his institution who have opened such an account, and the overall number of holders has been creeping up at the slow, yet steady pace of 3 to 4 per cent per year over the past couple of years. The average amount saved by a Teachers’ Mutual Bank Christmas Club saver is somewhere between $1,000 and $1,200. Meanwhile, the savers are praising the discipline that such a habit induces. They’re saying that saving didn’t use to come naturally to them, which most often found their finances depleted after the winter holidays. Christmas and New Year’s tend to tax people’s budgets with spending on festive meals, presents and travel cost – however, a small, yet smart solution such as a Christmas Club account can save one a lot of financial grief.