It’s not too early to start saving for holidaysDANIEL GOODEN / L’Observateur / January 12, 2000The holidays are over, and those not enthusiastic about their coming bank account balances may be wondering how they could better save for next year.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Outside of the common savings account, there is the Christmas Club Account, designed to help save money for the end of the year when money gets tight.

Most local banks carry such an account, though each has different restrictions and allowances. In general, the Christmas Club Accountrequires a weekly or monthly deposit of a certain amount of money, some accounts requiring as little as a dollar. Usually one is restricted fromwithdrawing money from the account, though some banks will allow a single withdrawal or withdrawals for small fees. The club account mostoften runs for about 50 weeks. At the end the set term, the bank willdeposit the accumulated money in your current account or cut you a check directly.

The club accounts do have a common starting date.

At First National Bank of St. Charles in Boutte, Wayne Theall explained,”Generally, we start opening them in the first week of November.”However, the accounts normally can be opened at any time of the year. Theaccount is naturally built to mature in October to prepare for Christmas, but Sandra Ratcliff at the Union Planters Bank in LaPlace said, “It’s not strictly a Christmas account; you can use it for things like vacations.”Cindy Zeringue of First American Bank in Vacherie, agreed.

“The account closes in October, so it’s more for Christmas shopping, but people use it to pay for insurance and such,” she said.

The account is well used if not altogether popular. Zeringue said FirstAmerican banks in the River Parishes had about 1,800 to 2,000 accounts opened, “which is pretty normal.”The club accounts seem to be fairly useful for a customer looking to save money on a year-to-year basis and are a good way to save money for whatever the reason.

Gail Dawson of First American Bank in LaPlace, said, “We have grandparents that open dollar accounts, and at the end of the 50 weeks they have $50 to give to their grandkids or nieces and nephews.”So the Christmas Club Account is a good account for a yearly savings plan.

The accounts tend to pay between no interest and normal savings interest, have different required deposit amounts and are restricted to a few or no withdrawals until the end of term.

Whichever account one chooses, it allows the customer to have a little extra spending money when the press of presents, payments and bills all gather together for the holidays.

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