By Daniel H. Trafford
One of the fun things about this lingering recession is all the new words it's introduced into the American lexicon. Take, for instance, "staycation."
This simply means that instead of going on a trip abroad, you stay close to home, to save money. In hard times, you trim the fat, and family vacations usually wind up at the top of the list of expenditures that aren't necessities.
But just as savings accounts are an essential ingredient for financial health, a change of scenery is a great ingredient for mental health and family relationships. After all, what's the good of financial stability if you can't enjoy it due to stress?
Fortunately, there's a way to have both. By squirreling away a little bit now every week, in a year you'll have enough to take that trip to the Grand Canyon, or Disney World, or any of those faraway places where the lotus blooms.
One way is to just stuff some cash under your mattress every payday. But apparently there's an even better way: Let the professionals at a financial institution handle it for you. You'll even get a little something extra out of it.
Here's what some of our local institutions have to offer:
Savings Institute Bank & Trust: In addition to its popular Holiday Club account, Savings Institute offers an All-Purpose Club account that you can use for vacations, major purchases, or anything else you desire. Deposits are made on an optional weekly schedule for 50 consecutive weeks. Payment schedules are available at local branch offices. The account balance is sent to you once a year. The All Purpose Club deposit schedule starts the first week of May, with a minimum of $2 required to open the account. A check for the balance in the account is provided to you the last week of April, in time to pay for summer plans.
Chelsea Groton Bank: The Club Savings account allows you to save for a future vacation or special purchase. You set the budget and the maturity date. A check will be sent to you for the balance in the account on that date plus accrued interest.
In addition to vacations, many of Chelsea Groton's customers use the club savings plan to save up for just about anything, including weddings, down payments — even taxes, according to Lori Dufficy, senior vice president and director of sales and marketing. And customers can have an open-ended maturity date if they just want to keep saving and saving for long-range plans, such as college.
"Let's say I want to take the family to Disney," said Dufficy. "I've got 13 months to get that money. I just keep putting money in that account every week. And there are no fees."
You can, of course, deposit the funds electronically or in person. Interest on this account compounds daily, is credited monthly and paid at maturity. A minimum balance is required to earn interest. Check at your local Chelsea Groton branch office for more details.
Charter Oak Credit Union: Charter Oak is another local institution that lets you save for vacations and other expenses with a club account. Regular payments help you save gradually. And the credit union will set up automatic transfers for you to make the whole process that much easier.
Whatever bank you choose, vacation clubs are the perfect way to save up for a vacation that otherwise would seem out of reach. Start saving now, and you just may be able to take the family on that trip in a couple of years instead of a decade.