We started banking with Ally about 2-years ago. Switching from a local credit union to an online-only bank was quite a change, but it’s provided us with more financial tools and a better overall experience. Ally Bank has upgraded its “Online Savings Account to include a new set of smart savings tools designed to fit your needs. They’ll help you organize, optimize, and analyze your money, so you can push your savings further.”
We take advantage of their high-yield savings account and these tools have really helped us fine-tune our savings, budgeting, and long-term financial planning. We are not an affiliate of Ally Bank (at least not yet), but feel obligated to provide this honest review of their new features, Savings buckets and boosters.
Ally Savings Buckets and Boosters
Ally’s Savings Buckets are a way to organize your money within your savings account. If you haven’t heard of Sinking Funds, then I suggest you read this article first.
Savings Buckets allow you to divide up your savings into different non-emergency categories. These buckets live within your savings account but are separate from your emergency fund.
Remember layaway? Where you would go into a department store, put a down payment on an item, pay it off over time while the company held onto the item for you? Savings Buckets are similar. You’re identifying a future financial expense and setting the money aside while still enjoying the high-yield return on your money.
No longer do you need multiple bank accounts, sub-accounts, envelopes, etc… You can create up to 10 different savings buckets within one account. Each bucket can be assigned a different goal.
Education (Kayla’s Masters)
It’s 2020, and there’s no real reason to continue using old-fashioned methods to save when there’s intuitive software to help you.
Advantages to Savings Buckets and Boosters
Frictionless: The more user friendly, the more likely you will stick with it. If you’re jumping through hoops and taking hours to create a savings plan then you’re not likely to continue to use it or be able to involve your partner. The buckets are accessible right in your savings account.
Automation: Ally has done a great job of automating your savings. Not only can you divvy up your savings with the buckets, but you can reorganize them, prioritize them and automate recurring transfers into the buckets.
Prioritization: Set a withdrawal priority when transferring money out of savings. All of the buckets are technically still your savings account total, but simply ear-marked for easy categorization. By prioritizing which bucket get’s pulled from first, you can keep other buckets intact. For example, we have our Emergency Fund bucket as the primary. If we’re transferring out of savings, it’s likely in the event of an emergency.
High-Yield: If you’re going to sit on a pile of cash, you might want to consider a high-yield savings account. These accounts will allow your money to earn money while it sits. It’s not an earth-shattering return, but it’s better than 0% (physical cash) or .01% (traditional savings account).
Savings Analysis: Not only do you have all of these tools at your fingertips just for having an Ally Bank savings account, but they also provide an analysis of your savings progress and projected growth. The more data you have, the more educated decisions you can make with your money.
Why We Switched to Ally Bank
Growing up, I was always told that credit unions were the best place to bank. At that time, they were right. Credit unions offered exceptional, one-on-one service that the big banks simply weren’t offering, but it’s 2020 and times are different.
I can count on one hand how many times I entered the physical location of a credit union for my banking needs. With the advent of paperless payroll, online check cashing, etc… We no longer need physical banks.
Benefits to Online Banking:
Low Overhead: The lack of physical locations and smaller workforce allows online banks to invest in their software and customer service.
Customer Focus: You would think that an online bank would care less for its customers than a local credit union. My experience has been the opposite. I’ve found that Ally has a more robust user experience, far more financial tools, better account security/monitoring, and customer service is outstanding.
Geography: Online banks are not locked into one geographical region. This allows them to scale and have a larger total customer base. This provides them with more cash that they can invest and reinvest in their products and services.
The primary reason we switched to an online provider is that our local credit union couldn’t figure out how to make an app that works. It was clunky and experienced regular downtime. Ally’s app is easy to use, it connects to all of our financial software and has a much better overall service.
Online banks feel like a nice hybrid between the big banks and local credit unions and we’ve had a great experience with Ally Bank thus far.
Online-only banks are a relativity new phenomenon, but one worth looking into. It’s really nice to see financial tools and software being implemented into a savings account.
We weren’t 100 percent sure what to expect when switching from a credit union to an online bank, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised. By utilizing Ally’s Buckets and Boosters, we’ve been able to supercharge our savings and earn a decent rate of return on the cash.
In the end, having a plan for your money is important. Doing so within your savings account is a nice touch and is easy enough to continue to use it each and every month.