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Saving: How Saving Works

Provided by Visa, Content Partner for the SME Toolkit

When setting up a savings plan, it’s a good idea to think about more than just how much money you’ll need in the future. You should also be looking at ways your money can earn more money for you.

Fortunately, this is a lot easier than it sounds. In fact, just about the only way you can keep from earning more money with your savings is to put it under your bed or in a safe. If you take your money to a bank you can guarantee that over time you’ll make more money, and you won’t have to do a bit of work for it.

That’s because banks offer interest. In exchange for opening an account and giving the bank your money, the bank agrees to increase your money by a certain percentage every year.

For instance, if you were to take RWF100 and put it in an account that offers 6% interest, by the end of the year the bank will have given you six rwandan francs. So, without doing anything, your savings has grown to RWF106.

Compound Interest
At first, interest might not seem like a lot of money. But it grows over time. And it can add up very quickly – thanks to a powerful moneymaking tool known as compound interest.

Put simply, this is interest earned on interest.

Let's look again at that RWF100 in an account earning 6% interest. The RWF106 you have after the first year would earn 6% again the next year -- RWF6.36, or a RWF0.36 increase. After you add that to the total, you would have RWF112.36. And that new total will then earn 6% the following year -- RWF6.74, another increase.

As long as you leave the money in there, it will keep earning more. If you left that same RWF100 in a 6% interest account for 40 years, you’d have RWF1,028, and your annual interest earnings would be more than RWF50 per year.

The Rule of 72
One simple way to see the power of compound interest is through the “rule of 72.” It’s a formula for figuring out how quickly your money will double if left alone in an interest bearing account.

All you have to do is divide 72 by the interest rate. So if your rate is 6%, divide 72 by 6. At that rate, it will take 12 years to double your money.

Big Money
Still not impressed? Sure, 12 years is a long time to double your money. But that’s only if you put your money in once and leave it. If you keep contributing, your money will really grow.

Consider that 6% account one more time. If you were to put in another RWF100 each year for 40 years, you’d wind up with RWF17,433 and you’d be earning more than RWF1,000 in interest.

It really pays to start saving early and regularly.

Read the Fine Print
Just as banks give, they can take away. If you’re not careful, penalties and fees can cut into your interest. Sometimes they even eat into your actual savings. So it’s important to read the fine print when you open an account so you can know where the potential pitfalls might lie.

Watch out for:

  • Fees, charges, and penalties. These are usually based on minimum balance requirements, but they can also be attached to transactions such as ATM withdrawals and online transfers.
  • Interest thresholds. Some accounts require minimum balances before they even begin paying interest.
  • Variable interest rates. Some accounts – most often money-market accounts – will pay different interest rates for different size balances, with higher balances earning higher rates.

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