Suze Orman says she finally figured out a way to pay people for saving money.
The celebrity financial advisor has teamed up with Alliant Credit Union through Dec. 31, 2021, to offer a special high-yield savings account that pays out a $100 bonus to customers who consistently save money for a year.
To earn the $100 bonus, account holders must deposit at least $100 into the account each month for 12 consecutive months, and have at least $1,200 in the account after 12 months. They’re allowed to withdraw money during that time without sacrificing the end-of-year bonus — Orman says she made sure of that. They just have to maintain a $100 minimum balance and reach a total of $1,200 at the end of one year. The account also advertises $0 monthly fees and a nationwide network of free ATMs.
The unusual partnership traces back to late last year, when the CEO of Alliant approached Orman about sponsoring her podcast, “Women & Money.” Orman took the opportunity to counter with a proposal of her own.
“They offered to sponsor the podcast. I said great, that’s fine, but I don’t really care about that. I want to help people save money,” says Orman, a best-selling author and NextAdvisor contributor.
In the end, Orman got both: ads on her podcasts plus “The Ultimate Opportunity Savings Account,” the co-branded initiative with Alliant.
Orman is not getting paid to promote the new savings initiative, says Dennis Devine, CEO of Alliant Credit Union, adding that the podcast spending was modest. Nor was she paid for the very active role she played in developing the campaign. “I kid with Suze that she’s got a career in product management at a financial services company,” Devine told NextAdvisor. “It was her creative idea.”
The deal took a few weeks to come together. “At first, honest to God, he said no,” Orman recalls of the conversations. Devine told NextAdvisor there were costs to consider, especially if the idea took off. Because credit unions are cooperatively owned, “we wanted to make sure we were being responsible stewards,” he said.
Orman wasn’t surprised — other credit unions had turned down her idea, she says. But she made her case again, and after some back and forth they had an agreement that Devine says is in keeping with Alliant’s mission to improve the financial well-being of its members.
In two months, 10,000 people have signed up for the account, exceeding expectations, according to Allison Videtti, director of brand management and marketing at Alliant.
Now, according to Alliant, the Ultimate Savings Opportunity is available to an unlimited number of new customers through Dec. 31, 2021. (NextAdvisor does not have a paid relationship with Orman or Alliant.)
Experts like Orman recommend that you save at least six months’ of living expenses (and sometimes more) in a liquid emergency fund. You can dip into the money if you have an unexpected loss of income, a sudden large expense, or even an exciting opportunity that requires upfront cash. A high-yield savings account — which offers a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account and comes with FDIC deposit insurance up to $250,000 — is an ideal low-risk vehicle to store your emergency fund.
Alliant is an online-only credit union based in Chicago. Because credit unions are owned by their members, they tend to offer better rates and customer service than banks. Alliant’s checking option was recently named one of NextAdvisor’s best checking accounts for its relatively high APY and monthly ATM reimbursement.
The catch is that credit unions have membership requirements. In the case of Alliant, this is easy to solve: a $5 membership fee to Foster Care to Success — a nonprofit that assists foster youth entering adulthood — will grant you membership to Alliant. The credit union will pay the membership fee on your behalf.
In fact, eligibility requirements shouldn’t be a deterrent to joining a credit union, says Todd Adams, CEO of Alloya, an organization representing 1,400 credit unions across the country. “There’s a credit union for everyone,” Adams says, though finding one “may take a little bit of work.” To find one near you, he recommends Googling your location plus the words “credit union” or using the credit union locator tool offered by NCUA, the National Credit Union Administration.
Orman’s goal, she says, is to make saving as rewarding as possible.
“Let’s just simply pay people to save,” she says. Alliant savers who get the bonus, she points out, will earn the equivalent of a 16% APY. “All you do is put in $100 a month for 12 consecutive months. Fabulous.”
This post has been updated to correct the terms of Alliant’s offer, which has been extended through Dec. 31, 2021.