One of the easiest way to save money, be it for your emergency funds, future travel, dream bag etc, is to automate it. The idea is to whisk money straight from your account into a separate account that's intended for a special purpose, this way, there will be less temptation to get your grubby hands on your cash because it's already gone (of course, it's not really gone, it's merely in a separate account from your regular/payroll account).
When it comes to automated savings, I cannot recommend BPI Save Up enough because not only does it make it easy to save, it also bundles life insurance with your ATM savings account. Aside from BPI, the only other bank I know that offers automated savings is Land Bank,* but the latter does not offer life insurance, making BPI the more attractive alternative.
In order to open a BPI Save Up account, you need to have an existing BPI savings account as your source account. To open a BPI savings account, you have to go to a BPI branch and fill out and sign some documents. The initial deposits vary depending on the type of savings account, but the general documentary requirements are:
Once you have successfully opened a BPI account, enroll your account for online banking access. I did this in the same branch where I opened my account, I think it was also the same day that I got my ATM card.
Now this is the part where I got stumped.
I remember I was able to open a BPI Save Up account online, designate the frequency of transfer (i.e. weekly, every two weeks, monthly) and indicate the amount to be transferred by following some simple instructions on the BPI Direct website, kind of like what Ed Puno of the One Armed Wanderer chronicled in his blog post. But this time around, while I was trying to recreate the experience in order to write this post, after clicking "Open a Deposit Account", instead of an application form for Save Up, I was faced with these three options for time deposit accounts:
After clicking one of the links, I was led to the sign in page of BPI Express Online (aka the online bank)
and after signing in, I was greeted by a form on time deposit accounts.
I double-checked the Save Up account page to see if it was still an active product, and right there at the bottom it said to visit a BPI branch in order to open a Save Up account.
I therefore conclude that you can no longer open a BPI Save Up account online and can only do so in a BPI branch. My guess for the change is that you have to designate who your beneficiary will be for the insurance proceeds, so there's a need to open it in an actual brick and mortar branch, although I don't see why you can't do that online too. Whatever, the reason may be and although it's now slightly inconvenient to open a Save Up account, I still highly recommend that you get one for yourself, specially if you need life insurance since your Save Up deposit account is insured up to 5x its value:
Another thing to point out is that even if the idea is to automate savings, you can still manually transfer money from your source account to your Save Up account using the online banking facility. I have set up my own Save Up account to receive Php1,000 every month from my source account, but I also regularly top up my account every chance I get in order to reach my emergency funds target faster. I'll have to admit though that more than the automated savings, the bigger draw for me was the insurance coverage since BPI is not my payroll account so I really do need to regularly deposit money in it to fund my accounts. But if BPI was my payroll account, I would set it up to transfer between Php5,000-Php10,000 to my Save Up account every two weeks when I receive my salary for a painless, no-brainer savings experience.
Do you have a BPI Save Up account too? If not, where do you park your emergency funds?
*If you know of any other bank that offers a similar product, please leave a comment and I'll update this post. Thanks!