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Savings plan: Questions and answers about the savings plan

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Questions and answers about the savings plan (one-time investment / monthly savings):

What types of savings plans are there?
Banks offer various savings concepts for their customers. The investment can be made once at the beginning or in monthly installments, depending on the offer. In our comparison, we have therefore divided the form of savings into "one-off investments" and "monthly savings"; this FAQ also deals with both variants. The banks' savings plans can differ in various criteria. There are savings plans with fixed or variable interest rates, sometimes bonus interest is added. The duration of the contract and the possibility of disposal are also regulated differently. A direct comparison of the offers is therefore often difficult.

Who are savings plans with monthly installments suitable for?
Savings plans are suitable for security-conscious savers who regularly want to set aside money to save on a goal. They are also suitable for savers who do not have a high investment amount for a one-off investment and want to start building up their wealth. The savings balance is growing continuously, with standing orders or automatic direct debit, saving becomes a fixed factor in the budget plan. Often parents or grandparents set up savings plans for children or grandchildren.

How do single investments differ from fixed deposits or savings bonds in a savings plan?
In the case of one-off investments, as with the fixed-term deposit / savings bond, the investment amount is paid in for a certain period of time. However, with the savings plan you usually have the option of getting part or all of the investment amount during the term, with the fixed deposit / savings bond, on the other hand, an early disposal is excluded. In addition, the interest rate differs. With the savings plan, different interest rates can apply for the individual years, and the interest rate can sometimes be variable. In the case of fixed-term deposits / savings bonds, a fixed interest rate is agreed for the entire term, the return here is often higher because there is no availability.

For which periods are savings plans offered?
Savings plans are often offered for terms between 3 and 10 years. In the case of monthly savings, there are also very long-term contracts with a term of up to 25 years. If necessary, the term can be shortened retrospectively by means of a disposition option.

What is compound interest?
In the case of compound interest, you will receive renewed interest on an interest amount that was already credited to an earlier period.

What is meant by the term "average increase in value"?
Some banks advertise the "average increase in value". Here is an example: A one-off investment of EUR 100.00 earns interest at 5.00% over two years. After one year the capital including interest amounts to EUR 105.00. In addition, in the second year there is 5.00% interest on EUR 105.00, i.e. EUR 5.25. At the end of the term, the saver receives EUR 110.25. In this simple case, the return corresponds to the interest rate of 5.00%. However, the "average annual increase in value" is higher at 5.125% (10.25: 2). Because it also includes the annual interest accruing to the capital effectively deployed. The average increase in value therefore simulates a higher return than the investment actually yields. The longer the term, the greater the gap to the return.

What is the average interest rate?
When calculating the average interest rate, the individual interest rates are simply added and divided by the number of years. The result is a simple mean value that is hardly meaningful.

What does the return say?
The return key figure takes the compound interest effect into account and shows the additional amount that is generated over the entire term per year. In contrast to the average increase in value, the key figure always relates to the capital originally invested.

What should you consider when comparing savings plans?
In savings plans, you should always compare the interest rate with the rate of return. Instead, the providers often name the "average increase in value" or the "average interest rate" in order to make their offer appear more advantageous. Pay attention to whether the interest rate is fixed or variable, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the interest rate development. Bonus interest often does not have as much of an effect on the return as it may seem at first glance. Bonus interest is paid on the annual savings installment, the annual interest credit or a one-off payment on the savings installments paid at the end of the term. Bonus payments on the annual interest credit have the least effect. Bonus payments on the annual savings rate and one-off bonuses on the paid-in savings rates at the end of the term differ in the compound interest effect. You remain flexible thanks to the availability options. Pay attention to the difference between whether the contract ends or is continued by a ruling. In the case of monthly savings, the question also arises whether the savings rates can be suspended or reduced in consultation with the bank.

Is there a possibility of an early disposal?
The possibility of disposal is regulated differently in each case. If it is offered, a distinction must be made as to whether the contract ends or is continued by means of a ruling. In some cases, a possibility of disposal with a 3-month notice period is granted, with which EUR 2,000 per month can be withdrawn without interest and without prior notice. Falling below the minimum investment amount can be excluded. If notice blocking periods are mentioned, termination is not possible during this period. By disposing of the monthly savings, a bonus claim may be waived.

What happens if the monthly savings installments cannot be paid?
With some providers, the savings rate can be suspended; this is either possible once for a certain number of months or results in the contract being suspended until the end of the term. In some cases, the savings rate can also be reduced, down to the minimum savings rate. Suspending or reducing the savings should be discussed with the bank in advance. In the case of offers that do not allow flexibility in the savings rate, it can have a negative effect on the return if the agreed savings are not made.

Can capital-forming benefits be paid into a savings plan?
There are special bank savings plans for creating capital-forming benefits. However, in contrast to building society savings or fund savings, these are not subsidized by the state. Only a few direct suppliers have the product in their range, you can find an overview here.

What is deposit insurance?
Legal or voluntary measures taken by credit institutions to protect customer deposits in the event of insolvency are referred to as deposit protection. A detailed article on this subject can be found here.

How safe are savings plans?
Savings plans at banks are security-oriented investments. In the event of the bank's insolvency, the deposit guarantee is responsible for the claims of the depositors within the specified framework. Information on the relevant deposit insurance scheme can be found in the provider information. This is linked in the comparisons via the provider graphic. In the overnight money, fixed-interest investment and savings plan comparison, we also provide a direct comparison of which statutory deposit protection is responsible and whether there is any additional voluntary protection scheme. If possible, limit your investment to the legally guaranteed amount so that your money is adequately protected.

How can a savings plan for a child be set up?
If parents, grandparents, relatives or acquaintances want to set up a savings plan for a child, they have two options. Either you save on a savings plan under your own name, the interest income can, if necessary, be released through your own exemption order. In this case, they have access to the saved amount until they give it to the child on their 18th birthday, for example. If there is a dispute during the savings phase, the account holder retains the freedom to decide whether the child should actually receive the money. Another option is to set up the savings plan directly in the child's name. The account opening must then be signed by the legal guardian; the child's exemption amounts can be used. Payments can be made by standing order from any account, the savings belong to the child.


Questions and answers about building society savings:

For whom is building society profitable?
Stiftung Warentest always considers building society contracts to be worthwhile when building society savers can benefit from state subsidies - employee savings allowances and housing construction bonuses. For savers with fixed home ownership plans, building society savings are attractive even without state premiums. The interest rate for the building loan is already fixed when the contract is signed, so this financing component is independent of future developments on the capital market. A home loan and savings contract is often the first step towards home ownership.
A home loan and savings contract can also pay off for homeowners who want to finance future repairs or modernization of the home with a home loan. For loans under EUR 50,000, banks often charge high interest rates or only offer installment loans. On the other hand, the favorable interest rate for building society loans also applies to small loan amounts.

What are capital formation benefits?
Capital-forming benefits are a collectively or contractually agreed cash benefit of up to EUR 480.00 / year. The amounts should be invested, otherwise the entitlement expires. The employer transfers the capital-forming benefits (if desired with an additional employee share to exhaust the employee savings allowance) directly to the investment account specified by the employee. Even if the employer does not pay a subsidy, he is obliged to pay voluntary contributions from the employee into a VL system at the request.
Frequently used forms of investment for capital-building services are building society savings, bank savings and fund savings in equity funds. Bausparen and VL-compatible equity funds are promoted with government grants.

Who receives the employee savings allowance?
Employees receive an employee savings allowance of 9.00% on their capital-forming benefits. Saving amounts of up to EUR 470.00 annually (married couples: up to EUR 940.00) are funded. This corresponds to a maximum allowance of EUR 42.30 / year (married couples: up to EUR 84.60).
To receive the employee savings allowance, the taxable annual income must be less than EUR 17,900 (married couples: less than EUR 35,800).

Who will receive the home construction premium?
A housing construction premium of 10.00% on their own payments will be given to private individuals who are subject to unlimited income tax and have their place of residence or habitual abode in the Federal Republic of Germany. Saving amounts of up to EUR 700.00 annually (married: up to EUR 1,400) are funded. This corresponds to a maximum allowance of EUR 70.00 / year (married couples: up to EUR 140.00 / year).
To receive the home construction premium, the taxable annual income must be below EUR 35,000 (married couples: below EUR 70,000). In addition, for contracts that were concluded from 1.1.09, the building society savings must be used for residential purposes - i.e. to build, buy or modernize a property. Only for building society savers who sign before they are 25 years of age, the earmarking does not apply after seven years; You can then use the savings you have funded to buy a car, a vacation, or something else. In some hardship cases such as unemployment or death, residential use is also waived.
Bausparen is often particularly interesting for young people and young professionals. This is because Bauspar funding is available from the age of 16 (regardless of the income of the parents) and the allowable remuneration of these groups of people is usually within the funding limits.

How is the employee savings allowance applied for?
The application for the employee savings allowance will be sent to you by the building society after one calendar year. If the conditions for the employee savings allowance are met, the allowance can be applied for in connection with the income tax return.

How is the home construction premium applied for?
The application for a home construction premium is automatically sent by the building society after the end of a calendar year, provided that payments have been made to the building society account or interest has been paid. If the requirements for the home construction premium are met, the completed and signed application is sent back to the building society.

Is a home loan and savings contract only interesting for employees?
No, the self-employed can also benefit from home savings and home building premiums. However, only employees are entitled to the employee savings allowance.

Does a home loan and savings contract have to be used for building?
The saved credit can be freely used after observing the commitment period of 7 years. This is not detrimental to the employee savings allowance.
The state house building premium, on the other hand, is only received if the building society loan agreement is used for residential purposes. A contract that is concluded before the age of 25 is excluded from this regulation. The building society loan is generally only granted for residential use.

Which points are particularly important when comparing home loan and savings contracts?
Think about whether you want to use the building society loan contract as a pure form of savings or whether you want to use the building society loan at a later point in time. Check whether you are receiving capital-building benefits from your employer and whether you are entitled to an employee savings allowance or a housing bonus. Adjusted to these points, the tariff can be selected and the building society savings amount can be determined. For savers, the home loan amount should only slightly exceed the sum of the contributions paid plus interest and possible allowances so that the acquisition fees are low.
The online information offer from the building societies is sometimes poor. If necessary, further information or advice should be requested.

What tariffs are there?
Building societies usually offer several tariffs. There are tariffs for those who want to use building society savings as a profitable form of savings. Other tariffs are more suitable for building society savers with fixed home ownership plans. There are also products that leave many options open. Interest rates and conditions vary.

What is an acquisition fee?
The providers charge a contract fee of usually 1.00% to 1.60% of the home loan and savings sum. The customer can determine the home loan and savings amount himself; it influences the maximum savings and loan amount. The fee is due at the start of the contract and is offset against the first payments. Refunds in the event of a loan waiver are rarely given.

How high should the Bauspar sum be?
For savers, the home loan amount should only slightly exceed the sum of the contributions paid plus interest and possible allowances so that the acquisition fees are low. The building societies often give a minimum savings amount of z. B. EUR 5,000. The building society account can be saved up to a maximum of the building society savings amount.
If financing is planned, the building society loan agreement should be seen as a financing component and only cover part of the total amount. When it comes to the amount of the Bauspar loan, it is best to orientate yourself on the desired monthly savings. A subsequent increase in the building savings amount is often possible without any problems. I. d. As a rule, the maximum loan amount is calculated from the home loan and savings amount minus the saved amounts.

In urgent cases, can credit be available before the end of the commitment period?
If you waive state funding and, if necessary, bonus interest, you can dispose of the total credit before the end of the commitment period of 7 years. The terms of termination (e.g. notice period) of the provider must be observed.

Should you cancel a bad contract?
Anyone who already has a home loan and savings contract and realizes that it is not the best product should not cancel immediately. Rather, it is usually a matter of persevering and looking for a better offer for the next seven years. If the building society saver is entitled to state subsidies, they would lose it in most cases if they gave notice early. Even the bonus interest, which makes many tariffs interesting in the first place, would be lost without adhering to the specified minimum term.

What happens if savings cannot be paid for once?
In this case, the home loan and savings contract is dormant and can be saved again at any time. The saver can freely decide on the amount of the savings.

What does the minimum savings amount mean?
The minimum savings amount is relevant for the allocation maturity.The building society can, for example, stipulate that at least 40% to 50% of the building society's sum must be saved so that the building society loan can be applied for.

Up to what amount can I save up?
The credit - consisting of the contributions paid in, the interest credits and the allowances - should remain below the agreed building savings amount. Building societies do not accept it when contracts over and above the building society's sum are used as a financial investment.
In the past, however, some of the building societies tried earlier to get rid of old contracts with above-average interest. For example, some of them offset the bonus interest, which the customer only receives at the end of the contract, in advance of the credit. If this sum exceeded the Bauspar sum, they gave notice that the contract target would have been achieved. Others informed that if the customer would continue to save, his bonus interest would not apply because the waiver of the loan is a prerequisite here, but he is no longer entitled to the loan. If the customer declared the required loan waiver, the building society could terminate the contract. The bonus interest was then paid out, but a contract with good interest was given up. Often a change of contract is suggested, enticed with an initial credit or with a lower loan interest. The tricky thing about it: The bonus interest for the time saved up to now does not apply when switching because the conditions are not met. The bottom line is that the home saver loses a lot of money.
Anyone who does not need the building society loan, just wants to save, should not allow such arguments, presented in writing or over the phone, to sign a new contract, not even to top up the contract. A loan waiver can be made if the credit is about to reach the home loan amount. In more recent contracts it is now often stipulated how many years the bonus interest will be paid as a maximum. According to current case law, the bonus interest is not to be included in the credit in advance. Otherwise, the chances of success to defend oneself against the stubborn interpretations of the contract depend on the individual case - on the general terms and conditions of the building society in force at the time the contract is concluded.

What actually is a rating number?
On the valuation dates (usually quarterly), the valuation number of all building society contracts is determined. The rating number is decisive for the order of allocation. The one with the highest value has the first claim to allocation, provided the other requirements are met. The rating number is calculated from the savings and the amount of time the credit is idle according to the "time times money" principle.

What is a building society loan?
The home saver sets the home loan amount at the beginning and saves the contract in the savings phase. If the requirements for an allocation are met, the building society loan for residential purposes can be applied for, if desired. The terms of the loan are already guaranteed in the home loan and savings contract. As a rule, the maximum loan amount is calculated from the home loan and savings amount minus the saved amounts.

What does over-allotment mean in the credit phase?
In the case of tariffs with over-allotment, the building society saver can choose a higher building society loan and thus have more than the building society's sum paid out. For this he pays a higher repayment contribution or he must have already made a relatively high savings.

What does election allocation mean in the credit phase?
With some tariffs, the building society saver can apply for allocation at any time after a minimum term of two years, for example. For an early allocation, however, disadvantages must be accepted, e.g. B. a high repayment contribution or a reduced building society loan.


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