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Passbooks Not Yet Gone Or Forgotten


Passbook savings accounts may be a bit like vinyl records — they still have a following among devotees.

If you’re a baby boomer like me, you probably remember bringing your passbook to the bank regularly to deposit your birthday and Christmas money, baby-sitting money and allowance.

The little green book would go into a big, boxy printer, and the deposit and new balance would be printed out on the page. It was an easy way to watch your dollars and cents add up.

I still remember having enough money in my passbook to buy my first car, a used 1974 Ford Maverick.

You don’t need to make a trip down memory lane to revisit passbook savings accounts. Dozens of banks around the country continue to offer these traditional savings tools.

At Washington Federal, a Seattle-based bank that has roots going back to 1917, passbook savings accounts “are part of our legacy,” says marketing communications manager Cathy Cooper.

“They’re a little bit of a novelty,” Cooper says. “They feel more tangible to some people.”

Most of the accounts are held by older customers who use them to keep track of their savings.

They also are common with kids. “It’s nice to teach the very young a tangible way to save,” she says. Not only do youngsters get to watch their account balance grow, they learn the impact of compound interest.

You can’t expect to get rich from passbook savings accounts. Many pay just 0.05% APY or 0.10% APY, at a time when the top savings accounts are paying 1.00% APY or more.

At Washington Federal, passbook savings accounts and statement savings accounts both pay just 0.10% APY. The bank has almost 250 branches in eight Western states.

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