Countrywide Bank: Bernanke's Comments Underscore Need For Growth in Personal Savings

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Countrywide Bank, N.A., last week posted a link to IRS Form 8888 on its Web site as part of its ongoing national initiative to encourage consumers to save more.

Take a close look at your interest income for 2006. If it doesn't quite measure up to what you had hoped, set an aggressive goal to automate your savings by earmarking a certain amount for direct deposit.

Following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony today before Congress, Countrywide Bank reiterated its view that consumers should take a closer look at the yields they are receiving on their savings accounts. According to Countrywide Bank Managing Director and Head of Retail Banking and Investments Services Pierre P. Habis, many Americans are still earning less than one percent on traditional passbook savings accounts when they could be earning more than four to five percent annually with a high-yield online savings account, money market account or certificate of deposit.

"Chairman Bernanke's comments today signal an opportunity for those who know they should be saving to get serious about opening some type of high-yield account or time deposit," said Habis. "And after the Commerce Department reported last month that the nation's personal savings rate slumped to a negative 1 percent in 2006, the lowest since the Great Depression, I think this is further confirmation that it's never too late to get serious about saving and earning the highest rate possible."

IRS Enables Savings

To further support the concept of savings, Countrywide Bank, N.A., a member of the Countrywide Financial Corporation family of companies, last week posted a link to Internal Revenue Service Form 8888 on its Web site as part of its ongoing national initiative to encourage consumers to save more of their hard-earned money. A link to Form 8888 is available at http://www.countrywidebank.com through April 18, 2007.

Effective for the 2006 tax year, Form 8888 allows filers to divide their refund among up to three accounts with direct deposit. Qualifying accounts include those held with a bank, mutual fund, credit union or brokerage firm. An account can be a checking, savings or other account, such as an individual retirement account (IRA), health savings account (HSA), Coverdell education savings account, or other types of accounts. According to the IRS, refunds are received faster through direct deposit and the process is generally more secure.

While Form 8888 allows for greater savings flexibility, filers can still directly deposit their refund into one checking or savings account, or receive their refund as a paper check in the mail. IRS Form 8888 is free of charge and is available to Countrywide Bank customers and non-customers alike. For more information about Form 8888 and other changes in the 2006 tax law, consult your tax advisor and visit http:///http://www.irs.gov.

"Tax season is always a great time to reflect on how hard you're money is working, particularly when the 1099 forms come in from your bank or other financial institution," said Habis. "Take a close look at your interest income for 2006. If it doesn't quite measure up to what you had hoped, set an aggressive goal to automate your savings by earmarking a certain amount for direct deposit."

Since its launch in 2001, Countrywide Bank has steadily expanded the reach of its financial centers to 13 states including: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Its 100th financial center opened in January 2007 in Smithtown, New York, on Long Island. Located within many Countrywide Home Loans branches, Countrywide Bank employs a unique, low-overhead strategy of offering expertly staffed financial centers designed to meet the diverse savings and investment needs of its customers.

SavingsLink

Countrywide Bank offers consumers diverse financial products, including SavingsLink, a high-yield online savings account; high-rate CDs; and money market and retirement accounts, as well as quality investment and insurance products.* With SavingsLink, individuals can earn interest rates among the highest in the nation on their savings, and maintain the flexibility to easily transfer money to and from their checking, money market or investment account. Additionally, SavingsLink's tiered model rewards customers who save more by offering higher interest rates for higher balances. For more information about Countrywide Bank, visit Google Video and query "Countrywide Bank."

About Countrywide Bank

Countrywide Bank, N.A., is a member of the Countrywide Financial Corporation family of companies. Countrywide Bank offers consumers highly competitive rates on certificates of deposit and money market accounts and, through its family of companies, also offers quality investment products. Customers can review banking products and services, check rates on deposits, and apply for new accounts by phone, online, or at one of the financial centers located throughout the country. In addition, the company offers the same superior rates and unsurpassed personalized service to its business customers through its Premier Business Banking and Commercial Banking Divisions. For more information about Countrywide Bank, visit http://www.countrywidebank.com. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

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Daniel Weidman