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By Tracy Scott
You know that you should save money on a regular basis, but it’s hard. In the past, you may have set aside money for a few weeks, then – life happens. Getting back on track with a regular savings plan is critical to your financial well-being.
You recognize that your financial future won’t take care of itself, and you’re ready to take action.
Fortunately, financial institutions offer a variety of savings options, but it can still be challenging. The toughest part of saving money is getting started (or re-started) with a savings option that aligns with your financial goals. Remember, starting small is OK.
Use the information learned here to become a smart saver.
Regardless of the current state of the U.S. economy, you need a financial cushion in place to protect against the unexpected. Generally, basic checking accounts aren’t designed to hold money for extended periods of time but instead serve to manage liquid cashflow on a monthly, if not daily, basis. You never know when a financial emergency or job loss is on the horizon. You can embrace this uncertainty with peace of mind instead of constant anxiety.
An FDIC or NCUA-insured savings account, on the other hand, allows money to grow slowly and safely, with no risk of loss to principal. Depending on the type of account, you may even experience returns greater than a checking account.
The amount you put toward your savings will depend on your financial goals. An emergency fund is a common savings goal for new savers. For example, if you have zero savings, we recommend an account that holds 3-6 months of living expenses.
It’s easy to open a savings account since many come with low minimum balance requirements. Savings accounts have a six-time monthly withdrawal limit, but the ability to access funds quickly while earning an interest rate makes them tough to beat.
Let’s look at a few additional savings options available at financial institutions.
The High-Rate Savings account offered by Alliant encourages purposeful savings. A $5 initial deposit and a minimum daily average balance of $100 are all that’s required to open an account and earn high rates of return. If you have more than one savings goal, there’s no need to keep a mental tally of how much money you’ve allotted to each goal. Alliant members can save for specific goals by opening different supplemental savings accounts – one dedicated to each goal. For example, you might have the following savings goals on the horizon: purchasing a used car, paying for your daughter’s wedding, or saving for a European vacation. Name your savings account so it reflects your goal and get excited about saving!
A money market account is often considered a hybrid of a checking account and savings account. It sometimes pays a higher interest rate than a standard savings account and you can write a pre-set number of checks each month from the account. To take advantage of the monthly dividends paid against the account balance, account holders must meet specific requirements.
An alternative is Alliant’s High-Rate Checking Account. It only requires you to opt-in for free eStatements and make one monthly electronic deposit to earn interest on the account. A money market account is a great place to save money for a down payment on a new home.
A certificate is a savings option that offers competitive returns but restricts access to funds for a set period of time. You can also expect higher interest rates when compared to savings or money market accounts due to the limited access. Certificates are an excellent place to save money that you won’t need anytime soon. This type of account is non-liquid, and an early withdrawal may limit your expected return. If your financial goal is one to five years down the line, then a certificate might be an excellent option for you.
Select a savings option that factors in when you’ll need the funds. Whether you choose a savings account, certificate, or money market account, make your savings automatic. Set a weekly or monthly recurring transfer to your new account to help you stick to your new saving habit.