In today’s uncertain interest rate environment, it is hard to know where to put your money. On one hand, you need liquidity: Experts say you need enough to cover several months’ expenses, in case of an emergency or job loss. On the other hand, you don’t want all your cash sitting in a low-yielding checking or savings account, earning little if any interest and getting eaten up by fees.
Unfortunately, competition between big brick-and-mortar banks won’t help you much these days, said Alex Matjanec, co-founder of bank comparison site MyBankTracker.
“Many banks already have the maximum deposits they want to carry. They recognise they don’t necessarily have to offer the best rates,” he said.
But luckily there are still options for people looking to make an extra buck, particularly for those willing to try small or online-only banks, as well as credit unions. Here are three types of cash you might be sitting on - and some smart places to put it.
If you are losing money on your checking account, you can do better. That might seem challenging, since many come with minimums and fees that deplete your balance each month. But finding a bank that skips maintenance fees and reimburses out-of-network ATM charges can save you big, said Matjanec.
“Most consumers don’t have enough cash that 1 percent interest will let them make money on their money,” he said. “Yet something like ATM fees can make a difference of hundreds of dollars a year.”
The account you use regularly shouldn’t be costing you.
Short-term savings goals
For cash you won’t need for a year or two, you might be willing to trade some liquidity for a higher interest rate - say, with a certificate of deposit account that guarantees a certain interest if you don’t withdraw for a set period of time. (If you take out the money early, you get hit with a penalty.)
However, Greg McBride, a chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, says rates are not rising fast enough for you to be able to capitalise on higher rates before the certificate of deposit account matures.
For example, McBride says, a one-year certificate of deposit account that offers 0.95 per cent interest would have to see its rates rise to about 1.71 per cent within the first six months of the term to ultimately beat a traditional one year certificate of deposit account paying 1.33 per cent.
Your emergency fund
Depending on your current income and obligations, you might need to keep on hand anywhere from three months’ to two years’ worth of expenses. “You always have to have a baseline of what you need to survive,” says Matjanec. Of course, for families or anyone with mortgages, rent, car insurance and other costs, the right savings number might be higher, said Matjanec. To figure out what you need, add up your monthly costs and round up by about 20 per cent for missed expectations, he said.
Then shop around for high-yielding savings accounts that could earn you more cash.
Adapted from http://www.cnbc.com