Building your savings can be tough — you likely have other options for your money that provide more immediate gratification than saving for the future. In addition, people often let small hassles — like having to fill out paperwork or remembering to transfer money — stand in the way of their savings progress.
At first, your savings might not look like much. A few cents here, a few dollars there — and if you piece together $3 a day, after a week you’ll have around $20 to show your efforts. Keep up the good work, however, and in a year you’ll have $1,000 in your bank account. Check out these eight banking products that help you save money.
Learn Ways to Save Money at Your Bank
As you start accumulating money, you don’t want to keep the extra in your checking account when you can earn higher interest rates by using other banking products. Different bank accounts offer a range of interest rates, balance requirements, and restrictions on how easily you can access your money. Here are eight of the best ways to save money at a bank:
1. Watch Your Money Grow in a Savings Account
Savings accounts offer a safe place for you to keep your money and earn some interest. Find the best high-interest savings account by comparing features like annual percentage yield, fees and promotions.
Decide if you’re willing to explore the world of online banking. You can often earn a higher interest rate with an online savings account because online banks don’t have the same overhead costs as brick-and-mortar banks, and they pass those savings on to customers. The FDIC insures your money for up to $250,000 in case the bank fails.
Many free savings accounts are available, so do your homework and find one that’s right for you. Look for an account that doesn’t charge monthly fees or for using an ATM, and start making deposits as often as you can to build up savings even faster.
2. Use a Certificate of Deposit to Accelerate Savings
You can often get a better interest rate — which will enable you to grow your savings more quickly — if you don’t plan on withdrawing your savings for a while, by putting your cash in a certificate of deposit. Because there are early withdrawal penalties associated with CDs, it’s essential you don’t withdraw the money until the CD matures.
“CDs are deposits that are held for a specific period of time, such as six months, nine months, one year and longer,” said Stephen Fournier, market president and regional retail leader at KeyBank. “It’s important to remember there are penalties for withdrawing money from this sort of account before the specific time period expires. These accounts earn interest throughout the time period and tend to have higher interest rates than typical savings accounts,” said Fournier.
3. Ladder Your CDs to Maximize Interest Earned
Typically, you earn higher interest rates on CDs with longer terms. The downside, though, is that if you take your money out early, you pay an early withdrawal penalty. Employing a CD-laddering strategy can help you maximize the interest rates while minimizing the risk that you’ll incur an early withdrawal penalty. To create a ladder, divide the money you will deposit in CDs into different terms. When each portion matures, you can reinvest it into a longer-term CD because you will have another CD maturing shortly thereafter.
For example, if you are putting $4,000 into CDs, you could put $1,000 into a three-month CD, $1,000 into a six-month CD, $1,000 into a nine-month CD, and $1,000 into a one-year CD. When the three-month CD matures, you can renew it for a one-year term, knowing you have another CD maturing in just three months.
4. Save in Short Order With a Money Market Account
You might consider a money market deposit account instead of a regular savings account if you typically write a few checks each month. Money market accounts pay interest — and you can usually write checks on them and access the funds with a debit card.
You can withdraw and transfer funds in these accounts only within federal transaction limits, however. Government regulations limit the number of checks you can write to six per month, but your bank could further restrict you — and charge you for additional transactions.
“Money market accounts usually offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts, but they might come with more restrictions,” said Fournier. “These accounts often require higher minimum balances than regular savings accounts.”
5. Save for Year-End Gifts With a Holiday Savings Account
Some banks offer holiday savings accounts that enable customers to save money throughout the year for holiday spending. Use direct deposit to save money faster and watch the interest accrue. When the holidays roll around, you can access the money quickly and enjoy shopping without worrying about spending money you need for other expenses. Look for accounts that don’t charge fees to open or maintain the accounts.
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6. Round Up Purchases With Acorns to Step Up Savings
Acorns is an app that rounds up your purchases to the next dollar and deposits the change in an investment account on your behalf. For example, if you make a purchase for $14.25, Acorns rounds the purchase up to $15 and invests the remaining 75 cents for you.
You can also choose to make recurring investments, such as adding $5 a week or month to your account. Acorns charges a $1 per month fee, or $2 per month with retirement savings added in, and the investments have their own fee.
7. Put Your Savings on Autopilot With Digit
Digit is an app that studies your spending habits and, when you can afford it, automatically moves money to your Digit savings account. Instead of locking yourself into a specific dollar amount for a recurring transfer, you can use Digit, which makes variable adjustments based on your spending habits.
Digit is so confident that it won’t overdraft your account that it will pay any overdraft fees up to two times per customer. Whenever you need your money, you can withdraw it from your account. Digit starts with a 100-day free trial and is $2.99 per month thereafter.
8. Use Auto Payments to Expedite Saving
If your employer allows you to get your paycheck via direct deposit, adjust your deposit so it doesn’t all go into your checking account. For example, if your goal is to set aside $100 per paycheck to build an emergency fund, ask your employer to automatically put that $100 into your savings, money market, CD or holiday savings account — and watch the savings add up.
Once you have your savings momentum going, consider taking even more control of your financial life by creating a budget — or, if you prefer, a spending plan. Instead of collecting the spare change here and there or relying on an algorithm to save for you, track your spending and find areas you can cut costs to accelerate your savings.