Multiple friends recently asked me about savings accounts- the best places to have them as well how much to save. A few optimistic questioners asked if there were places where 5% or 10% in interest exists- or even more.
I’m sorry to let anyone down, but as of this moment, there are no magical savings accounts that will give you 5%+….or even 2%+. Not for regular savings accounts anyway. I wish there were.
If you want to withdraw your money anytime anytime in the near future, which is what emergency savings accounts are for, you need to have an account where your money is easily withdrawn. Other types of savings vehicles, such as CDs, (which are savings vehicles that let you leave your money in for a long time (not for emergencies)), used to promise at least a decent interest rate in exchange for locking up your money for years, are now offering paltry returns way below 2% (not worth it).
However, even though savings accounts today aren’t what they used to be, you should still have one. Here’s why. What if you have a medical emergency, or a major repair in your household? Or what if you suddenly lose your job or, god forbid, get hit by a car and become disabled? There are all kinds of money emergencies that come up out of nowhere. You need to be able to have some money to draw upon so you don’t become debt-ridden or bankrupted by a surprise expense. That’s where the emergency savings account comes in.
Financial experts disagree on exactly how many months of income you should aim to put away, but the responses average around 6 months, with more conservative experts, such as Suze Orman, advising 8 months of income in an emergency fund. So whatever you make a month, post-taxes, multiply by anywhere from 6 to 8, depending on how safe you’d like to be. That’s the goal for your emergency fund.
So if I make 3,000 a month after taxes, and I want a 6 month emergency fund, I should have $18,000 (3 x 6 =18) saved that I’m not touching to go get my nails done or go see Hamilton in the center orchestra. That money is for emergencies.
Now, your emergency fund should not be invested in the market or in real estate or in anything- it should be ready to grab at a moment’s notice. So where SHOULD you keep your emergency fund?
The people who asked me about savings accounts were currently keeping extra money in their banks, where it was making something like .003% interest. Now that’s REALLYYYYY low, even in the land of savings accounts. So below are places where you can currently get 1%- 1.20% interest on your savings, as of July 14, 2017. Here are the top ones from my research:
- GS Bank (Goldman Sachs), which is at 1.20% right now. They’re online only, which is fine with me, and they’re what I use. You can start an account with as little as $1. Here’s the link to GS.
- Syncrony is at 1.15% right now. They’re also online only. You can start an account with as little as $1. Here’s the link to Synchrony.
- Ally is at 1.15% right now. Online only, and very popular.You can start an account with as little as $1. Here’s the link to Ally.
- Barclays is at 1.15% right now. They have some branches if you link brick and mortar as well as online. You can start an account with as little as $1. Here’s the link to Barclays.
My feeling is – if you have at least $2,500 in your savings account, put that money in an Index fund that is highly rated by Morningstar. You can take your money out whenever you need to, unlike a CD.
As for index- totally true for a savings account for goals (like buy a car in 5 years) but way too much risk for an Emergency Fund. If you have more than your Emergency fund money in savings, then you can think about investing it.
You can also invest in a Money Market Fund, which is basically like a savings account anyway, with similar returns.
I totally agree that everyone should have an emergency fund. If you are having trouble saving 6 to 8 months of after tax income, I would suggest having enough money to cover your basic expenses, like rent, food, utilities etc…
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