This article is featured in the carnival of personal finance #156 check it out here
It is not only possible that your savings account is costing you money, but it is highly likely! I searched for a while to see what percent of Americans have money in some type of high yield savings account (i.e. online savings account) but I couldn’t find any hard data. However, I would be willing to bet that the majority of Americans don’t have a high yield savings account and stick with the savings account at their local brick-and-mortar bank. Do me a favor right now…quit what you’re doing and look to see how much money you have in your banks savings account. If you can, figure out what the interest rate is on that savings account. If you can’t find that data, a safe assumption would be to estimate the interest rate is 0.5% or less. So lets play with some numbers because that’s what will hopefully make this real!!!
Lauren has $1000 in her WaMu savings account. First, I should commend her for at least having money in savings as many don’t even have that. But on to more important things. Pop quiz… How much does lauren have in her savings account one year from today? If you multiplied the 0.5% interest to her $1000 she would have $1,005 dollars at the end of the year…right? WRONG! Lauren would really have $970 at years end. But how can that be? Sure her account will show that her balance is $1,005, but you can’t forget to include inflation over that year. According to inflationdata.com the average for inflation is 3.43% annually. That means, although her original savings increased in number by $5 over the course of a year, in reality it would be equivalent to only having $970 in her account in todays money. If you are confused I will make this very simple for you. Lauren is paying $30 a year to basically keep her money in a bank that is making 5%-10% interest off her savings. The solution to this problem is a simple one that I’m sure most of you already know…High Yield Savings Accounts!
Go to bankrate.comto get an idea of what interest you could be earning on a high yield savings account. You should easily be able to earn a minimum of 3% interest, which will at the very least keep your money pretty close to increasing with inflation rates. I try to keep my blogs simple. If you want to look up more information on high yield savings accounts without getting bogged down by all the bank jargon go to this blogand check out all the information on them.
I’ll leave you with one more example of what your brick and mortar bank may be costing you.
Lets say Joe has $40K sitting in his local banks savings account. This is Joe’s Wedding Fund for when he gets married 5 years down the road. Let’s see what Joe’s money does over that 5 years. If he leaves it with his brick and mortar Joe will have approximately $41K in his bank account after the five year time period. Not bad, he made $1,000 bucks off it! WRONG!!!!! That $41K in “Five years time money” is really equivalent to only $35K in todays money. Basically Joe’s money is now worth $5K less than when he began. He could have gone on a SWEET honeymoon with that $5K, but now he will be forced to stay at a Motel 6 in Bakersfield, Ca. That sure doesn’t sound like much of a savings account to me.
So here is what you need to do. Keep some money in your brick and mortar savings account (I keep $300) so you can have access to it quickly in case of an emergency. Then throw all the other money that you are keeping for short term savings (less than 5 years) in a High Yield Online savings account…chances are your current bank may even have an online savings account option that has a higher interest rate than your current account! At the very least prevent from losing value in your money. Don’t put it off. Do it today open up an online savings account!