Recent declines in the stock market serve as a timely reminder to utilize bank accounts as part of a personal savings strategy to ensure steady and secure growth for that important nest egg. While this may not sound like the most fun use for your hard-earned dollars, a survey by Ally Bank last year found compelling evidence linking the amount of money people have in savings to how happy they feel.
We like to call these people "purposeful savers" because they understand the importance of setting aside a portion of their income for their overall financial health and well-being. Think of it as the flip side of retail therapy, minus the aftershock once the cumulative cost becomes apparent when balancing the monthly budget.
The good news is anyone can be a purposeful saver. Regardless of whether you start off slowly with small amounts or develop an aggressive savings strategy, everyone has an equal opportunity to grow their savings steadily and securely with competitive interest rates, compound interest and FDIC insurance.
Following are some key benefits to savings accounts and tips for choosing the right account for you:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures money in savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market deposit accounts up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank or institution. Your funds couldn't be safer: the FDIC says no depositor has lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds since it was established in 1933.
Secure, steady growth
It's hard to beat the security and stability of a savings deposit account. You'll never lose money, and with competitive rates and compound interest - which provides interest on the total account balance not just what you have deposited - your funds are sure to grow. And many banks now compound interest daily, which helps your savings grow even faster.
Savings or CDs?
In general, CDs offer better interest rates for a set term. If you are fairly certain you won't need the money for six months or more, you may want to consider a high yield CD, which offers a better interest rate for committing to leaving your money in a bank for a longer term.
Some banks offer flexibility in CDs through no penalty CDs, or "bump up CDs," which allow consumers to take advantage of a higher rate if the institution's rates rise during the CD's term. If you want the benefits of a longer term, high yield CD, but aren't sure if you'll need to access the money in the short term, try a CD ladder.
Savings and Money Market Accounts are also a good bet. They are relatively immune to dramatic interest fluctuations, and offer greater flexibility for savers who might need to access their cash.
Convenience and accessibility
It is fairly easy to open an account at an online bank, and they frequently offer great rates since there are no branches to maintain. Most bank accounts are now electronically accessible and allow customers to deposit, withdraw or transfer money online or via a mobile app. A good strategy is to "set it and forget it," by using direct deposit or recurring transfers to automate your savings.
Consumers we surveyed say the effect savings has on happiness continues to grow as savings accumulate, so the sooner you get started, the better off you'll be financially, and perhaps emotionally as well.