Saving money give you a cushion against bad financial weather and serves as your foundation for a comfortable retirement. Yet most Americans don’t have enough savings to cope with a $1,000 emergency, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey. Only 39 percent of those surveyed said they could rely on savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 hit. While 34 percent of the surveyed households were hit with an unexpected expense during the past year, the average expense was not $1,000 but at least a calamitous $2,500.
Preparing for emergencies is the reason financial experts recommend setting aside three to six months of living expenses. Savers may cover these bases, but often they don’t pay attention to how much interest they’re earning on their accounts.
Make money you already have work for you by earning the highest rates. You don’t expect to get rich off your savings account when there’s not a big difference between an annual percentage yield of 0.75 percent and 1.5 percent. But even that small amount can add up over time and put you on track toward affording the life you want.
Here are some tips to consider when you’re eager to earn more interest on your savings.
- Research to find the best rates
You’ll need to find the most competitive rates if you want a higher yield. The best savings accounts as of early November this year paid more than 2.2 percent APY. Compare that top rate to the typical savings account with a $10,000 minimum deposit, which paid just 0.25 percent APY, according to Bankrate’s national survey of banks and thrifts. A competitive offer should be well above the national average.
- Comparison shop
Comparing rates is key to earning more interest on your savings account. Start with local credit unions. These institutions are not-for-profits, and they may pay more. Next, move on to checking out online banks. Many can offer higher yields because they don’t have to pay the overhead that comes with brick-and-mortar branches.
Set up a spreadsheet to compare various offerings so you can find the one that best aligns with your goals. Go online before you open a new account to find savings calculators that will help you calculate your potential earnings.
- Don’t settle for your corner bank
If a better yield is your goal, you’ll need to recognize that your friendly local bank may not be the best choice. Be prepared to look at other financial institutions.
- Check the fine print
You may discover that some of the high-yield savings accounts offer so-called “teaser” rates that are only temporary and set to expire within a few months. Skip those and select a bank with an established track record of offering savers great rates.
Check to see if the bank sets a minimum balance or other criteria that savers must meet to get the best savings account rate. Some require savers to open new accounts with at least $5,000 or $10,000.
- Decide if the hassle is worth it
Recognize that you’ll have to keep track of each new account. You may decide that opening multiple accounts in different places is just not be worth the trouble.