Resolutions are common at the beginning of a new year, and while they can run the gamut from weight loss to a reduction in screen time, one common goal is to save money. This resolution is good for your finances and sets you up for future success, but it can be challenging to know where to start.
One crucial aspect of saving money is the account you choose. That may seem simple: You can just pick a bank and open an account, right? Not quite. Every savings account includes different interest rates, fees, terms, and perks. To find the best savings account for you and your goals, there are a few things to consider.
First, take a step back and think about your savings goals and priorities. Do you want to save up for a specific purchase, like a car or a home? Maybe you’re trying to sock away funds for a child’s college tuition. Or perhaps you just want to build yourself a financial safety net in case of emergencies. Your goals will help determine what kind of savings account you should get, so define your priorities before you start searching for a bank.
Saving can be difficult, especially when you’re starting out, so think about what kinds of features you might want. For example, if you want the convenience of using the same bank where you already have accounts, you can start there. But if you are worried that you might dip into your savings if it’s too easy to access, you might want to open it with a different bank that makes it more difficult to transfer money from savings to checking.
Avoid the temptation to make things quick and easy by picking the first bank you find. Take your time and shop around, comparing each bank’s benefits and perks. Generally speaking, you want to find the highest-possible interest rate, or one that has a high annual percentage yield. Standard savings accounts have a low interest rate, usually 0.5% or less, but some offer higher rates for the first year or other specials that can help you boost your savings.
Check Your Eligibility
Most banks require some kind of identification and proof of address, such as a bill from another institution, like a utility provider or insurance company, to open an account. You can use documents like a government ID, driver’s license, passport, or Social Security card. In addition, some financial institutions, like credit unions, require that you become a member before opening an account, and these usually require an affiliation of some kind, such as living in a certain area or working in a specific industry.
As with any kind of financial decision, read the fine print before you open any savings account. Make sure you understand the rules around fees and limitations of withdrawals and deposits, and find out if there is a minimum balance requirement. In addition to knowing the interest rate that the account carries, you should understand the different kinds that could be applied, such as introductory, variable, and fixed, and how often the interest will be compounded.
Establishing or increasing your savings is a worthwhile goal, and you and your family will be glad you took the steps to do so down the road. With a little bit of research and careful planning, you can find the bank account that best suits your priorities and preferences and one that helps your money go further.