Financial experts say the best place to keep emergency funds is in a savings account, but since most banks offer very low interest rates, picking the best one can be a challenge. YNN's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
You've saved your money and built up an emergency fund that’s hefty enough to cover six months of expenses, but the question remains: where do you stash the cash?
YNN spoke with three experts and got one answer: the bank, or more specifically, a top-yielding savings account.
That presents a challenge, though. Most savings accounts don’t yield very much anymore.
“The average savings account right now yields about 0.1 percent,” says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
Even if you're lucky enough to find an account paying slightly above average, certified public accountant Michael Goodman of Wealthstream Advisors says the returns will still be minimal.
“If you have $1,000 in the bank and you are earning half a point or 0.5 percent interest, you're talking about $5 of interest for the whole year. Not per day. Not per month. The whole year,” says Goodman.
In this sea of dismally low rates, AnnaMaria Andriotis of Smartmoney.com says it's up to consumers to fish around for the highest of the low.
“Capital One is offering an interest rate of 1 percent on its high yield checking account. Now, 1 percent a few years ago would have sounded pretty sad, pretty pathetic, right? But right now, 1 percent is the best rate you can find at a bank,” says Andriotis.
As for a savings account, McBride says the best rates can be found at Internet-based institutions. A quick search finds the top yield at .99 percent, which is still well above that average of 0.1.
“Now that’s not a number that’s gonna knock anyone’s socks off, but keep in mind you’re gonna earn nine times as much interest in that account as you would if you had just settled for average,” says McBride.
Given these low rates, you may be tempted to seek a higher return elsewhere, but while you might make more by putting your money in the stock market, you also run the risk of losing it, which is why Goodman says Wall Street is no place for your emergency reserve—the one area of savings where the rate of return isn't what matters.
“What you are earning here is not interest. What you are earning is here is peace of mind, and what you should be focusing on is that you know that it's going to be there, the security and safety and peace of mind knowing that your money is safe, not the interest rate that you're earning,” says Goodman.