How to save money for things you want

Most everyone can use a savings account. While your checking account should be a pit stop for your money, a savings account is a holding cell for your cash until you’re ready to spend it on your goals. It’s liquid, accessible, and a safe place to keep the money you might need in the next few years.

That said, there are a lot of options for savings accounts. They’re offered by a variety of institutions, from traditional brick-and-mortar banks to online-only banking service — and they’re all a little different.

For a starting point on your savings account research, Insider compiled a list of the best high-yield savings accounts available. They’re all fee-free and sorted by several factors, including the highest interest rate, easiest to use, and best overall.

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There are a few things you’ll want to consider to figure out which savings account you should open:

1. Decide how you’ll use it

First, determine how you want to use the money you’re saving. Because they’re liquid, savings accounts are great places to build emergency funds. They’re also ideal for down payment savings for a future home purchase, especially if you’re planning to buy in the next few years. Other uses for high-yield savings accounts include saving for travel funds, pet expenses, or home repairs.

If you’re saving for multiple goals, it might be worth finding a savings account that that allows you to create goals within the account. Ally’s high-yield savings account, for instance, allow you to make buckets for your savings, and it can be helpful for anyone who wants to work towards multiple goals at once.

Also, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t need to move the money around too much. As a general rule savings are better left alone, but withdrawals from savings accounts are limited to six per month by federal regulation. This requirement has been waived by many financial institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you think you’ll need to make withdrawals more than six times per month, you might want a cash account — like those offered by Wealthfront and Betterment — instead. While it’s technically a different product and therefore isn’t subject to the six-withdrawals-a-month rule, it functions virtually the same as high-yield savings.

Finally, consider how long you plan to save — if your goal is more than five years away, you might want to invest your money instead.

2. Figure out what’s important to you

If you really value a good mobile experience and ease of access, you might choose a bank with a great mobile app. If customer service is important to you, you’ll want to choose a bank known for excellent customer service. If you really need to have the best interest rate out there, you might skip right to the account with the highest APY.

What you want from your experience will be a big factor in which bank account is right for you. Take a few minutes to think about what features your ideal savings account includes.

3. Decide whether you want to use your existing bank

You might want to consider where you keep other savings and checking accounts . Do you want your new one to be easy to access and in the same place as your other accounts? If so, making a savings account at the bank you already use might be ideal. But, if you think that easy access means you’ll be tempted to spend it, you might want to put it somewhere else.

4. Consider interest rates

When it comes to savings accounts, take a close look at high-yield savings accounts. These savings accounts are the same as a traditional savings account, with one key difference: They allow your money to grow with much greater interest rates than traditional accounts.

Traditional savings accounts do earn interest, but generally very little. According to the FDIC, the average savings account has a .06% interest rate. A high-yield savings account will help your money grow much faster, earning 0.5% interest per year. This isn’t the kind of growth that will earn you a fortune, but consider it compared to the average savings account interest rate — it’s about eight times more.

It’s worth noting that interest rates can change, generally alongside the Federal Reserve’s prime rate. So while the interest rate is important, a few tenths of a percent shouldn’t be your sole reason for choosing a savings account.

5. Read the fine print for fees

If you tend to glaze over the fine print, now is the time to break that habit. Read the disclosures and terms of the account you’re considering opening. Look for:

  • Minimum balances or deposits: You may need to keep your account above a certain balance to avoid fees, or need a certain amount to start the account. If these things don’t line up with your expectations, you might want to keep looking — plenty of banks offer savings accounts with no minimum balance required.
  • Any monthly fees: Having a monthly maintenance fee on your savings account almost defeats the purpose. After all, you want your money to grow here. There are many fee-free high-yield savings account options out there.

6. Don’t put too much pressure on your decision

If you’re having trouble deciding, the good news is that you probably can’t go too wrong. As long as you open an account with a reputable bank that earns high-yield interest and that doesn’t have any monthly fees, chances are you have a good account.

There’s not too much pressure here, as you’ll be able to access or move your money any time, and there’s no long-term commitment. Plus, you can open as many savings accounts as you’d like, so you’re not tied to just one.

There are lots of great options for savings accounts these days. Find one that you know you’ll use and love, and that’s the best option for you.

By Deacon Hayes Updated January 17, 2021

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How to save money for things you want

If you are trying to save money, reducing your electric bill can be a huge help.

It is amazing how much electricity cost these days. In order to help you save money, I will share with you proven ways that you can slash your bill each month.

In This Article

Top Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

I have ten ways that you can save money on your electricity bill that will help you keep your utility expenses low.

1. Turn off your lights when you leave

I can’t tell you how many times I have left my house and the lights were still on. Lights are a small portion of your bill, however, it can add up over time.

Make it a habit to turn the lights off as you leave a room so that you can reduce your bill one kilowatt at a time.

Plus, change out those old light bulbs for LED bulbs. They will save you money in the long run.

2. Unplug electronics when done

For instance, if you use a blender to make a shake in the morning, consider unplugging until you need to use it again.

Experts call this energy usage type a “phantom load” or “vampire usage.” Each electric device consumes a small amount of energy even if you don’t use the device. Unplugging electronics reduces the phantom load.

For example, one game console can draw 26 annual kilowatt-hours. This usage can increase your annual electric bill by $5, according to the Take Control and Save calculator.

There is no reason to leave it plugged in if you are not going to use it until the next day.

Many utilities offer a home energy audit. Some audits have a small fee and a professional evaluates your home and provides recommendations. You can also perform a self-audit to look for places to reduce electricity usage.

3. Use appliances in the off peak times

Your major appliances can be a huge drain on your electric bill. Do your laundry and wash your dishes during the off-peak hours. Doing so helps you capitalize on the lower rates from the electricity companies.

4. Seal all of your doors

This year I noticed that there was some sun peaking through the edges of our front and back door. Then I realized that the air outside was also coming through those doors. I then went and put some foam tape around the door frame.

That sealed it to keep the cool air from coming in. Now it takes less energy to heat our home in the winters and less A/C to cool the home during the summers.

Other places in the house to weatherize include:

  • Windows: Caulk and add weatherstripping
  • Air ducts: Clean ducts and repair leaks
  • Attic: Add insulation to the attic, attic door and garage door
  • Water heater: Install an insulated tank wrap

In the winter months, you may also add a plastic window covering to your single-pane windows. This temporary measure prevents drafts and is cheaper than replacing windows.

5. Install a programmable thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat is one of the best ways to save on your electricity as you can set it and forget it.

Most programmable thermostats will let you set the temperature for the mornings, afternoons, and evenings so you don’t have to mess with it again.

“Smart” programmable thermostats sync with your smartphone. You can monitor the current house temperature and adjust the thermostat from your phone.

When you’re away from home, you keep your house a few degrees cooler in the winter (or warmer in the summer). You may also time your heating and cooling around the peak and off-peak hours.

6. Shop around for a better price

In some markets, you have multiple electricity providers. If so, you can compare prices and choose the cheapest option.

Utility providers may also offer these discount programs:

  • Paperless billing
  • Peak and off-peak pricing plans
  • Needs-based discount programs
  • Levelized billing
  • Weatherization assistance
  • Recycle old appliances

Levelized billing doesn’t necessarily reduce your current electric costs but can help you avoid surprise expensive bills. The utility averages your annual usage for the last 12 months and you pay the average amount for the next year.

7. Don’t leave the door open

Have you ever heard the expression, “don’t heat the outside”? If so, then you are familiar with this concept.

If you haven’t, it basically means that you are spending money to heat the outdoors which we all know is a waste of money.

8. Turn your computer off

If you use your computer at select times throughout the day, this is probably a good solution.

If you use it for work throughout the day, then sleep mode is probably the most effective setting for you.

9. Buy a battery operated alarm clock

Not that an alarm clock takes a lot of electricity, but if you want to get extreme, then this could be a good option.

You could even go one step further and just use your cell phone as an alarm. You have to charge it anyway, so why not use it as an alarm?

10. Wash your dishes by hand

Talking about extreme, how about letting your dishwasher rest and washing your dishes by hand. I know that seems like a foreign concept to many of us in the United States but it still a common practice in many countries.

Other easy ways to use appliances less frequently include:

  • Doing large laundry loads instead of multiple, small loads
  • Wash clothes in cold water only
  • Drying clothes with a clothesline
  • Reduce thermostat setting on the hot water heater
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use LED light bulbs
  • Install dimmer switches and smart power strips

Summary

When you are trying to save money, every little bit helps. If you follow these tips you are well on your way to reducing your electric bill and having more money to do what you want with.

Have you saved money on your electricity bill? If, so what did you do?