Alternatives to Traditional Savings Accounts ::

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Hey, pal, where’s your money?

Back in 2005 (line up “Hollaback Lady” and “Considering that U Been Gone”), you could put your money in a high-interest cost savings account and earn 5 % or even more, and FDIC insurance made it as close to risk-free as anything ever before enters finance.

Well, you understand what occurred next. In 2008, when the financial world fell apart, main banks around the world dropped rate of interest to try and increase the economy.

When I started writing this column, in 2009, individuals were stating interest rates were so low they couldn’t go any lower. Then they went lower.

For years I’ve actually been singing (to the tune of “Because U Been Gone”) the applauds of Series I US Cost savings Bonds, or I-bonds for brief.

Now that some interest rates are starting to go up for a modification, are I-bonds still an excellent selection for your money cost savings? Read on.

Note: I am only taking a look at FDIC-insured (or equivalent) items today. Yes, I know about Financing Club, bond funds, REITs, MLPs, and other products that let you take danger in the pursuit of a larger reward.

All are suitable additions to a portfolio in the right circumstance, however they are not savings account options.

The I is for inflation

Here’s a brief refresher on how I-bonds work and why you may want to possess them. (I possess a lot of them.)

  • I-bonds are released by the United States Treasury and can be bought online at TreasuryDirect. gov. You can purchase up to $10,000 per person per year, in any denominations you desire above a $25 minimum.
  • I-bonds pay an interest rate equal to the rate of inflation, as gauged by the Consumer Rate Index. This dimension includes the rate of food, energy, housing, health care, and a bunch of other things. It mightn’t match your very own personal rate of inflation, however it’s a pretty good measure.
  • The I-bond interest rate readjusts every 6 months and is presently 1.18 %. Based on current inflation reports, the rate will probably increase in November, however that’s a guess, not a guarantee.
  • I-bonds have some nice tax features. You do not have to pay tax on them every year, like a CD– only when you cash them in. They are exempt from state and local income tax. And if you use them to pay for university, the interest is not taxed at all.
  • You’ve to hold onto an I-bond for at least a year. And if you cash it in before 5 years are up, you’ll pay a small penalty (3 months interest).

I-bonds have sometimes paid much higher interest than CDs. For a six-month duration in 2011, for example, they were paying 4.6 %. Today, no such luck.

About those CDs

According to, with a $500 minimum financial investment, the best 1-year CD rate is 1.05 % and the best 5-year rate is 2.0 %.

Compared to I-bonds, CDs are less tax-advantaged and aren’t inflation-indexed, makings them somewhat riskier.

If you want to get your money out of a CD prior to the term is up, you’ll pay a charge, usually 6 to YEAR interest.

I likewise took a look at online savings accounts, which clearly provide the most versatility: you can move cash in and out whenever without … wait, why am I explaining how a savings account works?

The best interest rate you can get right now has to do with 0.9 %. Banks can adjust their savings account rates up or down any time, so unlike a CD, that rate is not guaranteed to last more than a month.

Still, you do not pay much for the included adaptability. On a $10,000 deposit, over one year, the distinction in between 1.05 % APY and 0.9 % APY is $15.

Getting clippy with it

Are you a coupon-clipper or a credit card rewards maven?

If so, you are most likely comfy with the idea of jumping with a few hoops to save even more cash. For you, I’ve a couple more savings ideas.

Reward checking accounts (often branded as Kasasa checking) pay high interest (up to 4 %, although 2 % is more common) on a restricted balance (typically $10,000 or less) if you play together with their requirements and restrictions.

These generally include a minimum number of debit transactions per month, direct deposit, and some combination of e-statements, electronic banking, and online costs pay.

Some banks offer a hybrid savings account/prepaid debit product (one brand is Mango) that pays an extremely high interest rate (6 %) on a balance of $5000 or less.

The hoops for this one are flaming: you need to set up direct deposit, manage the prepaid and cost savings account elements, and pay a monthly fee. However the high interest is genuine.

If you want to give it a try, Harry Sit of The Finance Enthusiast blog site explains how to do it.

Why I still love I-bonds

Here’s why I still think I-bonds are your best default cash savings tool.

  • They are low-maintenance. As soon as you have established your TreasuryDirect account, it’s easy to purchase I-bonds whenever, and unlike CDs, you don’t need to roll them over, because you can hold them for up to 30 years. And you do not need to report the interest on your income tax return till you offer.
  • The interest rate is constantly competitive. Yes, you can most likely beat I-bonds by scrupulously shopping around advantageous CD rates. But since I-bonds track the inflation rate, it’s like having the government shop around for a pretty good (and sometimes the best) rate every 6 months, at no fee.
  • Cashing in I-bonds is just convoluted enough to dissuade impulse spending. It’s not difficult, by any methods, however you’ve to log into TreasuryDirect, choose which bond to cash in and the amount of to take out, and potentially pay a small charge. It suffices to make you pause and state, nah, I can keep this money in cost savings for now. Which is, of course, exactly what cost savings bonds are created for.

That stated, if you’ve actually attempted a more innovative approach of upping the yield on your savings, I ‘d like to find out about it.