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Savings Accounts

Even if you've not fully paid off your consumer debt, it's still a good idea to set aside some of your monthly surplus for building a savings reserve. Make it a priority to set aside three to six months living expenses for emergencies. We suggest $10,000 as a starting point, but it's your call. After that, you may want to begin accumulating funds for a major purchase you are planning (such as a car).

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By Matt Bell
The rollout of the Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—has dominated the health insurance headlines for some time, creating much confusion and concern. But there is one health insurance-related bright spot emerging from the fray: the health savings account. Those who qualify receive a triple dip of tax benefits, and some can even use an HSA as a "super-IRA" for additional retirement savings.
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By Matt Bell
Recent years have been tough on savers. Savings accounts, money market funds, and CDs just don't pay much in the way of interest. That has given rise to some aggressive—even misleading—advertising for supposedly high-rate CDs. We take a closer look at such CDs and show you how to avoid this bait-and-switch technique.
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By Matt Bell
The roughly 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed during the recent government shutdown experienced something the rest of us hope we'll never have to go through — a sudden test of financial emergency preparedness. However, very few of us are completely immune to that possibility. That's why it's wise to take a financial stress test before such a calamity actually happens. This article will show you how.
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By Austin Pryor
Of all the many things we can do with money, saving it is arguably the least interesting. There's just nothing very captivating about dutifully tucking hard-earned cash into an account paying a minuscule amount of interest. But, it turns out that a savings account is good for our health and our relationships, and is a necessary precursor to investing.
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By Mark Biller and Matt Bell
Savers haven't had many attractive places to park their cash in recent years. That has tempted some to consider a home equity line of credit or even their credit cards as their emergency fund. We explain why these emergency fund alternatives are especially tenuous right now and why old-fashioned savings is more important than ever.
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By Matt Bell
Building a savings account has never been the most exciting thing you can do with money. And with interest rates barely registering a pulse, it has become an especially thankless task. But don't despair. There are still at least two good options for savers.
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By Austin Pryor and Mark Biller
Bonds have been all the rage in recent years, with the performance of long-term bonds even outpacing stocks. But it's important to remember how bonds are impacted by rising and falling interest rates. The Fed's promise to keep rates low doesn't necessarily mean that all bonds will be safe.
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By Joseph Slife
The banking industry has been front and center ever since the financial crisis exploded in 2008. More than 450 banks have failed since 2008. Should you be concerned? Here's how to protect your savings stash.
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By Matt Bell
Big banks haven't done themselves any favors recently. From new debit card fees to huge investments gone bad, it's not surprising that many customers are looking elsewhere for their banking needs. Where are they going? Credit unions.
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By Matt Bell
The only thing worse than the low rates being offered to savers these days is the confusing terminology used to define those rates. Here's your guide to understanding terms such as APY, 7-Day Yield, and more.
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By Matt Bell
When it comes to saving money, the Bible warns against two types of foolishness: not saving anything, and saving too much. Somewhere in between, there's a wise balance to be found.
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By Matthew Pryor
With interest rates at traditional brick-and-mortar banks lower than low these days, what's a saver to do? Go online, friend, go online! Internet banks may not give you a free donut and a cup of bad coffee every time you visit, but they very likely will give you a better interest rate.
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By Matthew Pryor
How do online-only banks provide better yields for savers, and should you be concerned about safety risks when banking online?
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By Matthew Pryor
The use of online banking has exploded in recent years. What's behind the surge in client interest, and more importantly, does online banking offer anything you should be interested in?
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By Michael Cave, CLU, ChFC
How would you like to earn 14% on your savings this year? That's right, the same savings currently earning less than 1% in your money market account. We explain how to take advantage of this opportunity for big returns year after year.
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By Austin Pryor
Looking for a positive financial resolution for 2012? How about boosting your savings! We have three great suggestions to help you.
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By Norman W. Bunn
Chafing over the low yields available today on traditional savings products? If you have at least a three-year time horizon, you might want to consider Lending Club.
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By Austin Pryor
Investors often believe the returns from their bond funds are lower than they actually are. The cause of this confusion is usually their reinvested monthly dividends. We walk through an example illustrating how this typically occurs.
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By Mark Biller
For many years, money market funds were a staple of SMI's saving recommendations. But since the financial crisis of 2008, the appeal of money market funds has diminished. Read on for our latest take on the best home for your savings dollars.
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By Vicki Mosher / Former SMI Staff
It's a lesson we often only recognize in hindsight: once the emergency strikes, it's too late to prepare. This first-hand account illustrates why an emergency fund is one of the cornerstones of a healthy financial foundation.
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By Mark Biller and Joseph Slife
Choosing a savings vehicle based on interest-rate expectations is a fool's errand, because no one can know when rates will change or by how much. SMI suggests a better approach.
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By Austin Pryor and Joseph Slife
A common approach to getting more interest on your savings is to build a "savings ladder" using CDs from banks and credit unions. When rates are low, however, that strategy needs a little fine tuning.
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By Austin Pryor
Despite your best intentions, it's easy to rationalize putting off starting to save. One solution is to set money aside automatically before you have the opportunity to spend it.
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By Joseph Slife with Mark Biller
When interest rates start to rise, savers who have money tied up in CDs or bond funds often get locked into below-market rates. If you play things right, however, the sting of below-market returns should pass quickly.
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By Joseph Slife
As money-fund rates continue to scrape bottom, new enhanced-cash funds may represent a reasonable tradeoff: slightly more yield for slightly more risk.
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By Joseph Slife
Washington's December tax deal will create a year-long 2% tax cut for most workers. But if you want even more in your paycheck, you just have to ask. Really.
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By Joseph Slife
It's not only wise to have an annual physical checkup, it's a good idea to have an annual financial checkup too. Thankfully, you can do the financial one yourself.
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By Wilson J. Humber
Here's a simple strategy for climbing out of debt and getting onto a path that leads to long-term financial health.
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By Joseph Slife
As new laws and regulations crimp bank revenues, it looks like one casualty is going to be the widespread availability of free checking. But here's the good news: even as some larger banks stop offering free accounts, smaller banks may begin to focus on free checking as a way to gain a competitive edge.
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By Craig Ford
The Bible tells us that while our actions are important, our motives are just as important. What are your motives for setting aside money for the future?
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By Austin Pryor with Joseph Slife
Two savings vehicles can have the same yield, yet end up with total returns that are quite different. Here's why.
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By Joseph Slife
Many employers are turning to Health Savings Accounts, combined with High-Deductible Health Plans, to hold down company insurance costs. This change can bode well for many employees too, allowing them to save on taxes while building a health care nest egg.
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By Austin Pryor with Joseph Slife
"Ginnie Mae" funds tend to offer returns about 1% per year higher than funds invested in high-quality short-term bonds. But be warned: this road to better yields can be a bumpy one.
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By Austin Pryor with Joseph Slife
Short-term bond funds pay higher yields than money-market funds and accounts — but they can suffer temporary losses when interest rates fluctuate. Still, it's rare for a short-term bond fund to lose money over a two-year period. That's what makes these funds good vehicles for longer-term savings.
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By Joseph Slife
If you invest in a longer-term CD and then interest rates rise, you'll be locked into a below-market rate. Ugh. Some banks have a solution: CDs that allow you to get a one-time rate increase.
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By Joseph Slife
Creating a series of dedicated savings accounts ("college fund," "new furniture fund," etc.) can help you achieve your savings goals. And in these days of easy-to-use online savings, managing multiple accounts is as simple as point and click.
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By Joseph Slife
With money-fund yields scraping bottom, millions of savers have moved up the risk ladder to bond funds. Should you?
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By Joseph Slife
Of the more than 9,000 state and federally chartered credit unions in the U.S., many are overtly Christian in their emphasis and use member deposits to fund Kingdom business.
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By Joseph Slife
The new regulations, prompted by a rare fund meltdown in 2008, are intended to make money-market funds safer.
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By Austin Pryor and Joseph Slife
In the midst of the money fund industry's worst year ever, the money-market funds we suggested for Level 2 savings performed better than the average MMF — for the 12th year in a row.
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By Austin Pryor and Joseph Slife
The "apparent" return on your savings doesn't necessarily tell you much. Rather, the key is how well your savings investments actually protect your net purchasing power. To determine that, you have to take into account the impact of taxes and inflation.
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