In defense of the savings account
OK, savings accounts are about as sexy as Snuggies.
But you know what? They're also warm, cuddly -- and if you play them right, they can still bust a surprising move or two to compensate for their current abysmal interest rates.
The thing I like best about my savings account is ease of access. Because it's linked to all of my other accounts, including my brokerage account, I can lend to and borrow from my savings in five mouse clicks max from anywhere at any time.
That comes in handy if I'm reconciling my checking account after paying the monthly bills and realize I've come up a little short.
Here are some other easy-access features of the humble savings account that deserve a shout-out:
Automatic deposit: If you really want to squeak every cent of interest out of your bank, have your employer automatically deposit your paycheck into your savings account instead of your checking account. Some employers and banks also allow you to split your paycheck auto-deposit between checking and savings. Keep it in mind for your electronic federal income tax refund as well.
Recurring transfer: At the beginning of every month, my bank automatically transfers a set dollar amount from my checking account into my savings account. I've been doing this for years. It's basically the lazy man's sweep account -- without the fees.
Auto bill pay: Though it's not as prevalent as auto pay through debit accounts, many vendors, including home and auto insurers, now allow you to pay bills and premiums electronically from your savings account. If you use automatic deposit and recurring transfer wisely, you could keep that monthly chunk you know you owe in your interest-bearing savings account for three weeks out of every month.
ATM transactions: Did you know you can link your ATM card to your savings account? This can come in handy if you've red-lined your checking account and need cash during nonbanking hours.
Teller withdrawals: Of course, you can always go old-school and tap your savings account at the teller window. Just be sure to limit your total savings withdrawals to six per month, which is the limit the Federal Reserve places on interest-bearing accounts.
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