Saving money for the future is likely an important part of your financial planning, but not all savings goals are created equal. Short-term savings for things such as vacations or bigger purchases should be handled differently than long-term savings for college or retirement.
From savings accounts to mutual funds, there are many places to save your money. Finding the right one will insure you maximize your rate of return and keep your finances safely growing over time. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy. Use the following guide to help you decide where you should be starting your savings goal.
Short-Term Savings Options
There are two types of money market accounts: bank accounts or mutual funds. Money market bank accounts offer higher interest rates as compared to regular savings accounts, but they come with a few more restrictions, such as hefty minimum balances or limited withdrawals.
Money market mutual funds can be opened with an investment company. That company will invest your money in a variety of other short-term investments in order to achieve the greatest possible interest rate.
Certificates of Deposit
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) also offer higher interest rates than a typical savings account because of the fixed-term agreement. When you first open a CD, you’ll sign a contract stating the period of time the money will remain in the account, untouched. (You can generally add money, though with certain limitations.) This time period can range from months to years, but if you need to withdraw the money early you’ll pay a penalty.
Long-Term Savings Options
US government-issued savings bonds, which help to cover the countries borrowing needs, don’t reach maturity – or their full value – for 20-30 years. Bonds collect interest every six months and can be cashed before the date of maturity at its current value.
Many employers offer 401K plans to help their employees save for retirement. You can choose a percentage of your pre-tax paycheck to be directly invested in the 401k, and many employees will match the amount (to a usually pre-specified amount). You can use your 401k to save for retirement, or invest it to your liking.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
There are many types of IRAs that you can use to save for retirement. Most accounts have a maximum yearly contribution, which you can deduct from your taxable income when filing your taxes. When you reach retirement, you can withdraw your money tax-free.
A 529 plan is specifically designed to save for a college education. The invested money can be taken out tax-free, but it must be spent on higher education. A 529 has no expiration date, so if the intended beneficiary decides not to go to college, the plan can be transferred to another family member later on.
Have you used any of these savings options? If so, which ones? Help fellow PerkStreeters decide where they should put their money by sharing your insight below.
Jessica Bosari is a PerkStreet Customer Columnist, as well as the Site Manager and Editor for billeater a blog with money-saving tips to lower your bills. When she’s not gathering money-saving tips, Jessica is feeding her geeky side with sci-fi movies, tech gadgets, useful apps and productivity tricks, just to keep things interesting. Read more of Jessica’s great financial advice on Perkstreet’s blog, or view her other money-saving tips at billeater.com.