100 Tips for 2011
Greg McBride
10 sweet saving tips for 2011

100 Tips for 2011 » 10 sweet saving tips for 2011

It might be the right year for you to start saving money for a variety of reasons -- emergencies, retirement, health care or a possible job loss. If you're already saving money, 2011 may be the year to revisit the return on your checking, savings and other accounts.

These tips will get you moving in the right direction.

Tip 1Start an emergency savings account 

The biggest barrier to saving is not being in the habit of saving. The best way to get in the habit is to pay yourself first by having money directly deposited from your paycheck or even your checking account into a dedicated emergency savings account. This can be done concurrently with other goals such as paying down debt or saving for retirement, not instead of those goals. You won't miss what you don't see, and putting your savings on autopilot is a great way to reinforce the savings habit when unplanned expenses inevitably come along and chew a hole in what you've saved. You're only one paycheck away from beginning to replenish your savings balance.
Tip 2Get a high-yield savings account 

OK, maybe these days "high-yield savings account" is a contradiction in terms, but there are three requirements when looking for a place to put your rainy day fund. It must be liquid, meaning you can get to the money whenever you need it. It must be free of investment risk. And you must earn a return that preserves your buying power against the erosive effect of inflation.

The top-yielding savings accounts and money market deposit accounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. meet all three of these requirements. And they can be obtained with little or no minimum deposit, and are available to consumers anywhere in the 50 states. Check Bankrate.com for the highest-yielding, FDIC-insured savings accounts available nationwide.

Tip 3Find a free checking account 

Having the wrong checking account can take hundreds of hard-earned dollars out of your pocket every year. The average interest-bearing checking account charges a monthly service fee of $13.04 and requires maintaining a balance of more than $3,800 at a near-zero rate of interest to avoid fees.

Instead, look for one of the many accounts that charge no monthly service fees or per-transaction fees, and don't require a minimum balance. Bankrate.com found that 65 percent of large banks and thrifts in markets around the country still offer a noninterest, free checking account. An additional 23 percent offer an account that can become free by signing up for direct deposit or using a debit card a handful of times per month.


Although large banks are jumping off the free-checking bandwagon, free checking accounts can still be found at smaller community banks, credit unions and online banks. Check out Bankrate.com's tips on avoiding fees and find a free checking account that meets your needs.


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