Most Americans do not have enough in savings to help them if something bad happens; job loss, medical emergencies, etc. There are disagreements about how much you need in savings-9 months of your salary? 6 months? Regardless, it’s hard for most people to save when living paycheck to paycheck. Even worse, most people don’t truly understand the concepts involved in saving.
Our friends at Practical Money Skills offers basic advice that can guide anyone through the process of saving enough to survive emergencies. You not only want to think about the money you’ll need in the future, you also want to look at how your money ca actually make you even more money by just sitting in the bank.
We all know banks offer interest. This is how they get you to give them your money. And, remember, the FDIC guarantees the money, up to a certain amount…so giving your money to the bank is not only a great way to earn more if it, it’s risk free!
Here’s how your money pile gets larger by just sitting around.
At first, interest might not seem like a lot of money. But it grows over time. And it can add up very quickly – thanks to a powerful moneymaking tool known as compound interest.
Put simply, this is interest earned on interest.
Let’s look again at that $100 in an account earning 6% interest. The $106 you have after the first year would earn 6% again the next year — $6.36, or a 36 cent increase. After you add that to the total, you would have $112.36. And that new total will then earn 6% the following year — $6.74, another increase.
As long as you leave the money in there, it will keep earning more. If you left that same $100 in a 6% interest account for 40 years, you’d have $1,028, and your annual interest earnings would be more than $50 per year.
The Rule of 72
One simple way to see the power of compound interest is through the “rule of 72.” It’s a formula for figuring out how quickly your money will double if left alone in an interest bearing account.
All you have to do is divide 72 by the interest rate. So if your rate is 6%, divide 72 by 6. At that rate, it will take 12 years to double your money.
Still not impressed? Sure, 12 years is a long time to double your money. But that’s only if you put your money in once and leave it. If you keep contributing, your money will really grow.
Consider that 6% account one more time. If you were to put in another $100 each year for 40 years, you’d wind up with $17,433 and you’d be earning more than $1,000 in interest.
It really pays to start saving early and regularly.
Read the Fine Print
Just as banks give, they can take away. If you’re not careful, penalties and fees can cut into your interest. Sometimes they even eat into your actual savings. So it’s important to read the fine print when you open an account so you can know where the potential pitfalls might lie.
Watch out for:
- Fees, charges, and penalties. These are usually based on minimum balance requirements, but they can also be attached to transactions such as ATM withdrawals and online transfers.
- Interest thresholds. Some accounts require minimum balances before they even begin paying interest.
- Variable interest rates. Some accounts – most often money-market accounts – will pay different interest rates for different size balances, with higher balances earning higher rates.