If you’ve racked up a nice sum of cash or recently came into a windfall (such as a work bonus or tax refund), you may wonder where to put that money. Should you just keep it in checking? Open a high-yield savings account? Invest it all in the stock market?
The answer will depend on how soon you think you’ll need the money and how much risk you’re willing to take. Here’s a look at seven places you might consider storing your extra cash.
Low-Risk Places to Put Cash
What follows are four types of bank accounts that provide safety, convenience, and (in some cases) a competitive interest rate.
If you want easy and regular access to your cash, you might consider keeping it in a checking account at a bank or credit union. These accounts keep your money safe, since they are federally insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution. They’re also highly liquid — they provide check-writing privileges, ATM access, and debit cards, and there’s no limit on how many withdrawals you can make per month.
Since checking accounts are designed for spending (not saving), however, they generally pay little to no interest. As a result, these accounts aren’t ideal for storing extra money you plan to use later — say a few months or years from now. Some checking accounts also charge monthly fees.
A savings account is an interest-bearing bank account that is designed for saving (and growing) your money rather than spending it. You can open a savings account at the same bank or credit union as your checking account, or explore many of the online-only banks now available.
Interest on a savings account is expressed as an annual percentage yield (APY). This is the rate you can earn on an account over a year and it includes compound interest (which is the interest you earn on interest added to your account throughout the year).
Like a checking account, the funds in a savings account are liquid. However, they are generally less accessible than the money in a checking account. You can’t write checks or use a debit card to draw money from your savings account. And, often, you are limited to six withdrawals per month. While the federal rule that limited savings accounts withdrawals to six per month was lifted in April 2020, many institutions still enforce the limit and will charge you a fee if you exceed the cap.
A traditional savings account may provide a little more interest than a checking account. However, rates are generally low.
Money Market Account
A money market account is a type of savings account that comes with some of the features of a checking account, such as check-writing privileges and debit cards. You can find money market accounts at credit unions and traditional and online banks.
These hybrid accounts typically pay a higher APY than you can get with a checking account or traditional savings account. However, they often come with higher initial deposit requirements, along with higher ongoing balance requirements to avoid fees. Like other savings accounts, your money is typically insured and you may be limited to six withdrawals per month.
High-Yield Savings Account
High-yield savings accounts, typically offered by credit unions and online banks, are accounts that typically pay a substantially higher APY than the national average of traditional savings accounts. They generally also have low or no fees.
Other than that, these accounts function like regular savings accounts. They are typically federally insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution, should the bank or credit union fail. They also allow you to make withdrawals and transfers as needed, though your bank may limit you to six withdrawals per month.
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Higher-Risk Places to Put Cash
If you already have a solid emergency fund, have paid down any high-interest debt, and are contributing to your 401(k) at work (at least up to any employer match), you may want to consider longer-term, higher risk investment options with your extra cash.
Stocks are a type of security that gives you a share of ownership in a specific company. When you buy stock, you have the potential to grow your money in two different ways. One is through appreciation of the stock’s price (or value). In addition, you may be able to earn dividends if the company distributes a portion of its earnings to stockholders.
While stocks offer a great potential for growth, they also come with significant risk. Stock prices can drop significantly in a short time, so it’s possible to lose money by investing in stocks.
Bonds are generally considered a lower-risk investment than stocks. With bonds, the company (or government agency or organization) issuing the bond acts as a borrower and you act as a lender, providing the issuer with money to fund projects or expansion efforts. In exchange, the issuer promises to pay you a rate of interest on top of the bond’s principal (your initial investment).
There are several kinds of bonds:
• Corporate. These are issued by private and public companies.
• Municipal. These are issued by states, cities, and counties.
• Treasury. These are issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on behalf of the federal government.
When you invest in bonds, you generally get a predictable stream of income through interest payments. If you hold onto the bond until it matures, you also get back the entire principal, so there’s minimal risk involved. However, typical returns for bonds tend to be much lower than typical returns for stocks. Many investors will use bonds to balance out higher-risk investment options, such as individual stocks.
Exchange-Traded Funds and Mutual Funds
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds offer a pool of securities, such as stocks and bonds, in one investment. You can pick and choose a few mutual funds and/or EFTs to create your own portfolio, or you can choose to go with a target date fund.
Target date funds offer an all-in-one solution by investing in a mix of stocks, bonds, and other investments that suit your goals and risk tolerance. Typically, these funds automatically become more conservative as the fund approaches its target date (such as your retirement age) and beyond. Keep in mind, however, that the principal you invest in an EFT or mutual fund is not guaranteed.
Where to put a stash of cash? A lot depends on how soon you’ll need the money and your tolerance for risk.
If you plan to use the money right away, you may want to go with a checking account. If you’re saving for a goal that is a few months or years away, you might consider putting the money in a high-yield savings account or a money market account. For longer-term savings goals (at least five years off), investing in the market could make sense.
If you’re not exactly sure when you’ll need the money, you may want to consider a SoFi Checking and Savings Account. With SoFi, you can earn a competitive APY and save and spend, all in one account. And SoFi Checking and Savings doesn’t have any account fees which could eat away at your extra cash.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
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