By Fran O’Rourke – KeyBank Capital Region Market President
Do you ever find yourself wondering, “Should I keep money in savings or checking?” It’s a common question, asked by many. Some people like to keep cash easily accessible to pay bills and in case of emergencies – but leaving too much cash in a checking account means that you may be missing out on earning interest. And while savings and checking are the two most common types of bank accounts, it’s good to consider all of the options.
When to Use a Checking Account
A checking account is a vital part of your financial life — think of it as your main bank account. It’s where your salary or wages get deposited, and it’s the account you use to make everyday purchases and pay your bills. Most checking accounts allow a nearly limitless number of transactions in the form of paper or electronic checks, debit card use, and automatic transfers. In exchange for this convenience, you usually earn little or no interest on your balance. Try to keep one or two months’ worth of living expenses in this account — in case of emergencies and also to avoid maintenance or overdraft fees.
When to Use a Savings Account
After covering your immediate living expenses with the money in your checking account, it’s wise to store any extra funds in a savings account that offers a higher interest rate. In exchange, savings accounts typically limit the number of transactions you can make per month. For example, you may be limited to six per month before any fees apply. A savings account is the perfect place to store an emergency fund of, ideally, three to six months’ worth of living expenses. It’s also a good place to save for short-term goals, like a new car, a dream vacation, or a down payment for a house. For more significant savings balances (think $5,000 or more), consider using a money market savings account that normally offers a higher interest rate.
Other Accounts to Consider
If you have extra cash after covering immediate living expenses, a substantial emergency fund, and short-term goals, consider these accounts:
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Even if you’re already contributing to a 401(k) plan through work, you can still save up to $5,500 a year in a traditional or Roth IRA. Funding it with mutual funds will likely produce higher returns but withdrawing before age 59½ usually incurs hefty tax penalties.
College Savings Accounts: If you have kids, it’s never too early to start saving for their education. Two options to help you save include state-run 529 college plan accounts, which offer high contribution limits, and Coverdell Education Savings accounts; these offer investment flexibility and a contribution limit of $2,000 per year. Either account will help you save on your taxes while accumulating money through interest.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs): If you have extra money that you don’t anticipate needing for a fixed period, then consider a CD. These accounts render your money inaccessible for as little as seven days to as long as ten years. In exchange, they usually offer a higher interest rate than regular savings accounts. You’ll usually pay a penalty if you withdraw the money early.
Savings and checking accounts are the foundation of personal banking; using them in combination allows you to manage your basic financial needs. As you set financial goals, you’ll have a better idea of what other types of bank accounts to use.
About the author: Fran O’Rourke is the President of KeyBank’s Capital Region Market. She may be reached at either 518-257-8733 or [email protected].
Why Relationships Matter with Your Bank
How invested are you in your relationship with your bank? Do you have a single checking account and leave it at that, or do you use a variety of financial products and services like investment accounts, personal loans, and a mortgage?
There are a lot of benefits to a multi-faceted relationship when a single bank is your go-to for all of your financial needs. The more your bank gets to know you, the more you can gain from it.
KeyBank rewards customers who build deeper relationships with their bank. This can be as easy as opening a savings or investment account to go with the checking account you’ve already been using. Each time you open an account or apply for a loan, you’re strengthening that relationship. Using your bank’s services on a regular basis helps them learn more about what’s important to you and therefore provide you with a more personalized banking experience. Once that relationship is formed, your financial institution will have a good understanding of what your financial goals are, and they can help you pursue them with the kind of financial products that best fit your specific needs.
You’ll have access to the expertise of bank representatives and financial advisors. You can benefit from their knowledge as you make any financial decision — from opening a first savings account to investing for retirement. Using many different banking services with one bank is also a more convenient way to manage your money. Whether you choose to visit a branch or log in to the mobile app, you have an easy way to keep track of all your accounts at once. Transferring money between accounts or applying for a new loan is straightforward when you have a central place to manage your finances.