Score a sweet tax return? Resist the impulse to splurge on new stuff, and instead, shop around for a new bank account to stash your money in. That said, evaluating which checking or savings accounts have the highest interest rates, the lowest fees and charges, and the best perks can be a laborious process.
Luckily for us, WalletHub did the hard work for us: In search of the best offers, the personal finance website perused 50 popular online-only checking accounts, along with 480 savings and money market accounts from 233 online and branch-based banks and credit unions. According to them, the ones listed below can help penny-pinchers make the most of their savings.
One note: WalletHub limited their choices for best checking accounts to online-only ones, and many of their best savings account selections were also digital. If visiting a physical bank branch is still at the top of your priority list, those suggestions may not be the best options for you. However, keep in mind that by eliminating the cost of maintaining physical locations, online banks are able to provide customers with higher interest rates and lower or fewer fees—meaning they’re a good choice for those looking to avoid extra costs and grow their savings.
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With Obamacare on the chopping block and the Republicans’ new healthcare plan under debate, many Americans are unsure of what their health insurance may look like in 2018. Regardless of what happens to the exchange or the individual mandate, though, there are some pretty basic tips for keeping your health insurance costs low.
What steps can you take to decrease your health insurance costs? These tricks will work whether you’re shopping on the current healthcare exchange, looking at plans on a new exchange next year, or choosing between employer plans.
Bump up that deductible
There’s a reason high-deductible health insurance plans are becoming more popular and prevalent: they can actually be cheaper. Sure, it looks like a lot when you see that you could pay $5,000+ for non-premium healthcare costs in a year. But most people, especially healthy individuals, don’t hit that deductible unless an unexpected health emergency occurs.
As with home and auto insurance, when it comes to health insurance, your monthly premiums go down as your deductible goes up. Choosing a plan with a higher deductible will cut your monthly premiums down.
Basically, you’re taking something of a gamble. By choosing a higher deductible, you’re risking that you’ll pay more in the event of an unexpected health situation or one that requires a high level of care. In exchange, you’re paying less each month for the life of the insurance policy.
This can seem like a risky gamble, but if you do the math, high-deductible plans will often take less money out of your pocket even if you max them out!
Let’s say you opt for a plan with a $300 per month premium and a $6,800 deductible. That’s a really high deductible! But if you don’t have any health events for the year, you’re only out $3,600, give or take, in premium payments. If you have a health disaster and pay your out-of-pocket maximum, you’ll pay a total of $10,400.
Compare that to a $730 per month premium on a plan with a $1,000 deductible. You’ll pay at least $8,760 in premiums alone, even if you have no health events for the year. Even after you hit your deductible, you’ll still have to pay co-insurance for care received. So, a true health disaster could still land you at your out-of-pocket maximum, which could have you paying $15,000+ in healthcare costs for the year.
The bottom line: in a year without major health events, choosing a higher deductible plan is the easiest way to save on your healthcare costs. And even if you do have a major health event, the total cost of a high-deductible plan could still potentially be lower.
Understand your policy
One of the best ways to overspend on healthcare is to misunderstand your policy, or not to read it at all. For instance, many policies these days favor primary care doctor visits over visits to ambulatory care clinics. And nearly all policies charge a hefty co-pay for emergency room visits. If your policy is written this way, it will be much cheaper to make an appointment with your primary…
Welcome to Wise Bread’s Best Money Tips Roundup! Today we found articles on the best times to buy new smartphones at a discount, fun spring activities, and the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree.
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I’m sure that you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: when you’re getting your financial house in order, your first step should be to build up an emergency fund.
An emergency fund helps you get through financial rough patches in your life — broken washing machines, unexpected medical bills, and the like — without derailing the rest of your financial plan. The keys are to have this fund built up before disaster strikes and to save it for true emergencies.
Here, we’ll talk about how much to save in an emergency fund, how to save it, and when it’s okay to dip into those funds. We’ll also talk about emergency fund alternatives, including a home equity line of credit.
How large should your emergency fund be?
Your emergency fund goal will depend on your individual circumstances. Most financial gurus suggest an emergency fund that will cover three to six months of living expenses, though some are comfortable with less and others recommend more. Still others, such as Dave Ramsey, suggest a tiered approach where you initially set aside $1,000 and then build up a larger emergency fund after eliminating your debts.
If you have other serious financial goals, such as getting out of high-interest debt, the last option may fit your needs best. With that said, your initial emergency fund may need to be smaller or larger, depending on your circumstances.
For instance, if you have a family and know that medical emergencies could be more likely to arise, you may need a larger initial emergency fund. If you make more than you spend nearly every month, though, you could divert some of your extra funds to paying for emergencies. So a smaller emergency fund, like $500, could set you up.
What if you’re already out of debt or, at least, don’t have any debts with super-high interest? In this case, you’ll need to decide whether it’s more important to pay off your remaining debts or save more in your emergency fund. This will depend on your individual financial goals, and your tolerance for risk.
With that said, when you do start building a larger emergency fund, you’ll need to look at a variety of factors when deciding how much to save, including:
The likelihood that you’ll lose your job. If it’s more likely, save more money.
You family’s earning potential. If you’re a two-income family, you may be able to get by with a smaller emergency fund. With one income, you’ll want to save more.
Demand in your job field. If you work in a high-demand area where getting re-hired would be simple, you may be able to have a smaller emergency fund. If finding a new job would take a while, build up more.
Potential large expenses that you could incur. If you’re a renter, for instance, you may get by with a smaller emergency fund because you won’t have to do any unexpected home repairs. Those are your landlord’s job. But homeowners need larger emergency funds to deal with potential housing problems.
As you can see, figuring out how much you need to save for emergencies can be difficult. When in doubt, though, you can always start on the low end of three months’ worth of expenses, and then work your way up if you feel like you need more.
How Do You Calculate Your Expenses?
One thing to remember, though, is that when we talk about an emergency fund, we’re talking about your expenses, not your budget. Your budget should include things like dining out, traveling, family vacations, clothing, fun activities, home improvements, and more. Your actual expenses, though, don’t necessarily include these things.
In this case, we’re considering your expenses to be your bare-bones budget. If a true emergency required you to stop all unnecessary spending, how far down could you strip your budget? Your must-pay expenses include, in order of importance:
Basic, necessary groceries and household supplies
Rent or mortgage payments
Basic utilities (not including cable, Netflix, etc.)
Transportation expenses to get to work or job interviews
Child care costs if you need it while you work or job hunt
Necessary personal supplies (like toothpaste) and essential clothing
Minimum debt payments
Look at your budget, and figure out how much those things honestly cost you on a monthly basis. That’s your one-month emergency fund goal. So if a month’s worth of expenses for you is $2,500, a three-month emergency fund would be…