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Northpointe Bank Reviews: Savings, Checking, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Year Established1999
Total Assets$1.3B
LEARN MORE Northpointe Bank’s secure websiteMember FDIC
Northpointe Bank is a financial institution that got its start 19 years ago. The bank has several physical locations, but still serves customers from anywhere in the U.S. thanks to online banking. At first glance, Northpointe Bank no doubt shines where fees are concerned. There are fee-free checking, savings, money market and IRA savings accounts.The news isn’t as favorable when we looked at the annual yield on those accounts, which puts Northpointe at the middle of the pack when it comes to fee-free, high-interest bank accounts. Banks like Ally Bank, Bank of Internet USA and Synchrony Bank offer higher interest rates on checking and savings accounts with no fees. We’ll get into more detail on where the interest is lacking when we do an evaluation of each product.
Northpointe Bank’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

Compare Rates from Similar Accounts

1.95%

Savings

Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings

2.70%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 12 Month CD

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

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2.00%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 12 - 17 Month CD

2.25%

Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield Online Savings Account

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

1.75%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 36 - 47 Month CD

2.20%

Barclays Online Savings Account

on Barclays’s secure website

Member FDIC

2.70%

CD Rates

Northpointe Bank 60+ Month CD Special

2.10%

American Express National Bank High Yield Savings Account

on American Express National Bank’s secure website

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Northpointe Bank savings account options

Ultimate Savings

The Ultimate Savings account has no monthly service fee or minimum deposit requirement.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.12% APY

$0.01-$2,499.99

1.95% APY

$2,500-$99,999.99

1.12% APY

$100,000-$999,999,999

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: None
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Ultimate Savings account comes with online banking capabilities and offers a decent amount of interest on your savings. One thing the Ultimate Savings account does not come with is an ATM card. Northpointe Bank can give you a free ATM card if you ask for it, but you won’t get a fee reimbursement on the account if you get charged ATM fees from other banks. A lack of ATM refund fees isn’t such a deal breaker in this case. The savings account is intended for saving and not regular transactions. You should be depositing more money than you’re withdrawing at an ATM anyway.

Any transaction you make per month past six may incur a fee, which is standard for this type of account. Under Regulation D, the Federal Reserve sets guidelines for how many transactions financial institutions are allowed to offer you on accounts designated for saving.

Banks may dissuade you from making more than the allotted six transactions by charging a fee or downgrading your account from savings to checking. Be mindful of your transactions throughout the month so you can batch withdrawals and avoid the excessive transaction fee. They’ll charge $15 for excessive transactions.

Taking into consideration the transaction limit, you’ll benefit the most from the Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings account if you plan to put away cash you won’t be moving often. For example, rainy-day savings that you rarely dip into can find a nice home in the Ultimate Savings account. On the other hand, a checking account is likely a better option if you need to transfer money in and out frequently.

You can complete the entire application for the Ultimate Savings account online. You’ll need to have basic information like your name, address and identifying documents, such as your driver’s license to move forward.

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Kid’s Savings

The Kid’s Savings account boasts a high interest rate, but can’t be opened online. Plan to call customer service or visit a physical location to open an account for your minor.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.50% APY

Up to $1,000

1.11% APY

$1,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: No card
  • ATM fee refunds: No card
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Northpointe Bank Kid’s Savings account has a two-tier interest rate offer. This account for kids actually has the highest interest rate of their basic savings accounts. It does not come with an ATM card.

The same Federal Reserve Regulation D transaction rule applies here as with other savings accounts. Your child’s account will be charged a fee if you do over six outgoing transactions in a month.

Northpointe Bank Kid’s Savings accounts are for minors up to 18 years old.

The Kid’s Savings account is one of the accounts that you can’t set up online with Northpointe Bank. You must call to complete the application or visit a local branch.

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Health Savings Account (HSA)

A Health Savings Account is a savings account with tax benefits that people with a high-deductible health plan can use to stash away cash for health expenses.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.50% APY

$0

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: None
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The benefit of opening an HSA for medical expenses is that contributions reduce your taxable income.

Tax benefits are a clear pro for this account. The Northpointe Bank Health Savings Account is interest-bearing as well — and free. An HSA debit card will be given to you, which makes it convenient to pay medical expenses whenever necessary.

There are some guidelines for this and any other HSA account. You can only sign up for the HSA if you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). According to the IRS, 2018 HDHP accounts are generally those that have a deductible of at least $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for a family.

You can contribute up to $3,450 into an HSA for yourself and $6,850 for a family. Thankfully, this isn’t a use-it or lose-it situation. You can roll over your HSA money into another year. Be aware that they charge a steep $50 fee to transfer your HSA funds to an account with a different bank.

Anyone who qualifies for an HSA account should at least review what it has to offer. Making contributions now can come in handy when you hit retirement. You can use money contributed to the HSA account on qualified medical costs including premiums, medical services, equipment, transportation and long-term care.

Review IRS guidelines carefully before withdrawing cash from the HSA account. You can encounter tax penalties if you don’t use the account properly.

The Northpointe Bank Health Savings Account is one you can apply for online. You select the option to open an account at the top of the page. There’s a choice to select the Health Savings Account further into the application.

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How Northpointe Bank’s saving accounts compare

First in this review we took a look at all three of the Northpointe Bank savings accounts. The question now is, how do they stack up against the competition overall? The Kid’s Savings account is leading the pack with the highest interest rate.

The Ultimate Savings account for adults isn’t quite as “ultimate” as it could be. The bottom line is, you can get better rates on savings accounts elsewhere. There’s stiff competition when it comes to online-only savings accounts.

Northpointe Bank checking account options

Interest Checking

The Interest Checking account requires a pretty high balance to earn a so-so interest rate.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.00% APY

Up to $2,499.99

0.15% APY

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.25% APY

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.30% APY

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: Up to $15
  • Overdraft fees: $29

Northpointe Bank Interest Checking comes with online and mobile banking capabilities. The account also has a wide interest rate spread depending on your balance. You can look forward to getting reimbursed up to the monthly limit if you use ATMs from other financial institutions.

For other fees, the Interest Checking account has an overdraft fee ($29), which isn’t unusual for a checking account. Keep tabs on your balance, and you won’t run into much trouble here. One thing to remember for this and any other checking account is that financial institutions are prohibited from overdrafting your account unless they get your consent. They can get your consent by explaining the terms in the disclosure documents.

When you attempt to make a transaction that will overdraft your account, some banks will cover the balance and charge a fee. The overdraft is essentially a courtesy — the institution is covering the transaction for you because you didn’t have the cash. Northpointe mentions in their disclosure agreement that they may honor withdrawal requests at their discretion that will put you into overdraft and a fee can be assessed.

The alternative is that some banks will just decline the transaction resulting in no fee. Of course, the no-fee course of action is ideal. Northpointe also has an option where you can connect your checking to savings to avoid overdraft fees.

You must be able to maintain the daily balance necessary to earn interest from the Interest Checking account. You won’t earn interest otherwise, and your money should always be working for you when it’s sitting in an account.

You can apply online for this account right from their website. You’ll need to provide identifying documents, such as your government-issued ID.

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Free Checking

No fees or minimum balance required; no interest earned either.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fees: None
  • ATM fee refunds: Up to $15
  • Overdraft fees: $29

The Northpointe Bank Free Checking account is an all around free account. You even get ATM reimbursement up to a limit when you get charged from other banks.The lack of fees is great news. The lack of interest is where the news isn’t so great. There are just too many other online bank accounts at this point that offer you no fees with interest for you to go with this option.

The Free Checking account is also one of the many accounts that you can sign up for online through their website.

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How Northpointe Bank’s checking accounts compare

Northpointe Bank’s checking accounts overall leave much to be desired in interest. Competitors offer higher rates and require a lower minimum daily balances on checking accounts. The Interest Checking account which does offer interest makes you maintain a pretty high average daily balance to get any reward for being an account holder.

Northpointe Bank CD rates

Fixed Rate CDs

Northpointe Bank has fixed-rate, fixed-term CDs with decent interest rates, although not the highest around. The CD requires a high balance to earn APY, watch out for this piece of fine print.

Term

APY

7-91 Days

0.30% APY

92-182 Days

0.90% APY

6-11 Months

1.00% APY

12-17 Months

2.00% APY

18-23 Months

2.05% APY

19 Month CD Special

2.30% APY

24-29 Months

2.10% APY

30-35 Months

1.65% APY

35 Month CD Special

2.50% APY

36-47 Months

1.75% APY

48-59 Months

2.25% APY

60+ Months

2.70% APY

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD term 7 to 179 days — 30 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 180 to 364 days — 60 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 1 to 3 years — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 3 to 5 years — 180 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 5 years or more — 365 days’ interest penalty

A CD or certificate of a deposit is a place to park your money for a set period where it earns fixed interest. After it matures, you have a certain amount of time to withdraw that money before the account renews. Pay close attention to the minimum balance to earn APY here; a much higher balance is required to earn APY than is necessary to simply open the account.

Always remember that a CD account is a place to put money that you don’t regularly need because the cost of early withdrawal can be pricey. There are pros and cons to locking into a fixed rate. You’re in the clear if rates should decrease. Your money will continue to earn the interest rate you signed up for initially. On the other hand, you’re stuck with your CD rate until the end of the term if APY increases.

You’ll get the most from their CD account the longer you keep it in. The short-term CD rates are nothing to write home about, and are probably not worth the hassle of opening. Take a closer look and you’ll see that currently, a regular Northpointe Bank Ultimate Savings account beats the Northpointe Bank CD rate until the 12-month mark.

There’s a link to apply for CDs online but the option may not be available when you’re asked to choose the type of account you want to open. In this case, you can just call them to open the account.

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How Northpointe Bank’s CD rates compare

The interest rates at Northpointe Bank being less than stellar is a common piece of feedback so far in this review. The CD rates are no different. Their rates are lower than the CD rates you can get from other financial institutions. Other accounts let you deposit a lower balance while still earning interest as well.

Northpointe Bank Money Market rates

Liquid Money Market account

The Liquid Money Market account doesn’t come with an ATM card, but you can purchase checks.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.20% APY

Up to $2,499.99

0.25% APY

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.40% APY

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.50% APY

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: No Card
  • ATM fee refund: No Card
  • Overdraft fee: $29

If you’re looking for a money market account with an ATM card, this isn’t going to be your first choice. The account has no monthly maintenance fee though, which is a plus.

Keep in mind, there’s a limit to how many transactions you can make with this account as well. The limit is six transactions due to government regulations. Surpass six transactions and you’ll be charged a $15 fee per item. Take care to avoid this and you can enjoy this account with no fees.

The Liquid Money Market account may be a good place to put savings that you need to have easily accessible because you can use checks. Be mindful of the starting minimum balance required.

The Liquid Money Market account is another one offered by this bank that you can open online. You need to have the minimum deposit ready to get started.

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How Northpointe Bank’s Money Market account compares

Northpointe Bank’s Liquid Money Market account has an interest rate spread that’s not in line with competitors — it’s lower. Other money market accounts available also let you deposit less cash initially. If having an ATM card is important to you, then there are better options for you.

Northpointe Bank IRA accounts

IRA CD Rates

The IRA CD is a secure investment option to stash some retirement cash.

Term

APY

7-91 Days

0.30% APY

92-182 Days

0.90% APY

6-11 Months

1.00% APY

12-17 Months

2.00% APY

18-23 Months

2.05% APY

19 Month CD Special

2.30% APY

24-29 Months

2.10% APY

30-35 Months

1.65% APY

35 Month CD Special

2.50% APY

36-47 Months

1.75% APY

48-59 Months

2.25% APY

60+ Months

2.70% APY

  • Minimum opening deposit: $500 for fixed IRA CDs and $1,000 for IRA special CDs
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $500 for fixed IRA CDs and $1,000 for IRA special CDs
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD term 7 to 179 days — 30 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 180 to 364 days — 60 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 1 to 3 years — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 3 to 5 years — 180 days’ interest penalty
    • CD term 5 years or more — 365 days’ interest penalty

Northpointe Bank’s IRA CDs offer a wide spread of interest rates that get higher the longer you keep money in the account. The minimum balance listed above to open the account is less than the balance required to earn APY. Be sure to put at minimum the balance necessary to earn APY. Withdrawing money from an IRA before you reach the age of 59 ½ can cost you a pretty penny in income tax and other penalties.

You must keep your money in the IRA CD account for the entire term to avoid a penalty from Northpointe Bank and the IRS. There is one exception for IRA early withdrawal penalties: You may catch a break if you have to withdraw money for hardship or medical expenses. Even with the possible loopholes for IRS related penalties, people who will benefit from the IRA CD the most are those who will leave the money in for the entire period. Keep in mind, the maximum you can deposit into an IRA for 2018 is $5,500 (or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older).

The IRA CD is a savings vehicle for retirement that earns a set amount of interest for an assigned period. An IRA CD may be the right addition to your retirement plan if you’re looking for a safe and predictable place to put your savings.

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How Northpointe Bank’s IRA CD rates compares

Most of Northpointe Bank’s products have lower interest rates than competitors. Again, the IRA CD account is no exception. Competitors offer comparably higher fixed interest rates for the shorter term IRA CDs. You can also find IRA CDs that let you earn better rates with a lower balance.

Liquid IRA Savings

A place with potential tax benefits to put your retirement savings. IRS penalties can apply if you withdraw early.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

0.20%

Up to $2,499.99

0.25%

$2,500 - $24,999.99

0.40%

$25,000 - $99,999.99

0.50%

$100,000+

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: No Card
  • ATM fee refund: No Card
  • Overdraft fee: $29

The IRA Liquid Savings account is another place to put cash for retirement that comes with potential tax benefits.

The IRA CD we discussed above has fixed interest for a fixed term. The Liquid IRA Savings account does not have a fixed interest rate or term. The rate can change at any time. The Regulation D six transactions per month limit applies here as well. Go over six transactions per month and you’ll encounter a $15 fee per item.

Ultimately, money you contribute to an IRA is money you don’t plan to touch until retirement age to avoid penalties. Retirement could be years or even decades away for you. The interest rate on this account is pretty low if your money is going to be baking for quite a while. An IRA CD would probably be a better option to consider if you prefer to put some of your nest egg in a place that’s low risk.

The Liquid IRA Savings account is one that you can’t apply for online. You can call the bank to set up this account instead.

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Our overall review of Northpointe Bank

Northpointe Bank gets high marks with its lack of fees, the variety of account offerings and user experience. The lack of fees on most accounts is a highlight for a bank that happens to have several physical locations across the country. And if you’re not located near a branch, you can apply for many of the accounts online from your own home.The accounts that can’t be applied for online can be done over the phone. Someone who wants to be loyal to one bank will likely benefit the most from doing business with Northpointe since there are so many account types available. You can fulfill all of your banking needs in one place.

The interest rates are where Northpointe Bank doesn’t quite stack up against the competition. The highest rate for a basic savings account is offered to kids. There’s nothing remarkable about the adult account rates that should sway you to bank here instead of other online banks that also have no fees and top-notch online services.

Thanks to online banking, there are too many options for you to settle on just any old account.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Finances

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Spring is right around the corner, which means it’s time to come out of hibernation and do some tidying up before summer hits. Along with organizing the basement and cleaning out your closet, why not set aside some time to review the status of your finances as well?

Even if you keep a fairly tight budget, it’s still worthwhile to do regular financial check-ups to make sure you’re on track to meet your goals. To help you get started, we put together a financial spring cleaning guide.

Step 1: Address spending

Fine-tune your budget. A budget is a plan for your money, but even the best laid plans have a tendency to go awry. A regular budget check-in can help you stay on top of your spending behavior and make any necessary tweaks. If you don’t already have a budget, check out our guide to help you get started.

Commit to cutting back on excess food shopping. “The common budgeting offenders are grocery stores and eating out,” said Ryan McPherson, CFP® and director of coaching at financial education company SmartPath. The problem isn’t the cost of each grocery or restaurant bill, according to McPherson — it’s usually the frequency of food shopping. Here’s a tip: try listing out the number of times you went to the grocery store or ate out in the last month. Divide that number by four to figure out how many times you spent money on food each week. Then, make it a goal to go to the grocery store or out to eat one less time per week. Keep reducing your visits slowly until you’re at a point where your food spending is where you want it to be.

Compare providers. Shop with competitors to see if you can get a better deal on services like cable, internet or insurance. Ask your current providers if the prices you find can be matched, or consider making the switch to more affordable companies to lower your bills for the rest of the year.

Step 2: Ramp up saving

Check your savings account and come up with a savings plan. The target for liquid emergency savings is generally three to six months worth of household expenses. According to McPherson, if you need to beef up your savings account, don’t to think of it as needing to save another $1,000. “That’s an overwhelming amount for most people,” he said. Instead, he recommends dividing the amount you need by the next 12 months. This will give you a manageable amount, like $100 to $150, that you can set aside monthly until you reach your goal. Store that money in a high-interest savings account to boost your returns.

Automate your plan. “Automating anything in personal finance is going to lead to better results and habits,” said AJ Ayers, head of operations at financial planning company Brooklyn FI. Set up automatic contributions from checking to savings so you don’t even have to think about it. Ayers also recommends keeping your savings and checking at separate banks so you’re not tempted to spend your savings or withdraw it from an ATM. Automatic saving apps like Joy and Qapital are extra tools that can also help you ramp up your savings.

Bump up your retirement contributions. McPherson told MagnifyMoney that a good goal is to sock away at least 20% of your gross pre-tax household income for retirement. The 20% includes the contributions that both you and your employer are making. Spring is a great time to reassess and potentially boost your contributions for the rest of the year. Don’t forget to take into account any promotions or bonuses when thinking of ways to increase your contributions.

Step 3: Legacy Planning

Write a will or update your existing one. Death is a morbid topic, but it’s a reality that many fail to plan for. You may need to update your will if you’ve had a change in assets or a change in your family situation. Here’s a guide to help you get your estate plan in order, including information of creating wills and designating a power of attorney.

Update your beneficiaries. You don’t want to end up in a situation where the wrong person gets your cash. When you pass away, retirement accounts are paid out based on your beneficiaries and not based on your will, said McPherson. Say you get divorced, then you get remarried, and then you die before changing your beneficiary. If your ex is still listed as the primary beneficiary on the account, the money could go to them regardless of what you designate in your will. After any life event (e.g. marriage, divorce or having a child), you should update your beneficiaries to make sure your money goes where you want.

Consider life insurance. In the event of your death, life insurance offers a source of funds to the people who depend on you financially. Without it, family members could be left struggling to pay for funeral expenses or day-to-day necessities. Now’s a good time to look at your policy and consider whether or not the coverage is appropriate and whether or not you need to make any changes.

Step 4: Review your taxes

Settle your bill. At this point, you should have all the documents you need to complete your tax filing. “If you owe money and you can’t pay your taxes, do not delay. Get out in front of it right now,” McPherson said. Contact the IRS to get on a short- or long-term installment plan. When you owe money, Uncle Sam will either work with you or against you. The IRS has almost unlimited power to reclaim what you owe them, according to McPherson — ignoring your tax bill will only lead to bigger problems.

Decide how you’ll use your refund. If you’re getting back a refund, come up with a plan for how you’ll use that money. Instead of splurging or just sitting on the extra cash, put that money to work by boosting your emergency savings or paying off excess debt. A plan will help you stay on track and prevent you from squandering your refund.

Check your withholding. McPherson recommends checking your withholding annually, especially if you’ve experience a major life change during the year. Did you get married or divorced? Did you have your first child? Did you have another child? Fill out a new W-4 and submit it to your employer.

Step 5: Consider credit concerns

Pull your credit reports and scores. Review your credit reports every so often to check for mistakes or other red flags. “[Negative records] could be the result of your habits or of someone stealing your identity,” said Ayers. You’ll want to nip both — poor habits or fraud — in the bud. We’re also all entitled to one free credit report from each bureau annually, and you can get your reports at www.annualcreditreport.com to review. But while your free annual reports doesn’t come with a credit score, you can get one for free at LendingTree. Disclaimer: MagnifyMoney is a subsidiary of LendingTree.

Dispute records. Circle items on your credit reports that are inaccurate or incomplete. File a dispute with the credit bureau and the reporting creditor. The dispute filing will trigger an investigation; records found to be incorrect or incomplete will either be removed or updated. You can make disputes online, or you can send in a letter. Here’s everything you need to know about disputing a credit report.

Develop a plan to improve your score. There are five key factors that determine your credit score: payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, kinds of credit and new credit inquiries. The most influential are your payment history and credit utilization, so if you’re trying to boost your score, start there. Set up automatic payments so you don’t accidentally miss a due date, and decrease your credit utilization by focusing on decreasing your debt. You can also try calling your credit card companies to see if they’ll raise your limit, Ayers said.

Bottom line

It doesn’t feel like spring yet for a good part of the U.S., but, thankfully, it’s coming soon. These steps can help you force your finances out of hibernation and prepare you for a sunny and financially stable summer.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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A Chef’s Guide to Stocking Your Pantry On a Budget

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Lobster tails, shrimp and filet mignon are foods that may come to mind when you think of the perfect gourmet meal. But these items probably won’t make the final cut of your grocery list when you’re on a tight budget.

Thankfully, foodies and amateur chefs don’t need to go broke when trying to cook nutritious and delicious meals. In this article, we share a few food shopping and cooking strategies that can help you step up your game in the kitchen while on a budget.

Don’t be shy— try some new fresh herbs.

When it comes to flavor: “Herbs are our best friend,” said Tiffany Derry, chef, restaurateur and the Season 7 fan favorite on Bravo’s Top Chef. Herbs are an affordable way to elevate the simplest of dishes, but they are often underutilized by people who don’t know how much they can change the taste of a meal.

Derry, based in Dallas, loves the lemony fresh flavor of basil and recommends it to home chefs. Derry also suggests parsley as an inexpensive addition to your herb collection. Yes, parsley can be used for more than just a garnish! Tarragon is another underutilized herb with a citrusy fresh flavor that Derry uses to spice up her dishes.

Earthy sage, spicy garlic and ginger, piney rosemary, sharp oregano, aromatic mint and chives are other herbs you can find in your grocery aisle. A little experimentation with new herbs can take your dishes to the next level without breaking the bank.

Not sure what herb to use in your next dish? The Food Network has a rundown of how different herbs taste and the types of dishes you can use them for. When shopping for herbs, take the time to inspect each one before purchase. Herbs should look fresh and not bruised.

If you have herbs left over after cooking a meal, Derry recommends putting them in the blender with a little bit of oil to make a paste to put away in the fridge. Grinding fresh herbs down helps you avoid food waste and the mixture can be used to jazz up a few more meals. Add a quick spoonful of your herb paste to spice up eggs in the morning or rice at night. You can also dry herbs or freeze them for use later.

Buy local and in season.

Money spent should be spent on the best possible quality. “Eating foods that aren’t in season are a waste in terms of flavor and nutrition,” said Derry. Whenever you buy local, you’re getting the best price for the best product. Search for markets that source from local farmers and pay closer attention to when local produce is in season. Buy produce that you plan to eat within a week to limit food waste.

For both perishable and non-perishable items, regularly comparison shop stores in your area for cost and overall quality. Look for produce with deep colors and without small holes. Punctures could mean that an insect got to snack on it before you. Smelling fruits can help you choose the best ones. The quality of the ingredients can make or break the taste of the final product.

Get whole meats and break them down at home.

Buying whole meats like turkeys and chickens throughout the year (instead of just for special occasions) is another cost effective way to fill up your fridge. According to Derry, bone-in meats can feed more people and can give you more bang for your buck, especially when you’re looking at fish.

Let’s take a look at the numbers: As of press time, Whole Foods through Amazon Prime Now has boneless, skinless chicken breasts selling for $4.99 per pound. On the other hand, you can get a whole chicken for $1.99 per pound. Even bigger savings are seen with fish. Snapper fillets are selling for $27.99 per pound compared to $12.99 for the whole snapper.

Breaking down your own food may seem intimidating, but it’s something you can master with practice. There are many video guides online that can show you how to cut fish and poultry step-by-step. Bon Appétit magazine, for instance, has several how-to guides including how to fillet whole fish, how to carve ham and how to butcher a chicken.

The beauty of getting whole meats is the versatility, according to Derry. You can cook many different meals with your meats and your assortment of herbs without going over budget. One night you could have roast fish, the next you could make fish tacos and the leftover fish bones could be used for a fish stock. “The idea is that one thing can be turned into three [meals],” said Derry.

Learn the right techniques to compliment your ingredients.

Besides stocking the right ingredients, cooking techniques will take you far. Making delicious food doesn’t require a lot of money, said Derry. Much of it is perfecting the cooking skills for each type of dish.

“A sauté is a sauté, no matter what type of food you’re making,” according to Derry. Sautéing is cooking on high heat with a bit of oil and shaking the pan so the food doesn’t stick to the bottom. Grilling is also high heat method that brings out the flavor. “Anything can be delicious as long as you season it properly and cook it properly. I can make a pack of Ramen noodles taste amazing!” Derry said. You take the noodles, throw out the seasoning packet and put together your own broth. Add a poached egg to elevate the dish.

Besides sautéing and grilling, there’s baking, broiling, pan-frying and deep frying. There’s also boiling, poaching, steaming. Experiment with different techniques when cooking vegetables and meats with your new herbs and spices. When in doubt, look for a tutorial on how to do each style of cooking step-by-step.

Final Word

Buying high-ticket grocery items isn’t necessary to cook gourmet. Put a few herbs on your list and purchase other quality ingredients that are within your budget. After stocking the pantry, roll up your sleeves and cook up your own new (and delicious) meals.

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Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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