Advertiser Disclosure

Strategies to Save

The Ultimate Guide to Handling Your Emergency Fund

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

emergency fund

Unexpected expenses have a way of popping up at the worst possible times. A good way to be prepared is having an emergency fund. An emergency fund is money put aside to use when something comes up and you need money right away.

One example of an unexpected financial emergency is a car repair – and they are not cheap. The average cost of car repairs after an accident can range anywhere from $50 to $1,500+.

The Federal Reserve recently reported that 4 out of 10 people in 2017 would have difficulty paying for a financial emergency of $400. Instead of having an emergency fund to rely on, these people may use credit cards to pay off the bill, only racking up more debt, or asking someone else to fund them the money.

Don’t let an unexpected expense put your finances in jeopardy. In this guide, we’ll explain how much to save in an emergency fund and where to keep yours stashed.

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is money put aside specifically for an unexpected financial emergency. These funds are there to help you tackle an emergency so you don’t have to take on debt to cover expenses.

There are many reasons why you might need an emergency fund. Some of the most common scenarios include:

  • Handle an unexpected medical cost
  • Pay for car repairs after an accident
  • Provide liquid assets in the event of a job loss
  • Use toward an unexpected home repair

And once you use your emergency fund, it’s essential to start saving again right away. You don’t want to be unprepared for anything else that can come up.

Deciding how much to set aside for a rainy day is a question with multiple answers. In the next section, we’ll look at a few different rules of thumb for saving amounts.

How much money you should save

When you start saving money for your emergency fund, you should strive to cover your financial needs that are based on your individual income and living expenses. Single-income families may differ from dual-income families, and self-employed may differ than those who have full-time jobs.

Here are a few good rules of thumb when determining how much to save:

3 months: Best for singles

If you are single with a steady job, saving three months can work well. You only have yourself to worry about so it’s only your living expenses that will need to be covered, rather than those of a spouse or children.

6 months: Best for married couples with kids

Those who have a spouse and children will likely need to save more money than those who are independent. Six months should cover the costs for those who are married with a stable income and have young children living with them.

9+ months: Best for the self-employed

Anyone who is self-employed or with infrequent income, such as freelancers, can benefit by saving more than those who have a stable income. Nine months is a good go-to target. This way you’re able to pay for any unexpected emergency, such as car damage, or the loss of a client or project.

Where to keep your emergency fund

Now that you know why you should have an emergency fund, it’s time to decide which accounts are best to stow away your cash.

Two popular accounts for emergency funds are savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs). A savings account at a financial institution allows you to earn interest on your funds. Savings accounts can be ideal for emergency situations because it’s easy to write a check and access funds via wire transfer or an ATM.

CDs are deposit accounts which require you to keep your money stowed away for a particular time frame. In return for keeping your funds tied up longer, you can receive a higher rate of return than you typically would with a savings account

There are also CD ladders, which should not be confused with CDs. A CD ladder a strategy used to open multiple CDs with different terms. The idea is that you’ll have a new CD maturing every few months or so, giving you more flexibility in how often you can access the funds in those accounts.

With all the different accounts out there, it’s hard to know exactly why a savings account or a CD is the best option for emergency funds. But there are some distinctions to watch out for.

Unlike stocks and mutual funds, which have principal risk so you can lose money, savings accounts and CDs do not. This is incredibly important for an emergency fund. You don’t want your emergency fund to go down when the market does and therefore, not be able to withdraw the exact amount you need.

Why checking accounts aren’t the best options for savings

A checking account is similar to savings and CDs because it doesn’t have principal risk. You can access your money freely without any limitations, which can also be a negative. If you can access your funds at any time, you may find yourself withdrawing from your checking when it’s not necessarily an emergency. Plus, the rates for a checking account are usually much lower than those with a savings account or CD.

You want to be able to access your money when needed, but you also want to be able to save it so it’s there should an emergency pop up. A savings account allows you to get your money fast while CDs can take a few days and with a penalty. As for CD ladders, the full balance is not usually available, only a portion of what’s in your accounts.

Savings accounts vs. CDs for your emergency fund

When deciding on savings accounts or CDs for your emergency fund, there are several factors to take into consideration. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for these two accounts to gain a better perspective on which might work best for you.

When savings accounts make sense

A savings account is a viable option for an emergency fund because you are able to place your money in a safe place and have access to it when you need it. As long as you follow the transaction guideline limits, you will not have to pay a fee, and you still earn interest on your money as long as it’s in the account.

  • FDIC insured up to $250,000 per account
  • Deposit as much as you want without restrictions
  • You can withdraw from your account six times per month without any penalties
  • Online banks offer very competitive rates on savings accounts, many times more than traditional banks
  • As rates rise, online banks tend to offer higher rates on deposit accounts as well
  • Some savings accounts allow for check-writing abilities


  • Interest can be lower than some CDs
  • Traditional banks offer rock bottom interest rates
  • May get hit with excessive transaction fee if you make a withdrawal/transfer from the account more than six times per month

When CDs make sense

While a savings account may have an advantage over CDs when saving money in an emergency fund, there are times when CDs may work better, such as for overflow savings. Once you have met your goal with your savings, you may want to invest the rest of your money (or a portion of it) into a CD or a CD ladder strategy to earn interest.

A CD or CD ladder strategy makes the most sense for those who don’t need the money right away or want ongoing access to it. If you take the money out before the CD term is up, you are at risk of paying a penalty fee. And remember, if you leave your money in there, you can get a higher rate of return.

  • FDIC insured up to $250,000 per account
  • Interest rates are usually higher than regular savings accounts
  • Rates are locked until maturity so they won’t fall


  • Rates are locked, which means they can’t rise
  • Possible penalties for early withdrawals
  • Restrictions on deposits

Best savings accounts for emergency funds

A savings account can be a good option for an emergency fund. MagnifyMoney has its own savings account marketplace to help compare and find the right account for you. Simply add your zip code and account balance to review your results instantly. To help get you started in your search, here are some of the best online savings accounts that may help you stow away cash for an emergency.


Marcus by Goldman Sachs Bank USA

Ally Bank


MySavings Account from MySavingsDirect






Linked debit card?





Ways to access your funds

- Funds transfer with linked account
- Wire transfer

- Funds transfer
- Wire transfer Phone transfer -Check request

- Online transfer
- Phone request
- ATM withdrawals

-Transfer funds electronically

Time to transfer funds

Next business day

3 days; can also be expedited for 1-day transfer

Immediately for outgoing transfers

2-4 days

What to look for when vetting emergency savings accounts

When searching for a savings account, it’s smart to check out online banks. Many times you can find higher yields without monthly maintenance fees tacked on.

Keep an eye on savings accounts that can offer limited check-writing abilities for easy access to your money. Also, look into the bank’s transfer requirements and restrictions.

“If you need to move money from the savings account to your checking account to cover an emergency bill, you’ll want the transfer to be fast without small-dollar limits on the transfer,” said Ken Tumin, editor of (also owned by LendingTree).

Best CDs for emergency savings

If you’re looking for CDs to help keep your emergency fund on hand, there are also many to choose from. Find some of the best CD rates directly on MagnifyMoney’s CDs marketplace by putting in your zip code and the amount you’d like to deposit.

Here are a few CDs you may want to keep an eye on as you begin your search.


Goldman Sachs Bank USA


Barclays Bank

Ally Bank

Terms available

6 months — 6 years

3 months — 5 years

1 year — 5 years

3 months — 5 years

Deposit required to earn starting APY



No minimum deposit

No minimum deposit

APY range

0.60% APY — 2.50%APY

0.75% APY — 2.60%APY

0.35% — 2.45% APY

0.75% APY — 2.50% APY

Early withdrawal penalty

For a CD term of less than 12 months, there is
“90 days simple interest on the principal at the rate in effect for the CD”

Starting with: 12 months or less terms are charged 90 days interest at “current rate”

Less than 24 months, there is a penalty equivalent to 90 days interest

There is an early withdrawal penalty for both high-yield CDS and raise your rate CDs; penalties vary and are determined on your CD term

What to look for when vetting emergency CD accounts

As with savings accounts, there are many options when shopping for CDs. Be sure to seek out banks that offer competitive rates, low early withdrawal penalties, interest withdrawal without penalty and bank-to-bank transfers that are done electronically so you can get your money the fastest.

6 tips for saving money for an emergency

Saving money for an emergency fund can seem daunting, especially when you are first starting to save. However, there are a few easy tips to help pave the path for a solid fund.

1. Make your emergency fund a priority

Start saving for an emergency immediately. Once you have reached your emergency fund goal, work on other financial plans and investments.

2. Adjust your budget

Cut down your spending habits and try your best to stick to a budget. Be truthful about your financial situation and don’t spend money you don’t have.

3. Use other cash sources

Try to put away cash received from other resources before you even miss it, such as work bonus, a raise or additional income from another resource. This way you won’t be worrying about trying to nickel-and-dime your paycheck to add money to your fund.

4. Don’t use your emergency fund for just anything

As your emergency fund grows, be sure to keep it there. You don’t want to use it on something else, such as a big, lavish purchase and then need it for a future emergency only to find it’s no longer there.

5. Be diligent about saving

Try to stick to your savings goal. Put away the same amount every month no matter what else may come up.

6. Pay down your debt

If you have a lot of debt, you’ll want to get that paid off as fast as possible. It’s hard to save when you have high bills (with high-interest rates) to pay off every month. Treat debt payments as a form of savings — just think about all the interest charges you’ll avoid by paying it off quickly.

You never know when a financial emergency might come up. Try your best to be well-prepared with an emergency fund. This fund will keep your money in a safe place so you can access it if an emergency should happen.

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.

Carissa Chesanek
Carissa Chesanek |

Carissa Chesanek is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Carissa here

Advertiser Disclosure

Strategies to Save

Best Money Savings Apps

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

best mobile apps

Saving money isn’t always as simple as the oft-prescribed “put it away and don’t touch it” advice makes it seem. With financial concerns constantly tugging at our attention, it can be difficult to find the time and money to save for future goals, events or the unavoidable emergency.

If the savings aren’t there when you need them, you may finance a purchase or cover an emergency with debt like a credit card or personal loan. In a pinch, those tools can be invaluable. But taking on debt should generally be considered a last resort, as carrying debt comes with its own risks.

Luckily for the tech-savvy, the fintech revolution gave rise to several mobile apps designed to help you save money — and make saving a bit more interesting, to boot. Read on to discover the best money savings apps to help you save for short term goals like a vacation, long term goals like a home or college education, and pad your all-too-important emergency fund.

Best money savings apps to help you save daily

Consistency is the root of wealth-building. That said, it follows that saving a little bit of money every single day can be a good practice to start building a wealth mentality. It also happens to be a great way to save money without feeling drastically penalized today to serve your future goals, since you can split your saving into small chunk sand meet targeted saving goals. The following money savings apps can help you get into the habit of saving a little bit of money every day.

Best for saving money on a tight budget: Joy

App Store: 4.3/5, Google Play: n/a
If you’re on a tight budget, the Joy app may be a great way to find money you didn’t think you had.

This free iOS app analyzes your income and spending habits and calculates how much money you can safely save each day without breaking your budget. The Joy app won’t automatically make the transfer for you, so you’ll have to open up the app and decide whether or not to save the money. If you say yes, the funds will be transferred from your linked account to an FDIC-insured Joy savings account.

You can also elect to save more or less than the amount suggested, as you can move money into your Joy savings account anytime. If you need a reminder, set up a daily notification to remind you to make the transfer.

When you’re ready to spend your savings, you can transfer the funds from the Joy savings account to an external account.

Another popular app, Digit, deserves honorable mention. Digit calculates how much you can save each day and will make the transfer for you, automatically — however, Digit costs $2.99, so it may not be a viable option for those on a tight budget.

Best for saving up an emergency fund: Chime Banking

App Store: 4.7/5, Google Play: 4.4/5
Standard financial advice suggests keeping three to six months worth of monthly expenses stashed away in an emergency fund, just in case you run into a financial emergency. In reality, however, around 40% of Americans report they aren’t able to cover a $400 emergency out-of-pocket, while the average U.S. monthly household expenditure is about $5,005.

Chime, a mobile-only bank, hopes its app’s automatic savings features may just help you beat the status quo and make it a little less painful to finally build up your emergency fund. The Chime app is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.

When you enroll in direct deposit and Save When You Get Paid, Chime will automatically transfer 10% of each paycheck into a seperate Chime savings account for you. If you’re enrolled in Chime’s automatic savings program, the bank will also automatically round up each transaction made with your Chime Visa debit card and deposit the amount into your savings account, too.

Best for saving money for a vacation: Tip Yourself

App Store: 4.6/5, Google Play: 4.4/5
Tip Yourself is a free app that may help you save for your dream trip. With the Tip Yourself app, available on iOS and Android devices, you can reward yourself for positive behavior by transferring a little bit of money to your digital tip jar each time you accomplish a personal goal.

If you make it to the gym on a Tuesday, for example, tip yourself $1 (or whatever amount you feel you deserve). The same goes for every other personal goal you may have, such as getting to work earlier or calling your parents once a week.

The app aims to help its users build savings habits and motivate them to stay more consistent about their personal goals, too. The app also has a social feed, so you can share your wins — big and small — with your peers in a supportive community. If you’re into maintaining a streak, there is also a calendar that keeps track of the days you did tip yourself.

With Tip Yourself, you can set a savings goal for your next vacation. When you reach your goal, you’ll feel confident taking a vacation knowing the money you’re spending is your reward for keeping the promises you made to yourself.

Best money savings apps to help you save monthly

Saving money on a monthly basis for large goals doesn’t have to come down to what’s left over at the end of the month. And it won’t, if any of the following money savings apps have anything to do with it. The apps below encourage users to set aside the funds when they have them, before the money is absorbed into their monthly expenses.

Best for saving money for a car: Qapital

App Store: 4.8/5, Google Play: 4.5/5
A car is a fairly large savings goal to meet, but it can seem less daunting if you can save a bit toward your vehicle each time you are reminded why you need the car in the first place — that’s where Qapital comes in.

With Qapital, you can set customizable autosave rules for just about anything, so you can save money simply with the actions you take living your life. You can set a custom rule; for example, you can save a certain amount of money each time you pay for a public transit ticket or fill up the tank for that friend who drives you to work.

Qapital has a bunch of other ways to help you save up for a car, too. With the round up rule, the app will round up all of your transactions and automatically transfer the difference to your designated goal account. So each time you pay for anything, you will have a little bit of money going toward your car. The spend less rule saves whenever you spend less than a certain amount with a retailer or in a certain spending category, and the guilty pleasure rule saves a certain amount whenever you spend on a chosen guilty pleasure, like ordering takeout.

When your goal is funded, you can withdraw the funds and spend it on your chosen vehicle. The free Qapital app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Best for saving money for a child’s future: Kidfund

App Store: 4.8/5, Google Play: n/a
Whatever your child’s future holds, having the money on hand to help them accomplish their goals will come in handy. With Kidfund, not only can you contribute to your child’s future success, but so can your family, friends and anyone who supports your child’s dreams.

You can open a dedicated savings account for each of your children and set a rule to gift money to your child’s account on a periodic basis. For example, you can gift each of your children’s Kidfund accounts $20 each month. Kidfund awards interest based on the balance within the account.

On top of your giving, you can invite your friends and family members to follow your child’s Kidfund account and they can gift money to the account for birthdays, holidays or whatever reason. When the time comes, you’ll have the money waiting in the Kidfund account to fund your child’s dreams.

Kidfund is a free social savings app available only on iOS devices.

Best for saving money for the holidays: Simple

App Store: 3.8/5, Google Play: 4.2/5
Simple is a mobile-first bank that helps you set aside money for future goals. With a fee-free Simple account, you can set and fund financial goals with a target date. Simple will then calculate how much money you need to transfer periodically to reach your goal by your specified target date, based on the frequency you set.

For example, you can set a goal to save $500 for holiday shopping over 10 months and set the frequency to transfer an amount each month. Simple will automatically set aside $50 each month so you’ll reach your goal for the holidays.

The money for the goal will remain in your Simple account, but will be set aside and tagged for that specific purpose. The amount designated toward the goal will be deducted from your total to give show you how much money is safe for you to spend. The Simple app is free and available on iOS and Android devices.

Best money savings apps to help you save in the long term

Saving for long-term goals can be difficult when you can’t see the tangible results of your efforts just yet. Using one of the money savings apps below may help you keep track of the progress made toward your savings goal, so you can stay motivated as you wait, save and watch the investment you are making towards your future grow with time.

Best for saving money for a house: Rize

App Store: 4.2/5, Google Play: 3.7/5
Rize is a free automatic savings app available for both iOS and Android devices. It helps you earn extra money on your savings for a long-term goal (like a home down payment) and offers a high APY on your cash savings. You also have the option to earn even more on your savings by investing the funds. You set a goal amount and how often you want Rize to pull a specified amount of money from your account, and the app will do the rest of the work for you.

You can set investment or cash savings goals. The money saved in a Rize account earns interest on cash savings. If you choose to invest your money, it’s put into exchange-traded funds which earn varying interest rates.

Rize doesn’t charge any fees on your cash savings or require a minimum amount to open an account; instead, it lets you decide how much you want to pay. If you invest your money, Rize asks you contribute a minimum $2 per month to your account and pay an annual 0.25% management fee of your invested assets.

Rize also has a few built-in features to help you reach your goal a bit faster. It calls the features “Power Ups,” and you can turn them on or off at any time. You can use the Accelerate feature to automatically increase your contribution by 1% each month. So if you are saving $100 toward your down payment this month, Rize will increase your contribution to $101 the next month.

Rize also has a Boost feature that calculates how much extra money you have based on your income and spending habits, and automatically transfers up to $5 to your goal whenever “it makes sense,” which Rize says is about once or twice a week.

Best for saving money for college: Clarity Money

App Store: 4.7/5, Google Play: 4.1/5
Clarity Money is a free automatic budgeting and savings app available for both iOS and Android devices. The app helps you save by setting rules for how often and how much you want Clarity to automatically stash away for goals, like paying for next semester’s tuition or funding your child’s college savings account.

Clarity Money also has a few other features that may help you find more money in your budget to save for school fees. The app can analyze your expenses to find where you may be able to cut back on subscription services and free up some of your funds. Its budgeting features display your spending habits and let you know when you are going over your intended budget in a category, so you can adjust your spending behavior before you overspend. Clarity Money does not charge any fees for its services.

Best for saving money for retirement: Acorns

App Store: 4.7/5, Google Play: 4.3/5
Acorns is an investing app popular for letting its users invest the spare change from their daily transactions with its Acorns Core option. With Acorns Core, the app automatically rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar and invests the difference into your chosen investment portfolios (once you’ve reached a minimum $5 in roundup savings).

Acorns also has a retirement savings feature called Acorns Later. With Acorns Later, you can invest your money in an Independent Retirement Account (IRA) and set recurring contributions from your linked account. You can invest using a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA or SEP IRA. The ETFs in your investment portfolio will automatically adjust to fit your needs over time based on your retirement date and goals. You can’t have Acorns Later without have Acorns Core, and having both costs the user $2 per month. Acorns Core only is $1 per month.

The Acorns app is free and available for both Android and iOS devices, but the Acorns service costs $1, $2, or $3 (with the Acorns Spend checking account) per month depending on what plan you select.

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.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at [email protected]

Advertiser Disclosure

Earning Interest, Reviews, Strategies to Save

Review of Live Oak Bank’s Deposit Rates

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Live Oak Bank’s savings account

When it comes to the best savings accounts with high interest rates, Live Oak Bank currently has one of the highest rates.


Minimum Deposit


Up to $5 million

(but only up to $250,000 is FDIC-insured)

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

Live Oak Bank currently has one of the best savings account rates available. This means that Live Oak Bank is lowering the bar and allowing anyone to take advantage of these high interest rates, no matter how much is in his or her pocket right now.

Live Oak Bank wants you to use your savings account, and use it often, which is one reason why it has no monthly maintenance fee. If there is no activity on your account for 24 months and your balance is less than $10.01, Live Oak Bank will take the remainder of your balance as a Dormant Account Fee and close your account.

Getting money into a Live Oak Bank savings account from an external bank account can take a little bit of time depending on how you do it. If you request the money through Live Oak Bank’s online portal, the funds won’t be available for up to five or six business days. But if you opt instead to send the money to Live Oak Bank from your current bank, the money will be available as soon as it’s received. Your Live Oak Bank savings account will start earning interest as soon as the money posts to your account.

You can easily withdraw your money at any time via ACH transfer. Simply log into your Live Oak Bank savings account and electronically transfer it to whichever bank account you wish. It’ll be available in two to three business days.

You are limited to making just six withdrawals per month with this savings account. That’s not a Live Oak Bank thing; that’s a federal regulation imposed upon savings accounts in the U.S. If you absolutely can’t wait until next month to make another withdrawal past your allotted six per month, you’ll be charged a $10 transaction fee for each additional action.

Live Oak Bank CD rates

Live Oak Bank also has some of the best CD rates with a decent deposit amount.



Minimum Deposit

6-month CD



1-year CD



18-month CD



2-year CD



3-year CD



4-year CD



5-year CD



  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • CD terms that are less than 24 months — 90 days’ interest penalty
    • CD terms that are more than 24 months — 180 days’ interest penalty

Live Oak Bank currently offers the highest CD rates. This bank’s minimum deposit requirements also seem to be right on par with other bank’s minimum deposit requirements. Currently, the best CDs out there have minimum deposit requirements both above and below Live Oak Bank’s $2,500 benchmark.

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to open these accounts. It’s a relatively straightforward process to open a CD: Simply complete the forms online, provide any needed documentation (such as your current bank account details), and wait for an account approval. Once your account is open, you can transfer over your deposit, where it will be held for five days before officially launching your CD.

If you need to take out your deposit early, bad news: As with many CDs, you’ll face an early-withdrawal penalty at Live Oak Bank. If your original CD term was for six months, one year or 18 months, you’ll be charged 90 days’ worth of interest. If your original CD term was for longer than that, you’ll be charged a higher rate of 180 days’ worth of interest.

If you are able to resist the urge to withdraw your money early, congratulations! Your CD will automatically renew into a second CD with the same term length. However, don’t panic if that’s not what you want: You have up to 10 days after the CD has matured to withdraw your money penalty-free and park it in your own bank account (whether it’s with Live Oak Bank or not).

It’s easy to overlook Live Oak Bank for other larger, more established consumer banks like Ally or Discover Bank. But Live Oak has some of the best CD rates around, and the best savings account available on the market today.

Lest you be scared away by its smaller name, consider this: This tiny-but-growing bank is getting rave reviews from customers and employees alike. It carries an “A” health rating, and has a top-notch online banking portal. About the only thing missing is a checking account to let you seamlessly do all of your daily banking with this great company.

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.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here