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Ultimate Guide to Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

With reporting by Hannah Rounds and Brittney Laryea

Becoming a schoolteacher is heralded as a rewarding profession but not one that often comes with a large paycheck. Starting salaries for public school teachers range from $27,000 to $48,000, according to the National Education Association. And yet, teachers who graduate with a Master in Education carry an average of $50,000 in student loan debt.

With salaries like these, it’s no wonder teachers can struggle to afford their student loan payments. Thankfully, classroom teachers qualify for many debt forgiveness programs. These programs can help give teachers an extra boost to help them pay down debt while working.

These are the most important student loan forgiveness programs for teachers, which we’ll review in detail in this guide.

To skip ahead to the program you’re interested in, just click the links below.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a 2007 program that originally promised to forgive federal student loans for any employees of nonprofit or public sector companies. That, of course, includes teachers.  Under the program, borrowers who made 120 on-time payments would ultimately qualify for loan forgiveness.

However, the program’s future is now uncertain. A proposed education budget from the White House appears to eliminate the program, and it is not yet clear whether or not enrolled workers will have their loans forgiven as promised. Any budget will have to receive Congressional approval, which means we may not have a certain answer for months to come.

How do l know if I’m eligible?

Teachers at nonprofit schools are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This includes public and private nonprofit schools. To qualify, teachers must make 120 on-time payments while working full time in a public service role.

The 120 payments do not have to be consecutive. However, you must pay the full amount listed on your bill. Additionally, your loans must be in good standing when you make the payment.

IMPORTANT: You can only qualify for loan forgiveness if you are enrolled in a qualified income-driven repayment option.  Learn more about income-driven repayment plans here.

Also, payments only count toward forgiveness if your loan is in active status. That means any payments made while loans are in the six-month grace period, deferment, forbearance, or default do not count toward forgiveness.

How can I be sure my employer is covered by PSLF?

There has been a lot of confusion about which employers are considered nonprofit or public service organizations. To be sure your employer is eligible, you should submit an employment certification form to FedLoan Servicing.

Although the future of the loan forgiveness program remains uncertain, borrowers may still want to prepare for a positive outcome and enroll in hopes that the program will continue.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?

After 120 payments, the government will cancel 100% of the remaining balance and interest on your Direct Federal Loans.

Direct Federal Loans include: Direct Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.

Will I have to pay taxes?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is completely tax-free. You will not see an increased tax bill the year your loans are forgiven.

How to claim Public Student Loan Forgiveness

As the program launched in 2007 and requires 10 years of on-time payments, the first group of graduates who could be eligible for PSLF will begin submitting their applications in 2017.

But don’t expect it to happen automatically. Even if you qualify for loan forgiveness, the government will not automatically discharge your loans. You need to submit the PSLF application to receive loan forgiveness.

The applications for loan forgiveness are not yet available. The U.S. Department of Education will make them available before October 2017.

What if I have a Parent Plus, Perkins or FFEL loan?

As it stands, some types of federal student loans — such as Parent PLUS, Perkins and Federal Family Education Loans — are not included under the PSLF program. One way to get around this is by consolidating those loans through the federal direct consolidation program. If you take this route, the entire consolidation loan will be forgiven.

PSLF works best in conjunction with an income-based repayment plan. These plans lower your monthly payments.

Since you will qualify for loan forgiveness, this means more money in your pocket. Just remember, you must keep your loans in good standing — making 120 on-time consecutive payments — to qualify for forgiveness.

Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness

The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program encourages teachers to work in the neediest areas of the country. Teachers who qualify can have up to $17,500 in federal loans forgiven after five years.

How do I know if I’m eligible for Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness?

Teachers must complete five consecutive years of teaching at a low-income (Title I) school. If your school transitions off the list after your first year of teaching, your work in that school still counts toward forgiveness.

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans can be forgiven. Loans must have originated after October 1, 1998. This is important for anyone who hasn’t paid off loans and wants to consider teaching as a second career.

Your loans may not be in default at the end of your five years of teaching. The only exception includes loans that are set up in a repayment arrangement.

You qualify for teacher loan forgiveness as long as you are on a qualified repayment option. These include the standard 10 year repayment plans or the payments required by an income-based repayment plan. If your loan goes into a default, a repayment arrangement works with this program.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?

To receive the full $17,500 in forgiveness, you must meet one of two criteria: either work as a highly qualified math or science teacher in a secondary school, or work as a qualified special education teacher for children with disabilities.

Other highly qualified teachers can have up to $5,000 of loans forgiven if they work in Title I schools.

You’ll notice that all teachers must be “highly qualified.” To meet the highly qualified standard, you must be licensed in the state you work, hold a bachelor’s degree, and demonstrate competence in the subject(s) you teach. Do you need to check whether you’re highly qualified? The U.S. Department of Education explains qualification in detail.

Will I have to pay taxes?

The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program forgives your loans and does not result in a taxable event.

How to apply

Qualified teachers must submit this application with administrative certification. Be sure you work with your school’s administration in advance.

Tips and tricks

Consider teaching at a Title I school directly after graduation. The loan forgiveness may help you achieve debt freedom within five years. Consider an income-based repayment program to lower your payments while you’re teaching.

Teacher Cancellation for Federal Perkins Loans

If you’re a teacher who took out a Federal Perkins Loan from your school, you may qualify for loan cancellation. Teachers can cancel up to 100% of their Perkins Loans after five years.

How do loans become eligible?

The teacher cancellation program for Perkins Loans is one the most lenient programs for loan forgiveness.

You will qualify to have loans forgiven if you meet any one of these three requirements:

  • You work full time in a low-income (Title I) school.
  • You work full time as a special education teacher.
  • You work full time in a designated shortage area (such as math, science, foreign language, bilingual education, or any shortage area declared by your state).

If you work part time at multiple qualifying schools, you may qualify for loan cancellation.

Your loans may be in a grace period, deferment, or any qualified repayment plan at the time of discharge. They may not be in default.

Also, you must be enrolled in a qualified repayment option. Your payment plan could be the standard 10 year repayment plans or an income-based repayment plan. If you qualify for deferment, your loans may still be eligible for cancellation.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?

Over the course of five years, 100% of your Federal Perkins Loan will be forgiven. The discharge occurs at the end of each academic year. In years 1 and 2, the government discharges 15% of the principal balance of the loan. It cancels 20% of the loan in years 3 and 4 of service. The final year, the remaining 30% of your loan will be canceled.

In most cases, the five years of service do not have to be consecutive. However, this isn’t always the case. The university that issued your Perkins Loan administers the loan cancellation program. That means you need to check with your alma mater for complete details.

Will I have to pay taxes?

This program forgives your loans and does not result in a taxable event.

How to apply

You must request the appropriate forms from the university that holds the loans. If you don’t know the office that administers Perkins Loans, contact your university’s financial aid office.

Tips and tricks

If your Federal Perkins Loan qualifies for deferment, take advantage of this option. Under deferment, you don’t have to make any payments on the loan. At the same time, the government pays any accruing interest. Teachers who qualify for deferment can have 100% of their Perkins Loan forgiven without ever paying a dime.

TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant isn’t like other loan cancellation programs. Under the terms of the program, you accept the money during your college years. Eligible students can receive a grant of up to $4,000 per year of education. After you graduate, you agree to work as a teacher for four years in a high-need field in schools that serve low-income families.

As long as you keep your end of the bargain, you don’t have to pay the money back. Otherwise, the grant transforms into a loan. If you’re planning to become a teacher, this can be a great opportunity. But you need to understand the details before you accept the grant.

How do I qualify for a TEACH Grant?

To qualify for a TEACH Grant, you must enroll in a teacher education program, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, maintain a certain GPA (usually 3.25), and agree to a work requirement.

When you accept a TEACH Grant you agree to work as a teacher in a high-need field serving low-income families. You must complete four years of full-time teaching within eight years of graduation.

In this instance, you take the money first and agree to do the work later. That means that you’re taking on a risk.

You must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, and you must complete a training and counseling module from StudentAid.gov. Pay attention to the training; it will help you understand the risks of the TEACH Grant.

What happens if I change my mind?

If you don’t keep up your end of the bargain and meet all of the work requirements, the funds get converted into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. What’s worse? The interest begins accruing from the point you received the grant. That means you’ll have the principal and interest to pay.

Don’t take a TEACH Grant unless you plan to meet the work requirements.

Will I have to pay taxes?

TEACH Grants are nontaxable education grants. However, you cannot claim a tax credit for education expenses paid by the grant.

Tips and tricks

The TEACH Grant offers a great way to graduate debt free, but you must commit to follow through. Don’t take the grant money unless you know that you can work as a teacher for at least four years.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs by State

Several states offer generous loan forgiveness opportunities. You can use these programs in conjunction with the federal programs above. Qualified applicants might achieve debt freedom in a few years with these programs. These are some of the highlights of state loan forgiveness programs.

If your state isn’t listed, check out the database at the American Federation of Teachers. They keep track of most major scholarship and loan forgiveness opportunities for teachers.

Arkansas State Teachers Education Program

The Arkansas State Teachers Education Program (STEP) helps teachers with federal student loans pay back their loans. Teachers must work in geographical or subject areas with critical shortages.

Arkansas teachers with federal student loans can receive loan repayment assistance if they serve geographical areas with teacher shortages. They can also receive repayment assistance if they have licensure or endorsements in designated subject areas.

Eligible teachers can receive up to $3,000 per year that they teach in critical shortage areas. There is no lifetime maximum of loan forgiveness. Licensed minority teachers can receive an additional $1,000 for every year that they qualify for STEP.

Arkansas Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP)

The Teacher Opportunity Program, or TOP, awards tuition reimbursement grants up to $3000 of out-of-pocket expenses to licensed Arkansas classroom teachers and administrators with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Arkansas classroom teachers and administrators who declare an intention to continue employment as a classroom teacher or administrator in Arkansas after completing their program are eligible for TOP. Applicants must also have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA in the courses funded by the TOP grant when they apply.

Applicants who meet all requirements can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses up to $3000 for courses related to employment. The grant reimburses educators up to 6 college credit hours each academic year.

Arkansas administrators and educators can find more information about TOP on the Arkansas Department of Higher Education website. Applicants must complete and submit an application to The Arkansas Department of Higher Education by June 1 each year.

Delaware Critical Need Scholarships

The Critical Need Scholarship program reimburses Delaware teachers for all or part of tuition and registration fees paid for courses that contribute toward the completion of a Standard Certification.

Full-time employees of a Delaware school district or charter school who teach on an Emergency Certificate in a critical need area as defined by the Delaware Department of Education. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.0 GPA.

The scholarship forgives all or part of tuition and registration fees paid up to $1,443 for undergraduate coursework or up to the cost of three credits per term for graduate coursework, not to exceed the cost of three credits at the University of Delaware.Courses must contribute toward the completion of a Standard Certification.

Teachers can find more information and application instructions here. You must apply through the school district or charter school where you are employed. The application cycles twice each year; one deadline is in January and the other is in June.

Illinois Teacher Loan Repayment Program

The Illinois Teacher Loan Repayment Program offers up to $5,000 to Illinois teachers who teach in low-income schools in Illinois. This award is meant to encourage the best teachers to serve students in high-need areas.

The Illinois Teacher Loan Repayment Program is a unique loan forgiveness matching program. Teachers must meet every qualification to receive Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness. In addition, teachers must have served all five years in a low-income Illinois school.

Teachers who meet all requirements can receive federal loan forgiveness up to $5,000. You must apply for Illinois loan repayment funds within six months of receiving federal loan forgiveness.

Iowa Teacher Shortage Forgivable Loan Program

Iowa offers student loan repayment assistance to state-certified teachers as an incentive for educators to teach in subjects with a shortage of instructors through the state’s Teacher Shortage Forgivable Loan Program.

Current Iowa teachers who began their first teaching position in Iowa after July 1, 2007 and are completing studies in a designated shortage subject area are eligible for the Teacher Shortage Forgivable Loan Program.

Teachers must have a balance on either a Direct Stafford Loan or Direct Consolidation Loan and agree to teach in the shortage subject area upon graduation. For 2016 graduates, the maximum award is $6,858.

Recipients are awarded up to 20% of their remaining loan balance annually, up to the average resident tuition rate for students attending Iowa’s Regent Universities the year following graduation.

Teachers can find more information on the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website. The 2016-17 application window is between January 1 and March 31, 2017, for the academic year. Recipients must reapply each year.

Maryland Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program

Maryland offers loan repayment assistance to excellent teachers who teach STEM subjects or in low-income schools.

Only teachers who earned a degree from a college in Maryland or a resident teacher certificate from the Maryland State Department of Education qualify for this award. Additionally, qualified Maryland teachers must serve in low-income (Title I) schools or other schools designated for improvement. Alternatively, licensed teachers who work in designated subject areas such as STEM, foreign languages, or special education can qualify.

To qualify, you must earn less than $60,000 per year or $130,000 if married filing jointly.

Qualified teachers can have up to $30,000 repaid over the course of three years. The repayment assistance you receive depends on your overall debt load.

Total DebtOverall Award LimitYearly Payment
$75,001 – Over$30,000$10,000
$40,001 – $75,000$18,000$6,000
$15,001 – $40,000$9,000$3,000
$15,000 – Below$4,500$1,500

The Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program offers some of the most generous loan repayment terms. However, the program has stringent eligibility requirements. To find out more about your eligibility, visit the Maryland Higher Education Commission website.

Mississippi Graduate Teacher Forgivable Loan Program (GTS)

The Graduate Teacher and the Counseling and School Administration Forgivable Loan Program (GTS/CSA) was established to encourage classroom teachers at Mississippi’s public schools to pursue advanced education degrees.

Disclaimer: Due to budget constraints, only renewal applicants will be offered funds from the GTS program for the 2017-18 school year. No awards will be made to new applicants. It’s not clear whether the GTS program will resume offering funds to new applicants in the future.

Current full-time Mississippi public school teachers earning their first master’s degree and Class ‘AA’ educator’s license in an approved full-time program of study at a Mississippi college or university are eligible for the GTS program.

Selected applicants are awarded $125 per credit hour for up to 12 credit hours of eligible coursework.

Teachers can find more information about GTS program on the Rise Up Mississippi website. Complete and submit the online application with all supporting documentation by the year’s stated deadline. The application must be completed each year to remain eligible.

Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program (MTLR)

The Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program, or MTLR program, helps teachers pay back undergraduate student loans for up to four years or $12,000.

Disclaimer: Due to budget constraints, only renewal applicants will be offered funds from the MTLR program for the 2017-18 school year. No awards will be made to new applicants. It’s not clear whether the MTLR program will resume offering funds to new applicants in the future.

Mississippi teachers who currently hold an Alternate Route Teaching License and teach in a Mississippi teacher critical shortage area or in any Mississippi public or charter school if teaching in a critical subject shortage area are eligible for the MTLR program. Perkins and Graduate-level loans are not eligible for repayment.

Recipients can receive a maximum $3000 annually toward their undergraduate loans for up to four years or $12,000.

Teachers can find more information on the Rise Up Mississippi website. Complete and submit the online application by the year’s stated deadline. The application must be completed each year to remain eligible.

Montana Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program

The Montana Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program encourages Montana teachers to serve in high-needs communities or in subject areas with critical shortages. The program provides direct loan repayment for teachers who meet the requirements.

Licensed Montana teachers who work in “impacted schools” in an academic area that has critical educator shortages. Impacted schools are more rural, have more economically disadvantaged students, or have trouble closing achievement gaps.

Montana will repay up to $3,000 a year for up to four years.

New York City Teach NYC

Teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education who work in specified shortage positions can receive up to $24,000 in loan forgiveness over the course of six consecutive years.

Teachers must work in a New York City school in one of the following designated shortage areas:

  • Bilingual special education
  • Bilingual school counselor
  • Bilingual school psychology
  • Bilingual school social worker
  • Blind and visually impaired (monolingual and bilingual)
  • Deaf and hard of hearing
  • Speech and language disabilities (monolingual and bilingual)

The NYC Department of Education will forgive one-sixth of your total debt load, each year for up to six consecutive years. The maximum award in one year is $4,000. The maximum lifetime award is $24,000.

North Dakota Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program

The North Dakota Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program encourages North Dakota teachers to teach in grades or content levels that have teacher shortages.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction identifies grades and content areas with teacher shortages. Teachers who work full time as instructors in those grades and content areas in North Dakota can receive loan forgiveness.

Teachers can receive up to $1,000 per year that they teach in a shortage area. The maximum lifetime award is $3,000.

This program is administered by the North Dakota University System. To get more information, teachers should visit the North Dakota University System website, call 701-328-2906, or email NDFinAid@ndus.edu.

Oklahoma Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program

Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program, or TSEIP, is a legislative program carried out by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to help attract and keep mathematics and science teachers in the state.

Oklahoma state-certified classroom teachers who are not yet certified to teach math or science are eligible for TSEIP. Teachers must also agree to teach in an Oklahoma public secondary school for at least five years.

TSEIP reimburses eligible student loan expenses or a cash equivalent. The amount reimbursed varies from year to year.

Teachers can find more information on about the TSEIP on the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education website. Fill out and submit the Participation Agreement Form to your institution’s TSEIP coordinator no later than the date of your graduation from a four-year college or university in Oklahoma.

South Carolina: Teachers Loan Program

The South Carolina Teachers Loan awards forgivable student loans to students studying to become public school teachers. The program was created as an incentive for state residents to pursue teaching careers.

South Carolina school teachers and residents enrolled at least half-time at an accredited institution. Students must already be enrolled in a teacher education program or express an intent to enroll in a teacher education program. If already certified, you must seek an initial certification in a different critical subject area.

Freshmen and sophomore recipients can borrow $2,500 for each year, all other recipients can borrow $5,000 each year, up to $20,000. Loans are forgiven only if teachers work in an area of critical need.

Teachers can find more information on about the Teachers Loan Program on the South Carolina Student Loan website.Download and complete the application and submit it to South Carolina Student Loan.

South Carolina Career Changers Loan

The South Carolina Career Changers Loan awards forgivable student loans state residents who wish to change careers to become public school teachers. The program was created as an incentive for state residents to pursue teaching careers.

South Carolina residents who meet all requirements for the Teachers Loan, and have had a baccalaureate degree for at least three years. In addition, you must have been employed full-time for at least three years.

Recipients can borrow up to $15,000 per year up to $60,000.

South Carolina residents can find more information on about the Teachers Loan Program on the South Carolina Student Loan website.Download and submit a completed application to South Carolina Student Loan.

South Carolina PACE Loan

The South Carolina Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) loan reimburses individuals who have completed a PACE program. Those who are interested in teaching who have not completed a teacher education program may qualify to participate in the PACE program.

Teachers must be enrolled in the South Carolina Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) program and have received an Educator’s Certificate for the current year. You must be teaching full-time in a South Carolina public school.

Participants can borrow up to $750 per year, capped at $5,000.

Teachers can find more information on about the PACE Loan program on the South Carolina Student Loan website.Download and submit a completed application to South Carolina Student Loan.

Tennessee Math & Science Teachers Loan Forgiveness

The Tennessee Math & Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is offered through the Tennessee Student Assistance Coalition. The program awards up to $10,000 of forgivable loans to public school teachers working toward an advanced degree in math or science or earning a certification to teach math or science.

Tenured Tennessee schoolteachers working toward an advanced degree in math or science or earning a certification to teach math or science at an eligible institution. Recipients Must work in a Tennessee public school system for two years per each year of loan funding received.

Recipients are awarded $2,000 per academic year up to $10,000.

Teachers can find more information on the Tennessee Student Assistance Coalition website. Teachers must reapply for the program each academic year. The application has two cycles; one deadline is in February, the other is in September.

Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program encourages Texas teachers to serve high-needs areas. Qualified teachers can receive up to $2,500 in loan repayment per year with no lifetime maximum.

Any Texas-based teacher with outstanding loans can apply for loan repayment assistance. However, funds are given out with priority to teachers who work in shortage subjects in schools with at least 75% economically disadvantaged students. Shortage subjects include ESL, math, special education, science, career education, and computer science.

If funds remain, they are given out in the following order:

  1. Teachers who work in areas with 75% or more economically disadvantaged students in nonshortage subjects.
  2. Teachers who work in shortage subjects in schools with 48.8%-75% economically disadvantaged students.
  3. Teachers who demonstrate financial need.

Eligible teachers can receive up to $2,500 in loan forgiveness each year with no lifetime maximum.

West Virginia Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program

West Virginia teachers who work in critical need positions may qualify for the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Loan Assistance Program. This scholarship helps qualified teachers pay back student loans.

Teachers and school professionals who work in a designated critical position can qualify for the Underwood-Smith scholarship. Critical positions include all teachers in underserved districts and certain teachers who teach subjects with designated shortages.

Qualified teachers can receive up to $3,000 per year in federal loan forgiveness and up to $15,000 over their lifetime.

West Virginia teachers can learn more about the scholarship on the College Foundation of West Virginia website. The most recent list of critical needs can be found here.

Pros & Cons of Student Loan Forgiveness

While some or all of a student loan balance magically disappearing is a dream for many Americans, student loan forgiveness programs aren’t always a walk in the park. Here are the pros and cons.

Pro: Poof! Your debt is gone.

A huge upside of student loan forgiveness is obvious: borrowers can get rid of a significant amount of student loan debt. Beware of caps on the total amount of debt that can be forgiven with some programs. For example, the federal government’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program caps loan forgiveness at $17,500.

Con: Eligibility

It’s tough to first qualify and then remain eligible for student loan forgiveness. For example, teachers are eligible for the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, but those who got teaching degrees before 2004, only qualify to have $5,000 worth of loans forgiven. To top that, borrowers must also remember to update their repayment plans each year or risk losing eligibility for the program.

Pro: No tax…sometimes.

The federal repayment plans don’t tax the forgiven amount as income, so you won’t need to pay taxes on the forgiven balance there. However, other programs may not grant the same pardon. If your loans are repaid through a different program, you might be required to count the money received towards your income and pay taxes on it. Look at the program carefully and prepare to set aside funds in case you do need to pay up.

Con: Limited job prospects

Loan forgiveness is give and take. You might be limited to teaching in a particular subject or geographic location for a period of time in order to get your loans forgiven. This could mean relocating your family or a long commute if you unable to live near the location. If you fall out of love with teaching, you might be stuck with the job, just to get your loans paid off.

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Strategies to Save

99% of Savings Accounts Don’t Beat Inflation: Here Are Some With Higher Rates

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

savings account
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Inflation — or the increase in prices and the decrease in the purchasing power of money — is an economic concept commonly discussed in the news and among most adults as it affects cost of living, finances and savings. Right now, the inflation rate is 2.3% annually and has been over 2% for more than a year, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

In comparison, the average savings account rate is still only 0.26% for nearly 9,000 savings accounts at banks and credit unions across the U.S. For certificates of deposit (CDs), the news is a little better. The average rate is 1.04% (for a one-year CD) among nearly 7,000 banks and credit unions.

While savings account and CD rates are finally starting to increase, very few banks and credit unions offer rates that will outperform the rate of inflation. In a new study, MagnifyMoney sifted through more than 15,000 personal savings accounts and one-year CDs to see where one could earn enough on their savings to keep up with the rate of inflation of 2.3%. Overall, the results were disappointing.

Key findings

  • The average savings account rate is only 0.26%.
  • The average one-year CD rate is only 1.04%.
  • Only 0.4% of the nearly 9,000 savings accounts reviewed last month offered an annual percentage yield (APY) greater than the inflation rate of 2.3%. Often, that savings account rate was capped at the first $500 to $5,000 on deposits.
  • Only 3.4% of one-year CDs were yielding 2.3% or more in November 2018.
  • Credit unions and online banks make up most, though not all, of the savings accounts and CDs that outpace inflation.
  • Some of the best rates are offered by credit unions, for which membership for many may not be possible.
  • Half of the savings accounts reviewed yield 0.15% or less annually.
  • Half of the one-year CDs reviewed yielded 1.00% or less annually.
  • Even though some of the one-year CDs reviewed are offering yields greater than the inflation rate of 2.3%, many interest rate observers expect inflation to increase even faster in the months ahead, meaning that inflation may still get the better of these deposits.

Breaking down the data

Let’s look at some data visualizations that highlight some of the key findings of this study. These three charts below will show you:

  1. The distribution of CDs with the best rates by financial institution (i.e., brick-and-mortar banks, online banks, credit unions)
  2. Distribution of 366 savings account yields
  3. Distribution of 396 one-year CD APYs

Check out this chart that shows which CDs beat inflation by financial institution type. Only 14 brick-and-mortar banks offer rates that compete with the current inflation rate.

This chart displays the distribution of savings account yields as of October 2018. Only seven savings accounts surveyed offer 2.3% or more.

You can see the distribution of one-year CD APYs across 396 CDs in the chart below.

Why many savings accounts and CDs aren’t outpacing inflation

Now that we’ve looked at the data and seen the statistics on savings account and CD rates compared to the inflation rate, let’s discuss two reasons why many savings accounts and CDs are not outpacing inflation.

Big banks play on convenience

Brick-and-mortar banks often compete over convenience, rather than on deposit rates. The price of offering a branch or ATM in as convenient a location as a Starbucks may be more affordable than offering better rates. When a bank snags new business because it’s a convenient option, customers may be less inclined to leave for a better rate.

The largest banks, which represent the largest share of low rate deposits, also have an interest in getting funds into their brokerage and investment accounts, rather than high-yield deposit accounts. In a brokerage account, the bank can earn money on trading commissions and fees on funds.

Online banks, regional banks and credit unions looking to compete with larger banks can’t win when it comes to the number of branches and locations they offer. Often, they don’t have a brokerage arm either. So they compete for new customers by offering attractive rates on deposits.

Inflation rates are increasing faster than interest

If the interest paid on your savings account does not keep up with the rate of inflation, the purchasing power of your savings will decrease over time. For example, if you buy a one-year, short-term CD at 2.5% but inflation increases from 2.3% to 4% within the year, there is no way for your investment to keep up — even with a higher earning rate.

6 standout banks with a high-rate savings or CD account

Putting your money in a savings account or a CD is almost always a better option than keeping your money at home. Savings accounts offer more flexibility and allow you to withdraw your money frequently with limited penalties. A CD often offers higher interest rates but limits access to your funds until the CD term expires.

Based on the data and findings from the MagnifyMoney study, where can one go to get savings account or CD rates that beat inflation? While the majority of banks and credit unions are not offering high-rate savings or CD accounts, here some financial institutions that stand out.

Savings account options that outperform inflation

If you are looking for a savings account that offers a high yield and flexible access to your money, here are options that may be right for you. Just be aware that income from bank accounts is taxable, so even if the headline rate is above inflation, your net return may be below inflation depending on your tax situation.

Vio Bank

The High Yield Online Savings Account from Vio Bank carries a 2.35% APY for all balances. It takes just $100 to open this account and there’s no monthly fee, making Vio Bank an accessible and low-cost option to earn a savings rate this high.

CIT Bank

Another high-yield account to consider is CIT Bank’s Savings Builder account. It offers a 2.25% APY on a tiered basis — savers can earn this high rate by either maintaining a balance of $25,000 or higher or depositing $100 or more into the account each month. It takes just $100 to open a Savings Builder account, and it has no maintenance fee.

Popular Direct

One of the highest savings rates we could find is offered by Popular Direct, the online arm of Popular Bank. It offers a 2.36% APY on its Plus Savings Account, and interest compounds daily. You’ll need to deposit a minimum of $5,000 to open this account, and maintain a balance of $500 or more to get the $4 monthly service fee waived if you.

CDs options that outperform inflation

If you are looking to save your money in a CD and can agree to the terms, these three banks or credit unions are offering rates that outperform inflation.

PenFed Credit Union

For a one-year CD, PenFed Credit Union offers a 2.80% APY and requires just $1,000 to open a CD. This rate outperforms the inflation rate (2.3%) significantly.

Live Oak Bank

Next is another bank with high-rate CDs, Live Oak Bank. Its 12-month CD comes with an APY of 2.85% and requires a minimum opening deposit of $2,500.

Greenwood Credit Union

Greenwood Credit Union is offering a 12-month CD term with a 2.25% APY. The minimum opening deposit is $1,000.

Let’s look at a real-world example. If you were to deposit $10,000 in a one-year CD at Greenwood Credit Union with a 3.00% APY, you’d earn $300 after 12 months.

Based on the results of this study, there are very few (.4%) brick-and-mortar banks, online banks and credit unions that offer high-yield rates on savings accounts and CDs. In most cases, the inflation rate of 2.3% is higher than interest rates being offered. Based on the last year, the inflation rate has stayed above 2%, while savings account rates average only 0.26% and one-year CD rates average 1.04%, according to the MagnifyMoney study.

Still, some financial institutions offer rates that outperform the inflation rate. Check out all your options using the MagnifyMoney savings accounts marketplace. You can also check out some credit unions and online banks that offer high-yield rates for one-year CDs using MagnifyMoney’s CD rates comparison tool.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney surveyed roughly 9,000 personal savings accounts and 6,000 one-year CDs of banks and credit unions available in the U.S. to determine the percentage of products with annual percentage rates that are greater than that of inflation, as measured by the September 2018 Consumer Price Index annualized rate of 2.3%. Banks were surveyed Oct. 30, 2018.

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.

Sage Evans
Sage Evans |

Sage Evans is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sage here

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Reviews, Strategies to Save

BB&T CD Rates and Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

Trying to find BB&T CD rates
Source: iStock

As you may know if you’ve done a search for BB&T CD rates, their website is not a helpful place to turn for information. Beyond a basic overview of their CDs on their website stating that they have CDs with terms ranging from seven days to five years, they do not give details on their current rates. BB&T did not respond to email and phone inquiries from MagnifyMoney asking why the bank does not publish its CD rates online. When we called their customer service number, a representative said BB&T’s CD rates change on a daily basis and said the best way to learn about CD rates is to call or visit a local branch.

So that’s what we did.

We reached out to BB&T branches on December 6th. After conducting this research, it’s not surprising BB&T makes their CD rates hard to find — they’re terrible.

BB&T CD rates and products

BB&T offers CD terms ranging from as short as seven days to as long as five years. They have eight CD options, each with different investment goals.

7-day to 60-month

For short-term investments, BB&T offers CDs ranging from seven days to 60 months. These personal CDs offer a fixed rate of return along with the flexibility to focus on developing either a short- or long-term investment.

BB&T CD Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

6 Months

0.05%

$1,000

1 Year

0.10%

$1,000

18 Months

0.15%

$1,000

2 years

0.20%

$1,000

3 Years

0.30%

$1,000

4 Years

0.30%

$1,000

5 Years

0.30%

$1,000

Not only can you find better CD rates at other banks and credit unions for each of the terms BB&T offers, you can get those better rates with smaller minimum deposits. BB&T’s offerings are far from the best in every term length above — you can see some of the top options in our monthly roundup of the best CD rates.

With the seven-day to 60-month BB&T CDs, there are no penalty-free options for withdrawing your funds prior to the CD reaching maturity. The early withdrawal penalty is the lesser of $25 or 12 months of interest for longer-term CDs. So with smaller initial deposits, early withdrawal penalties will negate any interest you may have earned.

Can’t Lose

As the name of this CD implies, whether rates go up or down, you can’t lose. Well, actually, you can: The APY is so low, you’re almost certainly going to lose money to inflation.

At the 12-month mark of the CD’s term, you may make one withdrawal without paying any fees. So if the market rate is higher than what you’re currently getting, simply withdraw the money and reinvest at the higher rate.

If, however, the interest rate you’re receiving is better than what’s currently available, you also have the option of making a second deposit into the Can’t Lose CD, up to $10,000. This locks in the rate for the new investment amount for the remainder of the term. So whether rates go up or down, you’ll lock in the higher rate.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

30-month "Can't Lose"

0.25%

$1,000

No penalty for one
withdrawal after 12 months

Still, you can find many CDs with better APYs than BB&T’s Can’t Lose, whether you’re looking for a 12-month investment or longer.

Stepped Rate

Laddering is a way to stagger your CD investments so you’re able to take advantage of increasing rates. With the Stepped Rate option from BB&T, laddering is built into the CD product. The initial CD starts out at a lower rate and increases each year. For example:

Months

APY

12

0.30%

24

0.40%

36

0.55%

48

0.75%

As of December 6, 2018

This product also allows you to make an additional deposit each year (up to $10,000). So if the interest rate you’re receiving is better than the market, you can invest more money into your existing CD to make a higher return. But if the current CD market is offering better rates than your existing CD, you can simply take advantage of that offer and still make a higher return.

In addition, you may make a withdrawal from what you initially deposited into your Stepped Rate CD after two years. So, again, if the market changes dramatically, you may withdraw your money with no penalty and reinvest in a better option.

Or you could create a CD ladder on your own, choosing CDs with better rates than BB&T’s — higher rates are certainly available.

Add-on

The Add-on CD option from BB&T offers a 12-month CD at 0.10% and an opening deposit of $100. You’ll need a BB&T checking account and a $50/month automatic deposit from your checking account into the CD. To get a personal account, you’ll just need to set up direct deposit or maintain a $1,500 balance.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

12-month Add-on

0.10%

$100

Greater of $25 or
6 months’ interest

As of December 6, 2018

Home Saver

If you’re in the market for a new home, and you want to earn a little more interest on the money you’re saving, consider the Home Saver CD. Starting with as little as $100, you’ll be able to deposit money earmarked for your new home every month and earn 0.40% APY. With this CD, as long as you’re withdrawing the money for use toward the purchase of your new home, you won’t pay any penalties for the withdrawal. But you will need a BB&T checking account set up for a monthly deposit of $50 into your Home Saver CD.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

36-month Home Saver

0.40%

$100

No penalty for
home purchase

As of December 6, 2018

College Saver

Similar to the Home Saver CD, the College Saver CD is meant for parents or students saving for college. It offers the benefit of starting at a higher APY (0.40%) with the flexibility of withdrawing the money up to four times per year to pay for the cost of attending school. As with the Home Saver, you’ll need to have a BB&T checking account with an automatic monthly deposit of $50. The College Saver offers terms of 36, 48, and 60 months.

CD Term

APY

Minimum
Deposit Amount

Withdrawal
Penalties

36-month College Saver

0.40%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

48-month College Saver

0.45%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

60-month College Saver

0.50%

$100

No penalty for
school costs

As of December 6, 2018

Treasury

This CD offers the ability to make additional deposits of at least $100 into your CD at any time and one monthly withdrawal without penalty. The CD has a six-month term with a variable interest rate tied to the U.S. Treasury Bill — if the rate goes up, you’ll make more money, but if the rate declines, you’ll make less. Right now, rates start at 1.96% and adjust quarterly. Throughout 2017, Treasury Bill rates increased almost every month and have continued to rise in 2018, reaching 1.969% in July. So this is a great option if you have the $5,000 minimum deposit amount and want a short-term investment with the option to add or remove funds from the CD.

CDARS

CDARS stands for Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service and protects your principal and interest by making sure your money is placed into multiple CDs across a network of banks to keep your CDs insured by the FDIC (maximum limit for each CD is $250,000).

Other things to know about BB&T CDs

Does BB&T allow customers to take advantage of rising rates once they’ve opened a CD?

BB&T has two CD options that allow you to take advantage of rising rates: the 30-month Can’t Lose CD and the 48-month Stepped Rate CD. Both allow you to make a withdrawal before the CD comes to maturity in case rates increase (terms apply). They also allow additional deposits in case rates drop and you want to invest more at the existing rate of your CD. However, the current rates on those products are very low, negating the value of their flexibility.

About BB&T

BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust Co.) is a North Carolina-based bank with locations in 16 states and the District of Columbia, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

BB&T offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android. While their website is easy enough to use, finding specific information, particularly about rates, is impossible. Their customer service number isn’t much help in that regard either, with most questions answered with a suggestion to visit a branch location. As a result, if you don’t live in an area with a branch, we don’t recommend using BB&T’s CDs. To find the BB&T branch closest to you, use their branch locator.

Pros and cons of CDs

A certificate of deposit (CD) may offer a higher return than you’ll get with your savings accounts, without the risk of loss that accompanies other investment options with higher return rates. The drawbacks associated with CDs are the inability to access your funds during the term of the investment without suffering a penalty and the risk of interest rates increasing while your money is locked into a CD for a specified term.

The bottom line: Are BB&T CDs right for you?

BB&T does offer some flexible deals to its customers, but in general, better CD rates can be found at both banks and credit unions with comparable terms. You can find them on our list of the best CD rates, which we update every month.

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.

Ralph Miller
Ralph Miller |

Ralph Miller is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ralph here

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Earning Interest, Reviews, Strategies to Save

Review of Live Oak Bank’s Deposit Rates

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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 Established2008
Total Assets$3.4B

LEARN MORE on Live Oak Bank’s secure websiteMember FDIC

Chances are you haven’t heard of Live Oak Bank. After all, this lender, based mostly on the web, has only been around since 2008, and it mostly focuses on giving out small business loans to businesses in specific industries, such as veterinary practices or craft breweries.That’s no reason to pass it up for your personal banking needs, however. In fact, this little gem of a bank has one of the best-kept secrets in the personal banking world: it has one of the highest savings account interest rates you’ll find from an online bank. (More on that below.) And, most of its other personal deposit accounts offer relatively high rates as well.Let’s take a more in-depth look at its deposit accounts to see if they’re right for you.
Live Oak Bank’s Most Popular Accounts

APY

Account Type

Account Name

1.10%

Savings

Live Oak Bank Business Savings

LEARN MORE Secured

on Live Oak Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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.

APY

Minimum Deposit

2.10%

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.

Term

APY

Minimum Deposit

6-month CD

2.35%

$2,500

1-year CD

2.85%

$2,500

18-month CD

2.90%

$2,500

2-year CD

3.00%

$2,500

3-year CD

3.05%

$2,500

4-year CD

3.10%

$2,500

5-year CD

3.15%

$2,500

  • 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

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Strategies to Save

Best Money Savings Apps

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

best mobile apps
iStock

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 brittney@magnifymoney.com

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Strategies to Save

The Ultimate Guide to Handling Your Emergency Fund

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

emergency fund
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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.
Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.
Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Synchrony

MySavings Account from MySavingsDirect

APY

2.05%

2.00%

2.05%

2.40%

Linked debit card?

No

No

Yes

No

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 DepositAccounts.com (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

Synchrony

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

$500

$2,000

No minimum deposit

No minimum deposit

APY range

0.60% APY — 3.15%APY

0.75% APY — 3.10%APY

0.35% — 3.10% APY

0.75% APY — 3.10% 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
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Carissa Chesanek is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Carissa here

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Strategies to Save

How a Joint Bank Account Works — And Why You Might Want One

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

What is a joint bank account?

A joint bank account is an account owned by two or more people allowing each of the owners to make deposits, withdrawals and other decisions. This could help make it easier to manage shared bills, meet a bank’s minimum account balance requirement, qualify for a higher interest rate or help reach a joint savings goal.

You don’t have to be married or even related to have a joint account depending on the type of account you choose. In this story, we’ll explain all the different types of joint bank account options you have, the rules you should know about and how to choose the right account for your needs.

Types of joint bank accounts

In most cases when you open a joint account you will have to select the subtype, which some banks may refer to as “titling.” A subtype dictates how the account will be handled when an owner dies, gets divorced or can’t make decisions on their own.

Many of the joint account types work similarly in that each owner has equal access to the funds. The key differentiator is what happens when one of the account owners dies — most importantly, and whether or not the funds avoid the probate process. Probate is the legal process of winding up a person’s estate after his or her death, said Atlanta-based attorney, Sydnee Mack, Esq.

Probate can be a lengthy and costly process, and one that most people try to avoid. According to the American Bar Association, the probate process could take six to nine months to settle, with larger more complex estates taking longer.

Below are some of the subtypes you may run into, what they mean and the differences between them:

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)

This account can be opened for two or more people and is the most common joint account option. Most banks, credit unions and even investment firms offer this option. Usually the account holders are married but this is not a requirement to open or maintain this type of account. This option is also common for adults taking care of their aging parents. When an account holder dies, the remaining portions pass on to the other account owner(s) and do not go to probate.

Joint Tenants in Common (JTIC)

Similar to JTWROS, the joint tenants in common account option gives multiple users equal to access to the account. The key difference here is what happens when one of the account owners die. Instead of the account automatically being split among the other owners, the deceased account owner’s portion will go to their estate and could be subject to the probate process.

If you’re looking to avoid any estate and probate issues, you could add a payable-on-death option. This will allow the funds to avoid probate and go directly to named beneficiaries.

Tenants by the Entirety (TBE)

Tenancy by the entirety is a Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship account but with additional protection, explained Courtney Richardson, a Philadelphia-based tax attorney and founder of The Ivy Investor. The tenants by the entirety option is only available for married couples.

“It’s meant to protect the marital assets from outside creditors because each spouse completely owns the property,” she said.

Because each spouse individually owns 100 percent of the property, as opposed to a 50/50 split like JTWROS, it is generally exempt from judgments, liens and other collection methods when one spouse is sued. When one spouse dies, the property goes directly to the other spouse without going through probate.Tenants by the entirety, however, may not be available in every state.

Joint bank account rules

The various rules between each account type can vary depending on the state and in some cases your bank. Generally speaking, with every account type, each joint owner has equal right to the entire account balance. Any account owner can withdraw or deposit as much as they like, even without the approval of the other joint owner. It is important to check with your state’s local laws; as mentioned earlier, not every state offers tenants by the entirety option.

Also, if you’re married and live in a community property state,  the rules could be very different. In most cases, if you have a divorce in a community property state with a joint account, the money is divided evenly, regardless of how much each person contributed. One of the only ways to circumvent this in a community property state is to keep the accounts separate and enter a prenuptial agreement. In both cases, you should contact an attorney in your area.

Here are some questions you should get answered before you open a joint account.

Questions for the bank:
What happens if I no longer want to be on the account with the other person(s)?
Are there any additional fees for holding a joint account?

Questions you should ask yourself and the other joint owner(s):
What are our goals for this account?
What are the rules for spending and withdrawing from this account?

Opening a joint bank account

The process for opening a joint bank account is nearly identical to opening an account for yourself. You will need the basic account opening information for all account owners such as Social Security numbers, physical address and email address. Most banks also require that each account owner is present to sign any documents. This process generally applies no matter which account title you choose.

Joint bank account pros and cons

Pros:

  • Joint bank accounts may help simplify your finances. If you and your joint owner are splitting multiple expenses, both of you could deposit the money into one account and pay the bills from that new account.
  • A joint bank account may also help you save on fees. Many banks require a minimum balance or a monthly direct deposit to waive monthly fees. Combining your funds may allow you to stay above the minimum balance easier; if you don’t have direct deposit but the joint owner does, this may qualify you to avoid the fee.
  • Also adding joint owners also increases your FDIC coverage. The FDIC covers up to $250,000 per person, per bank, and per deposit type. If you have a joint account with someone, you are granted $250,000 per co-owner. A joint account with two people would have an FDIC limit of $500,000.

Cons:

  • Having a joint account could also cause some problems. If you feel your co-owner doesn’t put in their fair share, it may cause tension in the relationship. For example: If you put in 80 percent of the money into the account and the other owner puts in only 20 percent, that co-owner can legally spend 100 percent of the money and you may have very little recourse if they spend in a way that you disagree with.
  • Additionally, if you enjoy financial privacy to buy gifts or spend money on personal items, know that the co-owner will have access to see and monitor everything that is going on in the account.

Finding the best joint bank account

Joint bank accounts often have the same benefits as individual accounts at most banks. Very rarely will you see a benefit such as no ATM fees or no monthly maintenance fees simply because the account has an additional owner. The easiest way to find the best account option is to look for the best individual account and open it as a joint account.

As with any account, you’ll want to look for a bank that charges very few fees (if any) with benefits that help you accomplish your goals. For most people, this includes free bill pay, no ATM fees, a large number of ATMs, online account access and a low minimum balance requirement. If you’re looking to open a joint savings account, you might also look for a high interest rate. You can begin looking for the best bank accounts here.

Closing a joint bank account

The process for closing a joint bank account will vary by bank, though it is typically straightforward. However, if you are married and you’re closing the account due to divorce, the process could be different, especially in a community property state.

Most banks will allow one joint owner to close the account while others may require all account owners to be present to dissolve the account. Just like a regular bank account, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any pending automatic bills that are still attached to the account or any outstanding checks. These could trigger the account to stay open, and you could be hit with a fee as well. How the money is split between joint owners should be discussed in advance to avoid any confusion and strain on the relationship.

Joint bank account alternatives

Due to different spending habits and financial responsibilities, joint accounts aren’t for everyone. If a joint account does not work for you, you may want to consider a linked account. Linked accounts are tied together at the same bank but owned individually. This allows funds to be transferred between people more quickly while still maintaining your independence. You will need to check with your bank for their specific rules on which accounts can be linked and how many can be linked at one time.

A convenience account may be a fitting option for those who may be taking care of older family members. Convenience accounts grants someone the ability to write checks, pay bills and perform other banking functions for the account holder, according to the legal, regulatory and business company LexisNexis. These accounts do not offer a survivorship option and the additional person added to the account is not a co-owner. When the account owner dies, the money goes to the estate and not the convenience signer. The option isn’t common and is not available in every state. If it is an option in your state, you may want to speak directly with the bank manager since these accounts are so rare.

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.

Kevin Matthews II
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Kevin Matthews II is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kevin here

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Strategies to Save

Saving for a Baby: How Much it Costs to Have a Baby and How to Start Saving

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews 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.

Saving for a Baby
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The topic of money can cause stress when planning to start, or expand, a family. According to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’ll cost $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015. The big-ticket expenses detailed in the report are housing, food, child care and education, although this doesn’t include the cost of college.But before you get sticker shock and decide not to have a family, read on. Early financial planning can help you manage the costs of raising a child.

How much does it cost to have a baby?

How much does it all cost is the million-dollar question for expecting parents. The answer can vary due to your circumstances.

“Getting ready to have a baby has really taught me that anything and everything can happen,” said Stanton Burns, a CFP and owner of Oakview Wealth Solutions in St. Charles, Mo. Stanton is expecting his first child and said the biggest cost at the beginning is medical bills, especially if there are complications.

Young families who are experiencing other major life events such as getting married or buying a home can find medical bills particularly cumbersome.

“Nobody shared with me the cost of having a baby from pre-pregnancy to afterbirth. That was all very surprising to me for baby No. 1,” said Angela Furubotten-LaRosee, a CFP and founder of Avea Financial Planning. To avoid any surprises, Furubotten-LaRosee, based in Richland, Wash., recommends asking questions and staying informed throughout pregnancy and delivery.

Here’s a breakdown of common costs you should be aware of when saving for a baby. Insurance may help you cover some of these expenses.

The cost of childbirth

Before-birth costs: There are prenatal appointments, ultrasounds and other health-related expenditures for the mother and child that may come up as they’re needed. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments may be necessary as well. The average cost of IVF is $12,400 per cycle, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Beyond health care, there are items such as cribs, car seats and bottles you may need to buy.

Birthing costs: The cost of birthing a child may range from $2,000 to more than $20,000 depending on where you’re giving birth, the type of birth site (birthing center, hospital or somewhere else) and if there are complications during delivery. A 2015 study by the International Federation of Health Plans found the U.S. average for normal deliveries to be $10,808. Healthy pregnancies with normal deliveries generally cost the least amount of money. Cesarean sections with complications can cost more. Some of the cost may be covered by insurance.

Afterbirth costs: After the birth, follow-up appointments, immunizations, formula, diapers and child care costs are ones to factor into your budget. These costs will also vary depending on the health of the mother and baby.

The cost of adoption

Adoptions can cost relatively lower if you adopt from foster care. Expenses may be reimbursed through federal and state adoption assistance services in this scenario. If you opt for a private adoption agency, the cost could range from $20,000 to $45,000. This may include fees for counseling, child care during the transition, legal fees and other expenses for preparation and placement.

The cost of child care

Child care is an expense you should plan for very early, even before delivery, because of the logistics and costs. “Some places have a waiting list [of six months to a year], which is something you need to get ahead of if you plan to send your children to day care,” Burns said. According to the annual Care.com Cost of Care survey, “the average weekly cost for an infant child is $211 for a day care center, $195 for a family care center and $580 for a nanny.”

Start looking for options early to compare costs and secure your child a spot at a place you trust. To help with expenses, you may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit. The tax credit ranged from 20% to 35% of eligible care expenses. You may also be able to take advantage of a dependent care flexible savings account (DCFSA) option, which is an account with tax perks offered by some employers. A tax professional can help you devise a tax plan that’s most beneficial given your household size and income.

Understand how much your insurance will cover

The medical expenses listed above for you and the child may be offset by insurance depending on your health care plan. Reviewing your coverage should be at the top of your priority list.

Know the type of plan you have. Understand what’s covered (prenatal and postnatal) and know how your copays, deductibles and coinsurance work. Your provider may be able to give you a rough estimate of how much birth will cost given your health, delivery plan and medications.

Make appointments with the right doctors. Double-check that the providers you plan to use are covered by your insurance plan. Some plans only cover a specific group of doctors. Other plans allow you to see doctors out of network, but it costs you more.

Know how a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) impacts your wallet. High-deductible plans are ones that offer lower premiums. The trade-off is that you have to pay more before insurance kicks in. “If you end up racking up [medical] expenses, you may be paying a lot more out of pocket than you could have with a traditional plan that has a higher premium and lower deductible,” Burns said.

Burns recommends considering your insurance options before having a baby to see which type of plan will benefit you the most. Look at traditional plans to see if there are potential savings. If you have a HDHP, putting money away for medical bills is something you should also prioritize for out-of-pocket expenses. You can use a health savings account (HSA) to save for medical bills. We’ll talk about the HSA below.

What if you don’t have insurance? You may be able to qualify for health care through the marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Families who earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level may qualify for subsidized costs. You can find out if you qualify here. Families who meet low-income limits may also be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Review your savings options

There are several accounts you can consider when saving for a baby. You’ll want to save up for prenatal costs, delivery expenses and other baby needs as they grow. Some of these saving methods even have tax benefits.

Put away cash in an HSA if you have an HDHP. HSA accounts are only for high-deductible insurance plan holders. HSAs are triple tax-exempt, according to Burns. “You can put money into this account tax-free, it can grow tax-deferred and you can take money out of it without paying taxes either,” Burns said.

Your account must be used for qualifying medical related expenses such as prescriptions, medical care and dental care. You can carry over a balance in your HSA from year to year. Funds can be used for you, your spouse and dependents. The maximum you can deposit into an HSA for 2018 is $3,450 for individuals and $6,900 for families. Learn more about HSA accounts here.

Save in a medical flexible spending account (FSA). FSAs are accounts typically established by your employer to help pay for medical costs. Money contributed to the account by you or your employer is not taxed. Money from the account is meant to reimburse you for eligible medical expenses. The 2018 contribution limit for the FSA is $2,650 per year. Unlike the HSA, there’s a use-it-or-lose-it policy for the year unless your plan has a grace period or carryover provision. Learn more about the medical FSA here.

Use a DCFSA. The DCFSA is another account offered by some employers where you can put in pretax dollars to cover eligible child care expenses for children younger than 13. Eligible expenses may include before- and after-school care, baby-sitting and nanny expenses, day care and summer camp. If you are married and filing a separate return, you may be able to contribute up to $2,500 per year in this account. The contribution limit is $5,000 per household.

Open up a high-yield savings account. For other savings, a simple high-yield savings account could be the right place to put money away. A regular high-yield savings account doesn’t have the same tax perks, but you can get a higher return on your cash.

“The interest rates of most brick-and-mortar banks that you’ll have in your town aren’t that great. [An interest rate of] less than half a percent is what I’ve seen, but there are some online savings account options that offer higher,” Burns said.

Here are some of the best savings accounts to consider while you’re saving for a baby:

Institution
APY
Minimum Deposit Amount
High Yield Savings from Synchrony Bank
Synchrony Bank

2.05%

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations
Online Savings Account from Barclays
Barclays

2.05%

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Barclays’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations
Online Savings Account from Ally Bank
Ally Bank

2.00%

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Ally Bank’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations

You can check out some of the other best online savings accounts here. Account APYs on some of the highest yield savings accounts range from 2.05% to 6.17%.

Make a family leave plan with your employer

Coming up with a family leave plan is another factor to consider when weighing your financial options. You need to know how long your job will allow you to be on leave and how much you’ll get paid.

“[Some employers] say they’ll give you family leave of, let’s say, three months, but they’re only going to pay you for the first three weeks,” Burns said. Having a spouse go unpaid after having a baby can cause financial strain. Adjust your budget beforehand and bump up your savings to make up for any loss in income you may experience.

Save for education costs

Education costs may not be at the top of your mind when you’re waiting for the water to break, but the earlier you plan, the less financial burden you’ll encounter when it’s time for your children to go off to school. “Every dollar saved is one less dollar borrowed,” Furubotten-LaRosee said.

Savings may not cover the entire cost of tuition or college, but at least it’s something. “You could save in a traditional brokerage account. Because it’s long term, you have 18 years to invest in some blend of stocks and bonds that you’re comfortable with,” Furubotten-LaRosee said.

Here are a few accounts to consider:

Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts: The UGMA and UTMA are both custodial accounts you can use to invest money for your child. Accounts may be made up of mutual funds, stocks and bonds. UTMA accounts can also be used for real estate. You can generally contribute up to $15,000 per year per child without worrying about the gift tax. Couples can contribute up to $30,000 per year per child. The child typically gets access to the funds when they’re between 18 and 21, depending on the state where the account is opened. The money doesn’t have to be used just for school.

529 plan: A 529 plan lets you prepay tuition or set up an investment account with tax benefits for education expenses. Depending on your state, the contributions you make into the savings account may be tax deductible. The withdrawals may also be tax-free as long as the money is used for eligible education expenses. Eligible education expenses include tuition, computers and equipment, room and board, and fees. Up to $10,000 per year from a 529 plan may also be used to pay for tuition at a public, private or religious elementary or secondary school.

Each state has different programs, so you should educate yourself on the type of program offered and its tax perks, Furubotten-LaRosee said. Unlike the UGMA and UTMA account, there are penalties if your child doesn’t use the money for school. The child may pay state and federal taxes on the money, plus a tax penalty of 10%.

There’s a lot to think about when saving for a baby. Adding another person to the family is a lifestyle change. Take a look at your spending and budgeting habits to make room for upcoming expenses for the child, and review the options above to make a smooth transition.

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Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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

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