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Strategies to Save

The Ultimate Guide to CD Ladders

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

The Ultimate Guide to CD Ladders

Certificate of Deposits (CDs) are some of the highest-yielding deposit accounts offered at most banks and credit unions. But, they come with a catch: your money is locked away for a certain period of time, and generally you can’t unlock it without paying an early withdrawal penalty.

It’s also no secret that interest rates are changing these days. That can also affect the returns you get from saving with CDs.Things only get more complex if you’re attempting to create what is called a CD Ladder, which can be used to take advantage of higher APYs while staggering investments so all your cash isn’t tied up for a very long time.

If you want to save money by creating your own CD ladder, you need to juggle your own financial goals with shifting interest rates and early withdrawal penalties. It’s possible that CDs may not even be the right investment tool for you. How are you supposed to decipher what’s the best course of action when there are so many competing possibilities? Fear not. We’ll help you decide whether CD ladders are the right investment tool for you and how to get the most out of them in this guide.

What is a CD ladder?

A CD ladder is a series of several CDs that are structured with varying terms. By staggering the terms, you ensure that each CD finishes its term at regular, predictable intervals. That way, you’ve got access to a steady stream of cash while still earning higher rates than you might through a regular savings or checking account.

The main disadvantage of CD ladders is that your money is locked away for a certain length of time. This differs for each CD and is called its term. CD terms can range all the way from one month to ten years. Generally, the longer the CD term, the higher the interest rate you can get.

Logically, you’d think that the best thing to do would be to put all your money in long-term CDs, right? Unfortunately, doing so has two specific risks.

You could miss out on rising rates. If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates (as they have been doing for the past two years), many banks and credit unions soon follow by raising the rates on their own deposit accounts. But, if you’re locked into a long-term CD, you could be stuck in a high-interest rate environment with the poor interest rates from yesteryear. That means you won’t be earning the maximum amount of interest possible.

It’ll be hard to tap into your savings in a pinch. Secondly, what if something happens and you need access to that cash? Can you predict what’ll happen in five years—a home purchase, major medical bills, or some other unexpected large expense? If your money is locked away in long-term CDs, you could be out of luck unless you pay a potentially-substantial early withdrawal penalty.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution that lessens these two risks: a CD ladder.

How to create a CD ladder in 3 easy steps

A CD ladder is a pretty intricate strategy. You split your money up into equal parts and match each pot of cash to a partnering CD. Then, you line them all up in a precise order and wait for the interest to accumulate.

Sound confusing? Let’s break it down with an example to show you exactly how it works with a basic five-year, five-CD ladder.

To start, let’s assume that you have $5,000 that you want to invest in a CD ladder (although this will work with any amount of money).

Step 1: Open up five separate CDs

Divide your cash into five equal parts. What we’re going to do is open five separate CDs. So, divide your cash into five equal pots of $1,000 each.

Search and compare to find banks with the best rates on CDs. Go to your bank of choice, either in-person or online. It’s possible to open up accounts at different banks or credit unions if they offer better rates on some CDs, but keep in mind that that will increase the complexity of this strategy. Open up five separate CDs with each pot of cash all at once and on a staggered schedule. Here’s what you’ll have when you leave the bank:

  • $1,000 in a one-year CD
  • $1,000 in a two-year CD
  • $1,000 in a three-year CD
  • $1,000 in a four-year CD
  • $1,000 in a five-year CD

Mark the date that you open all of these CDs on your calendar so that you can keep up with the CDs’ maturity dates.

Step 2: Each year when a new one-year CD matures, renew it ….and convert it into a five-year CD

Every year on your CD maturity date, one of your CDs’ terms will be up. For example, if you open a CD on May 26, 2018, then your one-year CD will come due on May 26, 2019. Your two-year CD will come due on May 26, 2020, and so on.

With most banks, when a CD becomes due, it will automatically roll over into another CD of the same term length (a one-year CD will automatically roll over into another one-year CD when it matures, for example). After it automatically rolls over, you will have a grace period of around one to two weeks where you can withdraw the money, add more money, and/or change the CD to a different term length — penalty-free.

Instead of letting your CD roll over into another one-year CD, you’re going to want to switch it up. Before the grace period ends, you’ll want to renew it into a five-year CD instead. Then, in 2020, you’ll do the same thing: you’ll renew the now-mature two-year CD into a five-year CD, and so on.

If you open up all of your CDs in 2018, it’ll look like this:

  • 2019: renew the one-year CD into a five-year CD
  • 2020: renew the two-year CD into a five-year CD
  • 2021: renew the three-year CD into a five-year CD
  • 2022: renew the four-year CD into a five-year CD
  • 2023: renew the five-year CD into another five-year CD

The reason we do this is because the five-year CDs pay out vastly higher rates of interest than the shorter-term CDs. If you can keep all of your money in the highest-earning CDs, you’ll get the maximum amount of cash possible.

Step 3: Decide whether you need to pull the money out or not

The other reason we do this strategy is because if we need to withdraw the money, we get free access to one new CD per year on our CD maturity date. In our example, that means you can withdraw $1,000 (plus whatever interest the CD earned) once per year without paying an early-withdrawal penalty.

Each time a CD becomes due, you should ask yourself: Do I need to withdraw this cash for any reason? If the answer is no, then keep your money in a CD ladder. If it’s not already invested into a five-year CD, then go ahead and renew it into a five-year CD. If it already is invested into a five-year CD, then just let it auto-rollover into another five-year CD. As long as you don’t want to withdraw the cash, your CD ladder will be fully on autopilot from this point forward.

Mini CD ladders: Explained

The five-year CD ladder sounds great, but if you’re like a lot of other people, you might need more frequent access to your money than once per year. That’s where a mini CD ladder might come in handy.

Rather than setting it up so that a new CD becomes due once per year, you can choose shorter term CDs and stagger them so that they mature every few months instead.

Let’s look at another example—the three-month, four-CD ladder.

You would divide your cash into four equal pools and open up four new CDs with these terms:

  • Three-month CD
  • Six-month CD
  • Nine-month CD
  • Twelve-month CD

One new CD will become due every three months. When it does, you would renew it as a 12-month CD with a higher rate. That way, you can access your money once every three months instead of once every year.

If you want even more frequent access to your money, it might be possible to restructure this in a different way. Some banks have one-month CDs, although they’re not as common as three-month CDs. If you open 12 one-month CDs and renew each of them into 12-month CDs, then you could even get access to your cash every single month instead of every three months. The downside of the mini CD ladder is that you won’t earn as much, because five-year CDs carry better rates than a twelve-month CD.

What is the best CD ladder strategy for me?

CD ladders are already pretty straightforward. Open CDs of different lengths, and renew them to longer-term CDs when they come due.

But, it might surprise you to know that there are a lot of different CD ladder strategies. Whichever strategy works best for you depends on your individual situation, and what financial possibilities keep you up at night.

For example, do you worry that you’ll make a mistake by locking your money away in low-rate, long-term CDs if interest rates start to rise (a fair concern, given recent decisions by the Federal Reserve)? Or are you the type of micro-manager who optimizes every little decision so that they can maximize their monetary returns?

If so, good news. These are some of the best CD ladder strategies for different people.

Best if you don’t need frequent access to cash:

The five-year, five-CD ladder

This is the baseline CD ladder strategy we outlined above. You open up five CDs with staggered term lengths so that one new CD comes due each year, and then renew it into a five-year CD. After four years, all of your CDs will be in five-year CDs earning the maximum amount of interest.

This type of CD ladder strategy works best for folks who know they won’t need very frequent access to their money. If you choose this strategy, it’s a good idea to keep a separate emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of expenses tucked away in a high yield savings account. You definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t access money for a year when you really need it.

Best if you need frequent access to your cash:

The five-year CD ladder with low early withdrawal penalties

One of the main reasons to invest in CD ladders is so that you don’t have to pay steep early withdrawal penalties. These penalties are typically tallied up as a certain number of months of interest depending on the term of the CD. For example, TD Bank will charge you 24 months’ worth of interest if you take your money out early from a five-year CD

These early withdrawal penalties are pesky enough, but high fees like this could actually eat into the principal you’ve deposited into the account, especially if you haven’t earned enough interest to at least cover the early withdrawal penalty. This means you might actually end up with less money than you deposited into the account at the end of the day—not to mention how it’ll hurt your returns even if you have earned enough interest to cover the penalty.

One way to get around this is to search for CDs with low early withdrawal penalties. What exactly is a low early withdrawal penalty? According to Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts.com (also a LendingTree-owned company), a below-average early withdrawal penalty for a five-year CD is six months or less.

Searching for CDs with low early withdrawal penalties is the best strategy if you want to earn the most money possible but also think that there’s a high likelihood you might need to break into one of your five-year CDs outside of the once-yearly maturation date. With this strategy, you will minimize your loss if and when you need to withdraw the money early.

Maximum work for higher yields:

Juggling CDs at multiple banks

It’s very possible that the top prize for highest CD rate for each term length in your CD ladder is held by a different bank. For example, Bank A might have the highest rate for one and two-year CDs, while Bank B might have the highest five-year CD rate.

If you’re an intrepid optimizer, it’s possible to earn the most money by splitting up your CDs among different banks, according to Tumin.

If it sounds a bit complicated, it is. “Each year, you’ll have to worry about transferring the money to the [bank with the] best five-year rate,” says Tumin. It also requires a lot of organization to remember the details of your many accounts. But, there is a way to limit the chaos.

Tumin’s recommendation is easy. “Choose at least two or three internet banks, but no more than three to keep things simple,” he says. “If one bank no longer becomes competitive, you can easily keep the CD ladder going with the other banks.”

It’s also a good idea to maintain a savings or money market account at the same bank for each of your CDs — as long as the account has no minimums and no monthly fees, since it will probably be empty much of the time. This bank account is strictly meant to be a temporary holding account for the CD money you hold within the same bank.

“If you need to access the money before maturity, it’s much easier to have the CD funds (minus the early withdrawal penalty) transferred to a savings or money market account that is at the same bank,” Tumin advises. “Once it’s in the savings/money market account, it’s easy to open a new five-year CD at another bank.”

Hedging your bets against rising interest rates:

The barbell CD ladder

The barbell CD ladder is the best CD strategy if you’re worried about rising interest rates while most of your money is locked away into lower-rate CDs. With this strategy, you divide your money yet again: half into a high yield savings account (a separate savings account from your emergency fund), and half into a five-year CD ladder.

The advantage of keeping your money in a high yield savings account is that if interest rates rise, you can immediately withdraw that cash when you see fit and invest it into CDs.

Of course, the trick is knowing when to pull the trigger and move your money from the savings account into a CD. If you do it too soon, interest rates may rise again, and if you’re too slow, you may lose out on potential gains. It’s a balancing act and since it’s impossible to predict the future, there’s no way you can really know when the right time is for sure. You just have to do it and hope for the best.

How do CD ladders hold up to other investments?

CD ladders are just one of many investment choices you can make. To see how they stack up compared to other common options, we’ll show you what you can theoretically earn in 10 years with a $10,000 deposit using each of the following choices: a five-year, five-CD ladder, the stock market, a high yield savings account, and just keeping the cash stuffed under your mattress.

Five-year, five-CD ladder

For this scenario, let’s assume that you start out with the standard five-year, five-CD approach. You will start by putting $2,000 each into five CDs of the following term lengths: one year, two years, three years, four years, and five years. Each year when a CD comes up for renewal, you renew it into a five-year CD.

After the fifth year, we’ll assume that you continue keeping all of the CDs in five-year terms for another five years. According to Ken Tumin, the average yield on a 5-year CD ladder is about 2%, so we are using that as the hypothetical return on investment. Of course, rates ebb and flow all the time, so this is merely an estimation.

Risk:

One of the safest options. The FDIC and NCUA insures your money up to $250,000 at each bank or credit union, respectively.

Reward:

$1,290

The stock market

For long-term investments (retirement, for example), the stock market remains the gold standard for investing. Over the last six decades, the S&P 500 (one of the most common measures of the stock market as a whole) has returned about 7% per year.

We can’t predict the market’s returns, obviously, but we’re going to assume that someone investing in a broad-based S&P 500 stock market index fund would earn 7% on their investments each year for 10 years. Here’s how they would fare.

Risk:

Very high. People can and do lose significant amounts of money in the short term while investing in the stock market.

Reward:

$9,671.51

High yield savings account

High yield savings accounts offer the maximum amount of liquidity. If you might need your cash at any moment, it’s a good idea to keep it in a high yield savings account. The tradeoff is that you’ll earn less interest than you might with the five-year, five-CD ladder.

We used the highest rate (1.50% APY; current as of 12/12/17) for personal savings accounts available nationwide that were listed on DepositAccounts.com. We assumed a $10,000 deposit saved up over a 10-year period.

Risk:

Very safe. Anything you keep in a bank (including CDs or savings accounts) is insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC or NCUA for banks and credit unions, respectively.

Reward:

$1,605.41

Under your mattress

Who hasn’t heard stories from their grandparents about saving up their extra cash in a hidden mason jar or under their mattress? Back in the days when banks failed in the Great Depression, losing your life savings was a real concern. Thankfully, these days the FDIC and NCUA programs make your deposits safe at each bank or credit union up to $250,000.

Now, the danger lies in not earning any interest on your money. Inflation eats away your money’s value at a rate of around 3% or more per year. That means if you’re not earning at least 3% interest, your money is probably losing value rather than gaining value.

If you started out with $10,000 in 2007 and kept it stuffed away in your home for ten years, here’s what would happen.

Risk:

Very unsafe. That money could easily be stolen or lost in a fire, not to mention what’ll happen as inflation erodes its value.

Reward:

$1,805.67

Is creating a CD ladder worth it?

Whether or not a CD ladder is worth it depends on your individual situation and what your goals are.

According to Tumin, there are four things you need to keep in mind when deciding if a CD ladder is worth it for you: liquidity (how easy it is to access your cash), simplicity (how much work do you want to put into pulling off a master-CD-ladder?), maximizing your yield, and your investment time frame (do you want to invest indefinitely, or complete the CD ladder at a certain point in time?).

We’ve outlined several CD ladder strategies above that you can use to meet your goals. Compare them to your other options: will keeping your money in a high interest savings account, the stock market, or some other investment option work better for you?

In general, CDs today are earning far below what they used to. In July 1981, for example, you could get a one-month CD on the secondary market (i.e., buying it from an individual who has a CD, rather than a bank or credit union) with a whopping interest rate of 17.68% APY. Today the rates for a similar three-month CD are averaging 0.240% APY—quite a difference!

That means that today, CDs are generally not going to be your highest-earning option. This is especially true if you hold a large number of short-term CDs, as the mini CD ladder strategy calls for.

“I don’t think other CD ladders with shorter-term CDs are worth it,” says Tumin. “They don’t really provide much more liquidity,” especially if you opt to invest in five-year CDs with low early withdrawal penalties.

In fact, almost all CDs except for five-year CDs earn even less than a high yield savings account. Currently, banks are offering as high as 1.50% APY on high yield savings accounts—just under the current average interest rate for five-year CDs (1.57% APY).

If your CD investing strategy involves anything other than holding long-term five-year CDs (not counting the start of the CD ladder strategy when you hold CDs of several term lengths), then CDs may not be worth it when compared to a high yield savings account.

FAQ: CD ladders

If you really are terrible at saving money, CD ladders can be a great way to keep you disciplined. The extra sting with the early withdrawal penalty might be enough to help you overcome the urge to pull the money out before its term has ended.
Yes. CD ladders work well as a savings strategy for large purchases. You will need to do a lot of planning, however, to start the CD ladder and make sure all of your cash is outside of the CDs by the time you need it.
Yes. The money you earn in interest from your CD ladders is taxable. Your bank or credit union will issue you a Form 1099-INT at the end of the year for you to report on your tax return.

A grace period is the amount of time you have to withdraw, add funds, or change the CD to a different term length after it has matured. You typically have a one to two-week grace period after your CD matures.

It’s called a “grace” period because usually your CD will automatically roll over into another CD of the exact same term length. Normally this means you would then owe early withdrawal penalties if you take the money out early. Instead, banks offer you a “grace” period where you can withdraw the money without paying any early withdrawal penalties.

There are several other types of CDs:

  • Callable CDs offer higher interest rates, but the banks may cash them out for you at any time if they desire.
  • Bump-rate CDs offer staggered, increasing interest rates over time.
  • No-penalty CDs have lower interest rates, but no early withdrawal penalties.

It is possible to use them in your CD ladder, however you need to choose these CDs carefully. For example, what kind of monkey wrench would be thrown into your plan if you invest in a callable CD and it is indeed cashed out by the bank early? Or, would a no-penalty CD really offer rates that beat out a high yield savings account?

A jumbo CD is just a regular CD, but for a very large amount of money. Each bank or credit union has their own definition of what a “jumbo” CD is. For example, to invest in a USAA jumbo CD, you’ll need to bring at least $95,000 to the table. CIT Bank, on the other hand, requires a slightly larger minimum deposit of $100,000 to qualify for a jumbo CD.

Jumbo CDs typically offer much higher rates than regular CDs and can help you earn even more money in a CD ladder if you’re able to take advantage of them.

It depends on the type of CD ladder you use, and the savings account you’re comparing it with. In general, though, the five-year, five-CD ladder strategy will beat out even a high yield savings account in the long run.

For most people, no. We compared the outcomes from a five-year, five-CD ladder above with the typical returns you could expect from a stock market. A hypothetical $10,000 investment in a CD ladder earns $1,531.11 in interest over a 10-year period.

Compare that to typical stock market returns for the same amount of time and money: $9,781.51. The stock market far, far outperforms the CD ladder. If you’re saving for a very long-term goal like retirement, it makes more sense to grow your money in a high-yielding investment like the stock market, even if it is riskier.

This post has been updated. It was originally published Dec. 19, 2016.

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Strategies to Save

What Should I Do with My Savings?

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

If you’re wondering what to do with your savings, we’d like to offer some tips on money management strategies you might consider adopting.

Keep your savings in a high-interest savings account

Keeping your savings in a high-interest savings account means you can earn the highest return on your money as possible. High-interest savings accounts offer some of the best interest rates on the market, and because they are highly liquid deposit accounts, you can access your money whenever you need to.

Advantages of a high-interest savings account:

  • Low risk: If you open a high-interest savings account at an accredited institution, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insurance will protect your savings up to the legal limit if that your bank fails, so it’s a very low-risk option for your savings.
  • High rates: According to the FDIC, the average APY for traditional savings accounts is 0.09%. Meanwhile, the best high-yield savings accounts available today can have an APY as high as 2.20%.
  • Easy access: Unlike less liquid options, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), high-yield savings accounts are highly liquid, which means you can withdraw your money whenever you need to.

What to watch out for with a high-interest savings account:

  • Fees: A high-yield savings account that does not charge fees is ideal. Do the math to determine if you’d really be making more over the course of a year after factoring in any fees.
  • Not an investment: The rates of interest you get with a high-interest savings account are pretty good, but they won’t grow your money at an appreciable rate over the long term. The interest on offer is enough to beat inflation.

Use your savings to build up an emergency fund

Building an emergency fund should be one of the main goals of your financial life. That makes building an emergency fund one of the most important things you can do with your savings. An emergency fund is like a personal insurance policy that prepares you for emergencies like unemployment, serious medical problems or divorce.

The amount of money you need in an emergency fund depends on your lifestyle and financial obligations. Here are some pointers to help you think about how much to save:

Emergency fund size

Who it’s best for

Three months

People with a steady job, no dependents or a dual-income family that could rely on the income of a single person.

Six months

Individuals with dependents or those with medical conditions that could necessitate regular, lengthy hospital stays.

Nine months

Freelancers or self-employed people whose income might depend on one or two cornerstone clients.

An emergency fund that’s built with your savings should help you avoid taking on high-interest debt when you face unexpected financial emergencies. And that brings us to our next point.

Use your savings to pay off high-interest debt

If you have money saved up and you also have a significant amount of high-interest debt — either from personal loans or credit cards — use some of your savings to pay down debt. How much you allocate to paying off debt depends on your cash flow, your debt repayment plan and factors such as your investment philosophy and how much you already have in an emergency fund.

Some high-interest debt you might want to tackle first includes:

  • Payday loans: If you are currently in a payday loan cycle, using your savings to boost your payments. Ending the payday loan cycle is crucial to your financial well-being.
  • Credit cards: If the interest you are earning on your savings is lower than the amount of interest you’re paying on your credit card debt, you’re losing money every month. That’s why it’s ideal to use extra savings to start eliminating your credit card debt.
  • Personal loans: If you’ve taken out a personal loan with a high interest rate, using some of your savings to make a lump sum payment toward the principal of the loan could help you get into a more secure financial position sooner.

Maximize your retirement contributions

Putting money into retirement funds is a great way to get the most out of your savings. If your employer offers matching contributions to your 401(k), you’ll want to contribute enough to get the full match. Contributing anything less than the full matching contribution limit means you’re leaving money on the table.

After you’ve maxed out your 401(k) contributions, you don’t need to stop there. You can save additional money for retirement by making contributions to an IRA.

When choosing an IRA, you can opt for a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which offer tax advantages depending on your situation. The difference is largely in tax savings. A traditional IRA reduces your tax liabilities today, while a Roth IRA is funded with after-tax dollars, which means eligible withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. Either way, you’re getting the most out of your savings.

Start investing in the stock market

Another way to maximize your savings is to invest. The stock market can be intimidating if you’re just learning how to make money in stocks; however, online stock brokers and apps can help you decide what to do with saved money. Here are a few investment apps that might be useful:

  • Robinhood: Allows you to invest in stocks, options or exchange traded funds (ETFs) commission-free and with a $0 minimum spend.
  • Acorns: Helps invest your spare change in ETFs. Though there are no trade fees, there are monthly fees of either $1, $2 or $3.
  • Stash: Stash allows you to invest in stocks, bonds or ETFs by help you buy fractional shares. Their pricing starts at $1 monthly.

When should you tap your savings?

Tap into your savings when emergency strikes, or when you need money for big life goals, like buying a home or paying for college. In addition, you should use your savings to support your quality of life in retirement.

When you lose your job or face major medical bills

Your emergency fund is in place specifically for moments such as job loss or medical emergencies. Common sense dictates you should cut back any expenses you can while you’re in between jobs or facing a serious illness. Depending on how you lost your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits, but these don’t always pay for all necessary expenses. Meanwhile, health insurance seldom covers all of your medical costs. These are the right moments to tap your savings or your emergency fund to shoulder the burden.

To meet your life goals

Everyone has different goals in their life that require advance saving to achieve it. This could be aspirations of homeownership or putting yourself or your dependents through post-secondary education. Maybe you dream of starting a business or perhaps you’re trying to start a family and need funds to do that. A big life goal is a great time to use your savings rather than using loans or credit cards to fund your dreams.

When you retire

Once you’re eligible to make withdrawals from your retirement savings accounts you’ll want to start doing so to help you reduce your work hours and enjoy the benefits of that time period in your life. Depending on what your retirement goals are you might also consider using funds from other savings accounts or investments to help make your life goals in retirement a reality.

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.

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Strategies to Save

Best Money Savings Apps

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

best mobile apps
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.

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