For people looking to increase their savings and build a sturdy financial portfolio, there's an almost bewildering array of products and services available. But there's never been a better time to pay attention to financial planning. The first step is building up an emergency savings cushion of anywhere from three to 12 months of living expenses.
The experts tend to agree: Accumulate and keep that emergency savings in a money market or savings account that pays a competitive interest rate. "That way, your emergency savings are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which is important—you need to know you can count on those funds being available if something should happen," Chris Long, Certified Financial Planner of Long Financial Planning, Chicago, told Ally Bank in an interview. Look for money-market or savings accounts paying the highest rate possible, Long advised, and be sure the bank you choose makes it easy for you to contribute to those savings regularly. For many people, automatic electronic deductions are one approach that works.
Having money set aside for emergencies allows you to focus on other financial goals. "That cushion allows you to make much better, longer term financial decisions," Long explained, "because you know nothing can hurt you in the short run." For a wider perspective, it's never too late to work on "appropriate asset allocation," Long cautioned. That involves looking at all your financial goals: Want to buy a bigger house? Save for kids' college? "Setting those short-term funds aside in separate savings or money market accounts, where they can safely earn a competitive interest rate as you add to them, may help you achieve those goals."
Ally Bank, member FDIC