Sound money management is an important part of a solid financial strategy. Youâll want to have some of your money set for retirement in a traditional or Roth IRA. Still, other money might be saved for your kidsâ college, a down payment on a house or other longer-term goals. And then you might have an emergency fund as well as a checking account that you use to pay your monthly bills and expenses. Each of these buckets of money can be in a different kind of account. In this article, weâll look at some of the best checking accounts.
What makes a good checking account
Before we look at some of the best checking accounts, itâs a good idea to talk about what makes for a good checking account. A checking account is an account that you would typically use to pay your ongoing monthly expenses. It is more and more rare to actually write paper checks, and instead, you would typically use a debit card or cashless payment account linked to your checking account.Â
With a checking account, some features to look for include no monthly or maintenance fees, a low minimum amount to open an account, the rate at which they pay interest, and any account opening bonus they might offer. The interest rate that checking and savings accounts pay is tied to the federal funds rate and usually varies over time. As of 2020, the interest rates are quite low, and many checking and savings accounts do not pay any interest at all. Also keep in mind that even if your account pays you 1% interest, youâre still losing money to inflation. So you wouldnât want to keep any long-term investment money in a checking or savings account.
With all that being said, letâs take a look at some of the top checking accounts available.
Discover Cashback Debit
Discoverâs checking account offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month, which is one of the few debit cards that offer a reward on ongoing purchases. The Discover Cashback Debit account also comes with no monthly maintenance or other fees, no fees to withdraw at over 60,000 ATMs worldwide and no fees for insufficient funds.
CapitalOne 360 Checking
The CapitalOne 360 Checking account has no account minimums or fees. It currently offers a 0.10% APY on balances, though you can also open a no-fee CapitalOne 360 Performance Savings account which offers 0.65% APY as of the time of this writing. CapitalOne also has thousands of branch offices nationwide, so you can do your banking online or in-person. The CapitalOne 360 Checking account offers three different options if you happen to overdraft your account – Auto-Decline, Next Day Grace and Free Savings Transfer.
Fidelity Cash Management Account
Fidelityâs Cash Management Account also offers no account fees or minimum balances. It also reimburses ATM fees nationwide, though only offers 0.01% APY on account balances. Fidelity makes it easy to transfer money between your checking account, savings accounts and any retirement accounts you have with Fidelity. Plus, the Fidelity Rewards Visa offers 2% cash back on all purchases, which you can redeem into your Fidelity Cash Management Account or any other Fidelity account.
Wealthfront Cash Account
Wealthfrontâs Cash Account offers a high-interest checking account (0.35% APY as of this writing) with no fees. And Wealthfrontâs convenient account dashboard lets you easily move money between your checking account and any investment or retirement accounts that you have with them. They also offer a service where you can get access to your paycheck up to two days early if you direct deposit into your Wealthfront Cash Account
HSBC Premier Checking
HSBCâs Premier Checking account also offers no fee on ATMs nationwide or for everyday banking transactions, but does charge a monthly maintenance fee if you donât have at least $75,000 in combined accounts or direct deposits of at least $5,000 monthly. They are currently offering a promotion where you can earn 3% as a welcome bonus, up to $600. Youâll get 3% on qualifying direct deposits, up to $100 per month, for the first six months of having your account.
Chase Total Checking
Chase Total Checking is currently offering a welcome bonus of $200 when you open a new account and have a direct deposit made to your account in the first 90 days. Also, there is a $12 monthly maintenance fee which can be avoided if you either:
Have direct deposits totaling $500 or more
Have a balance at the beginning of each day of $1,500 or more
Have an average beginning day balance of $5,000 or more in any combination of all of your Chase accounts
The post Best Checking Accounts 2020 appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re one of those investors with very little time to research and invest in individual stocks, it might be a good idea to look into investing in mutual funds.
Whether your goal is to save money for retirement, or for a down payment to buy a house, mutual funds are low-cost and effective way to invest your money.
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What is a mutual fund?
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle in which investors, like you ad me, pool their money together. They use the money to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. A professional manages the funds.
In addition, mutual funds are cost efficient. They offer diversification to your portfolio. They have low minimum investment requirements.
These factors make mutual funds among the best investment vehicles to use. If you’re a beginner investor, you should consider investing in mutual funds or index funds.
Investing in the stock market in general, can be intimidating. If you are just starting out and don’t feel confident in your investing knowledge, you may value the advice of a financial advisor.
Types of mutual funds
There are different types of mutual funds. They are stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds.
Which funds you choose depends on your risk tolerance. While mutual funds in general are less risky than investing in individual stocks, some funds are riskier than others.
However, you can choose a combination of these three types of funds to diversify your portfolio.
Stock funds: a stock fund is a fund that invests heavily in stocks. However, that does not mean stock funds do not have other securities, i.e., bonds. It’s just that the majority of the money invested is in stocks.
Bond funds: if you don’t want your portfolio to fluctuate in value as stocks do, then you should consider bond funds.
Money market funds: money market funds are funds that you invest in if you tend to tap into your investment in the short term.
Sector funds. As the name suggests, sector funds are funds that invests in one particular sector or industry. For example, a fund that invests only in the health care industry is a sector fund. These mutual funds lack diversification. Therefore, you should avoid them or use them in conjunction to another mutual fund.
Index funds. Index funds seek to track the performance of a particular index, such as the Standard & Poorâs 500 index of 500 large U.S. company stocks or the CRSP US Small Cap Index. When you invest in the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund, youâre essentially buying a piece of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies. Index funds donât jump around. They stay invested in the market.
Income funds: These funds focus invest primarily in corporate bonds. They also invest in some high-dividend stocks.
Balance funds: The portfolio of these funds have a mixed of stocks and bonds. Those funds enjoy capital growth and income dividend.
Related Article: 3 Ways to Protect Your Portfolio from the Volatile Stock Market
The advantages of mutual funds
Diversification. You’ve probably heard the popular saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Well, it applies to mutual funds. Mutual funds invest in stocks or bonds from dozens of companies in several industries.
Thus, your risk is spread. If a stock of a company is not doing well, a stock from another company can balance it out. While most funds are diversified, some are not.
For example, sector funds which invest in a specific industry such as real estate can be risky if that industry is not doing well.
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Mutual funds are professionally managed. These fund managers are well educated and experienced. Their job is to analyze data, research companies and find the best investments for the fund.
Thus, investing in mutual funds can be a huge time saver for those who have very little time and those who lack expertise in the matter.
Cost Efficiency. The operating expenses and the cost that you pay to sell or buy a fund are cheaper than trading in individual securities on your own. For example, the best Vanguard mutual funds have operating expenses as low as 0.04%. So by keeping expenses low, these funds can help boost your returns.
Low or Reasonable Minimum Investment. The majority of mutual funds, Vanguard mutual funds, for example, have a reasonable minimum requirement. Some funds even have a minimum of $1,000 and provide a monthly investment plan where you can start with as little as $50 a month.
Related Article: 7 Secrets Smart Professionals Use to Choose Financial Advisors
The disadvantage of mutual funds.
While there are several benefits to investing in mutual funds, there are some disadvantages as well.
Active Fund Management. Mutual funds are actively managed. That means fund mangers are always on the look out for the best securities to purchase. That also means they can easily make mistakes.
Cost/expenses. While cost and expenses of investing in individual stocks are significantly higher than mutual funds, cost of a mutual fund can nonetheless be significant.
High cost can have a negative effect on your investment return. These fees are deducted from your mutual fundâs balance every year. Other fees can apply as well. So always find a company with a low cost.
How you make money with mutual funds.
You make money with mutual funds the same way you would with individual stocks: dividend, capital gain and appreciation.
Dividend: Dividends are cash distributions from a company to its shareholders. Some companies offer dividends; others do not. And those who do pay out dividends are not obligated to do so. And the amount of dividends can vary from year to year.
As a mutual fund investor, you may receive dividend income on a regular basis.
Mutual funds offer dividend reinvestment plans. This means that instead of receiving a cash payment, you can reinvest your dividend income into buying more shares in the fund.
Capital gain distribution: in addition to receiving dividend income from the fund, you make money with mutual funds when you make a profit by selling a stock. This is called “capital gain.”
Capital gain occurs when the fund manager sells stocks for more he bought them for. The resulting profits can be paid out to the fund’s shareholders. Just as dividend income, you have the choice to reinvest your gains in the fund.
Appreciation: If stocks in your fund have appreciated in value, the price per share of the fund will increase as well. So whether you hold your shares for a short term or long term, you stand to make a profit when the shares rise.
Best mutual funds.
Now that you know mutual funds make excellent investments, finding the best mutual funds can be overwhelming.
Vanguard mutual funds.
Vanguard mutual funds are the best out there, because they are relatively cheaper; they are of high quality; a professional manage them; and their operating expenses are relative low.
Here is a list of the best Vanguard mutual funds that you should invest in:
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Funds
Vanguard 500 Index (VFIAX)
Total International Stock index Fund
Vanguard Health Care Investor
Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund
If you’re looking for a diversified mutual fund, this Vanguard mutual fund is for you. The Vanguard’s VTSAX provides exposure to the entire U.S. stock market which includes stocks from large, medium and small U.S companies.
The top companies include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. In addition, the expenses are relatively (0.04%). It has a minimum initial investment of $3,000, making it one of the best vanguard stock funds out there.
Vanguard S&P 500 (VFIAX)
The Vanguard 500 Index fund may be appropriate for you if you prefer a mutual fund that focuses on U.S. equities. This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500, which means it holds about 500 of the largest U.S. stocks.
The largest U.S. companies included in this fund are Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Amazon. This index fund has an expense ration of 0.04% and a reasonable minimum initial investment of $3,000.
Vanguard Total International Stock Market
You should consider the Vanguard International Stock Market fund of you prefer a mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks.
This international stock fund exposes its shareholders to over 6,000 non-U.S. stocks from several countries in both developed markets and emerging markets. The minimum investment is also $3,000 with an expense ratio of 0.11%.
Vanguard Health Care Investor
Sector funds are not usually a good idea, because the lack diversification. Sector funds are funds that invest in a specific industry like real estate or health care. However, if you want afund to complement your portfolio, the Vanguard Health Care Investor is a good choice.
This Vanguard mutual fund offers investors exposure to U.S. and foreign equities focusing in the health care industry. The expense ration is a little bit higher, 0.34%. However, the minimum initial investment is $3,000, making it one of the cheapest Vanguard mutual funds.
Mutual funds are great options for beginner investors or investors who have little time to research and invest in individual stocks. When you buy into these low cost investments, you’re essentially buying shares from companies.
Your money are pooled together with those of other investors. If you intend to invest in low cost investment funds, you must know which ones are the best. When it comes to saving money on fees and getting a good return on your investment, Vanguard mutual funds are among the best funds out there.
They provide professional management, diversity, low cost, income and price appreciation.
What’s Next: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor
Speak with the Right Financial Advisor
If you have questions beyond knowing which of the best Vanguard mutual funds to invest, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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The post What Are Mutual Funds? Understanding The Basics appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
Although many people start New Yearâs resolutions in January, thereâs nothing magical about January with regards to self-improvement. Still, the best time to make a change or set a goal is today, so if youâre ready to level up in your life, thereâs no time like the present. Here are five financial habits that you might consider starting this year.Â
Commit to a written budget (and review it often)
The very first thing that youâll want to do is commit to a budget. Having a budget is the cornerstone and foundation for financial success. Knowing where your money is going (and not going) can help you understand where youâre at. If youâve had trouble making or keeping a budget, resolve to start a budget this year. A tool like Mint can be a great way to put your budget on autopilot.
Remember that a budget is just a tool to help you to not spend money on the things you donât find important so that you have money to spend on the things that you do find important. If you already have a budget, make it a habit to review your budget, at least monthly. That can help you identify where you might be able to make improvements.
As you start or recommit to your budget, make sure that it is written down. Budgets that are not written down, like goals, tend to fall by the wayside easily.
Start (or build) your emergency fund
Another great habit to get into in 2021 is starting an emergency fund. An emergency fund should be one of the very first things you do with any extra money you have in your budget. Even before working on eliminating your debt or saving for retirement, it makes a lot of sense to set aside money for emergencies.
A good rule of thumb is to start with a $1,000 emergency fund. It may not cover catastrophic emergencies, but it can help you to avoid having to spend on your credit cards when the unexpected happens. After youâve started that basic emergency fund, then you can continue to build it up while also starting to pay off debt or invest for the future. If you can, itâs a good idea to have a couple of months of expenses in your emergency fund. That way youâre covered for a while in case you lose an income source or have a major emergency.
Make a plan to eliminate your debt
The next habit to start or continue this year is to eliminate your debt. Depending on how much debt you currently have, it may not be realistic to pay off all of your debt in 2021. But no matter what, you should have a plan in place. There are a variety of different debt repayment strategies – the debt snowball and the debt avalanche among many. Itâs important to pick a debt payoff approach that works for you, and that you can stick to. Make it a habit to spend less than you earn and work towards becoming debt-free.
Spend with a purpose
Another great habit that can help you live within your means is to spend with a purpose. Spending with a purpose means that you are conscious with your spending. If you ever find yourself wondering where all your money has gone, you may benefit from being more deliberate with your spending.
Many people find success by setting a rule about any non-essential spending. For example, before you make any purchases besides essentials like rent, utilities, and debt payments, you must write it down. Just the act of writing it down (or taking a picture of it) is enough for many people to be more deliberate and conscious about what they choose to spend their money on.
Pay yourself first, and make sure to give yourself a raise
If youâre like many people, you may have good intentions of saving money each month, but at the end of the month, you find thereâs nothing left over after all the bills are paid. One habit that people who are successful financially have is to pay themselves first. Put your savings money aside at the BEGINNING of the month. Itâs a bit of a mental trick, but many people find that having that money out of sight helps them to save more.
Another financial habit to start is to always give yourself a raise. Whenever you get a raise at work or come across any âextraâ money, IMMEDIATELY put it either in your emergency fund or use it to pay down your debt. Putting any raise or extra money towards your savings (instead of increasing your standard of living) is a great habit to start.Â
This is a great habit to start, especially if you are young or just starting out in your professional life.Â Of course, paying yourself first and giving yourself a raise, doesnât mean that you have to only eat ramen or canât have nice things. But thanks to the magic of compound interest, the sooner you start to save and invest, the better off youâll be.
The post 5 Financial Goals to Start in 2021 appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Timing is everything and when it comes to buying a car, that saying couldnât be more true. Negotiating and haggling with car salesmen can reduce the price of what you have to pay for a new whip. But if you want to get the best deal on a car, youâll need to know when to show up to the dealership. Whether youâre buying a used vehicle or a brand new ride, weâll tell you the best time of year to buy a car. Being that the purchase of a car is rather pricey, consider meeting with a financial advisor in your area to discuss your finances beforehand.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Car?
If youâre on a budget, one of the best times to buy a new car is the end of a model season. New car models are often introduced each year between late summer and early fall. While you might miss out on some new features, buying a new car in August or early September may save you some money.
Waiting until the end of the year to buy a new car can work in your favor as well. Many car dealers offer year-end sales in an effort to get rid of older vehicles and make room for new inventory. Buying a new car on a holiday like Christmas Eve or New Yearâs Eve is another way to get a deep discount.
If you canât wait until December to get a new car, you might want to buy a car at the end of the month or the end of a quarter. If a salesperson hasnât sold very many vehicles in weeks, he or she might be willing to compromise and lower the price of the car you want to buy. Even if a salesman has managed to sell multiple cars throughout the month, he might want to close one last deal in order to meet a sales goal or score a bonus.
Shopping for a car at the end of the day may or may not be effective. If you stop by a dealership an hour before itâs set to close, a salesperson may be open to negotiating so that he or she can end the day on a high note. But if he or she is used to working long hours, your sales associate may not be that flexible.
The Best Time to Buy a Used Car
A recent study from iseecars.com ranked the best times to buy a used car. At the top of their list are holidays including Black Friday, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day. The months of November and December are also considered good times to purchase a used car.
According to the study, the months of April, May and June are some of the worst times to buy a used car. Specifically, Easter, Motherâs Day and Fatherâs Day are bad days for used-car buyers. But the No. 1 worst day to purchase a used car is the Fourth of July.
When Not to Buy a New Car
Generally, one of the worst times to buy a new car is in the spring. During this time of year, youâll see more people on car lots looking to soak up some sun and cash in their tax refunds. Other bad times to shop for new cars are whenever a particular vehicle is popular among consumers and whenever a new car model has been released.
Some people seem to think that buying a car on a rainy day is a good idea. But that approach usually doesnât work. In fact, you can expect car dealerships to be filled with people when thereâs bad weather simply because people tend to believe that theyâll find great deals on rainy days.
The best time of year to buy a car ultimately depends on your personal preferences and how much youâre willing to spend on a vehicle. If youâre rolling in dough and you want your car to have top-of-the-line features and amenities, you might want to buy a car as soon as a new model comes out. But if youâre trying to shave hundreds of dollars off your purchase price, experts say that itâs best to head to the dealership at the end of a period in the fall or winter, like the end of the month, quarter or year.
Our advice? When it comes to buying cars and getting your way at the dealership, it helps to know what youâre looking for. Doing plenty of research and knowing the make and model that you want your car to have can make it easier to figure out when to purchase your new vehicle.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Finances
If you find yourself having some financial struggles, perhaps itâs time to have an outside resource step in to help you out. Financial advisors typically have extensive experience in a number of important areas of finance, like tax planning, retirement planning, budget planning and more. SmartAssetâs advisor matching tool can set you up with as many as three suitable advisors in just 5 minutes. Get started now.
The best way to manage your money on both a short- and long-term scale is to create a firm budget. SmartAssetâs budget calculator can help you figure out exactly where youâre overspending.