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Saturday, November 28, 2020

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  • I had never used a high-yield savings account until recently, but now my husband and I keep our emergency fund there as well as the profits from the sale of our first home.
  • After we sold our first house, we planned to put our profits toward our current mortgage, but then COVID-19 happened and our financial situation became more unstable.
  • We’ve decided to save the money from the sale of our house — $80,000 — in an American Express high-yield savings account for now and use it to pay bills if we need to.
  • Find out who has the best high-yield savings account right now »

We’re living in strange times. COVID-19 is coursing around the world, the stock market is crashing (and then rebounding), individuals are out of work, and financial stress is high. 

Financial advice seems to come in two extremes: “Keep your cash” and “It’s a great time to invest.” There’s one safe way to make some money on your money without the risk of investing, though: putting your cash in a high-yield savings account.

I’ll be the first to admit that I hadn’t used a high-yield savings account until recently. Mainly because I’ve never had enough cash sitting around that I felt it made sense to throw it in a savings account that earned interest (although really, every little bit counts!).

Saving money and selling our first home

But over the course of the past year, my husband and I started saving more aggressively, pulling the down payment for our current home out of savings so we didn’t have to wait to sell our first home. We also saved enough to have a six-month emergency fund, on top of the down payment. 

After our first house sold, we had every intention of putting the profit from that sale towards our current mortgage. But then COVID-19 happened, and along with it came unprecedented economic insecurity.

My husband can work from home, but he works in sales, so it’s likely that his income will take a dip until this unpredictable time passes. That’s why, instead of dumping all that money into our mortgage as we originally planned, we have decided to keep it in the event that we need it to pay our bills.

Putting our money in a high-yield savings account

We’ve decided to invest some of the money we made on the sale of our house, and put the rest into our high-yield savings account to beef up our emergency fund. Down the road, we’ll look at putting that money towards our current mortgage.

So what is a high-yield savings account? For those of you unfamiliar with them, they’re essentially the same as a typical savings account but with a higher interest rate.

APYs on high-yield savings accounts have dropped since the Fed slashed interest rates in response to COVID-19, but high-yield savings accounts still earn up to 20 times more interest than typical bank savings accounts. It’s an easy way to earn money on your money in a safe and predictable way. 

Choosing our high-yield savings account

Although it may be difficult to find a local credit union or bank that offers high-yield savings accounts, you can certainly look there first. I personally love doing our banking through our local credit union and try to support the local industry as much as possible.

If you can’t find a local bank or credit union offering one, there are plenty of options online. When deciding which bank to go with, I wanted to use a company we already had experience with. I have used Capital One, Citibank, and American Express for credit cards, and compared these three. 

When we started looking, Citibank was offering the highest interest rate of the bunch. Although initially the no-brainer decision seemed to be to go with Citibank, after doing some more research I realized that you also had to open a checking account and keep a required minimum balance to get the top rate, which didn’t interest me. 

In the end I decided to open an American Express high-yield savings account as it had a higher rate than Capital One, and I deposited $80,000 into it. Rates have dropped since we opened the account, but we could end up making about $1,000 in interest this year. Although that doesn’t seem like a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, it’s still extra money we wouldn’t have had before opening up this account.

It only takes a few minutes to open a high-yield savings account online and it’s an easy way to earn money without taking on additional risk during this time.

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