Banking 
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Brick and Mortar Bank Myths

In the last few years, I’ve reviewed several online banks from the gray beard ING Direct to the more recent Ally Bank and Sallie Mae. With each review, there invariably are commenters who are totally against online banks and bring up reasons why it’s a mistake to put your money with an online bank.

They cite reason after reason that brick and mortar is better, failing to recognize that the last online bank to fail was Netbank in 2007 (and hundreds of brick and mortar banks have failed since) and that despite all their concerns, online banks are FDIC insured. Well today I’m going to tackle many of these myths head on and show why they are either wrong or grossly exaggerated.

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 Investing 
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Fixed Income Strategies to Help Boost Savings Interest Rates

Savings Coin BoxIf you take the 120 minus your age investment allocation rule to towards retirement, the conclusion is that your investments should mostly be in safe “bond” investments and out of risky “stock” investments. Since you no longer have the time to wait out the volatile swings of the stock market, you are advised to be invested in “fixed income” investments, like bonds.

Unfortunately, even with all the strategies below, nothing replaces the dependability and safety of a high yield savings account. The days of exceptionally high yields protected by FDIC insurance are gone until we see the stock market reach its once lofty heights but hopefully some of these strategies can bridge the interest rate gap without introducing too much risk.

Fixed income investments are usually safe investments that give you a fixed rate of return. The safe part is really a relative term, as bonds are only as safe as the ability for the bond issuer to pay the fixed interest rate. The idea is that you pick stable companies or municipalities and you have a reasonable expectation that the interest will be paid. How do we use those principles to find similar “investments” to boost our savings rate?

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 Reviews 
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Sallie Mae Bank Review

Sallie MaeSallie Mae, normally known for their federal and private student loans, is entering the savings account area with a high yield savings account currently offering 1.35% APY with no monthly fees and no minimums. It’s your standard online bank offering with a pretty standard savings account rates. In scanning their list of offerings, the only thing that stands out is their 10% bonus for Upromise earnings, which can be substantial if you’re a big user of Upromise.

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 Bank Deals 
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Costco/Capital One InterestPlus Online Savings Account

Costco SignCostco and Capital One have joined forces to offer an InterestPlus Online Savings account that offers a fairly competitive 1.50% APY. It doesn’t appear that a Costco membership is required for this account but there is an incentive for members. If you are an Executive, you can get a $60 bonus. If you’re a Gold Star or Business member, then it’s only a $20 bonus. In terms of bonuses, these are probably the best you can expect for an online savings account but brick & mortar checking account bonuses (where you need to setup direct deposits and make bill pays) will usually pay far more (without a third party paid membership requirement).

This offer is attractive if you don’t already have an online savings account and you are already Costco member.

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 Banking 
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Highest Savings Account Rates

If you have fifteen minutes, you can be earning more interest on your savings account. Many Bargaineering.com readers are familiar with high yield savings accounts, so for the seasoned veterans you won’t get much out of this post (maybe this one on reward checking accounts is new to you?). In recent weeks, there’s been a huge influx of new readership and I wanted to take the time to introduce a concept that has been all the rage in personal finance – high yield savings accounts.

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 Banking 
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Online Banks Are Healthy, Growing, & 100% Safe

Hiding Piggy BankSo far, 145 banks and thrifts have been closed by regulators since the start of the credit crisis in 2008. One hundred a forty five. Every Friday, when the FDIC usually announces closures, for the last two years, we’ve expected at least one bank to fail… sometimes two. Last week, five banks failed, bringing the 2009 total to 120.

Scary huh?

So you might be surprised to learn that not a single one of those failures was an online bank. In fact, the last time an online bank failed was back in 2007 when NetBank of Alpharetta, GA was closed. It was acquired by another online bank, ING Direct. Many people would have you think that your money is safer earning 0% at your local bank than 2% at an online bank.

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 Investing 
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Best High Yield Savings Accounts Rates

These days, the best way to help your savings grow is by saving it in an online high-yield savings account. With interest rates as low as they are, you simply can’t get anything by putting it in your neighborhood bank. Online banks, with lower overhead, are still the best place to earn a much higher yield with absolutely no risk. After years of managing this list manually, we’re now happy to offer up this table that is updated daily with the highest rates you can find anywhere. The table is powered by Bankrate, an industry leader, and hundreds of banks are surveyed each time to ensure that the highest rates are displayed. Lastly, all of the banks on this list are FDIC insured so you know your money is 100% protected.

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 Banking 
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Are Online Savings Accounts Worth It?

Hand Painted Piggy BankMy friend asked me the other day whether I thought high yield savings accounts were worth it. He’s an engineer and a numbers guy at heart, so he appreciates the mathematical differences between an online savings account and your standard no-interest checking account. What he wanted to know was whether there were headaches involved in dealing with something that was online-only.

I think that as I’ve gotten older, the amount of headache I’m able to stand has dropped significantly. A few years ago, I’d be willing to stay on the phone for an hour with a Comcast rep arguing down my bill. I’d research purchases for hour, then wring my hands for days, and then research some more before pulling the trigger. Now? With all the other headaches I have, the last thing I want to do is add to the mix!

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