Banking

Creating a CD Ladder for Your Emergency Fund or Other Savings to Earn a Better, Safe Return

As I’ve mentioned before, my family has a pretty good sized cash emergency fund, somewhere around nine months’ worth of living expenses. Having that amount of cash available is a very nice security blanket for all of us, and in our savings account, it was earning roughly a 3% annual return. Safety, personal security, and …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

Personal Finance 101: Money Market Accounts Versus Normal Savings Accounts

Kathleen writes in with a good question: A lot of personal finance books I read suggest putting your savings – especially stuff like emergency funds – in money market accounts. I’ve looked into them but I can’t figure out what the difference is between a money market account and a savings account. Why is a …

What Features Are Most Important For Your Primary Bank? My Thoughts and Recommendations

As most longtime readers know, I’m a very happy customer of ING Direct for both my primary checking account and my primary savings account. Before I joined ING Direct, though, my primary bank was one of the largest banks in the United States, one that had a branch in the town where I attended college …

Categories: Banking

How to Budget Using ING Direct

As regular readers know, I’m a very happy user of ING Direct. They provide my checking services, my savings services, and all of my online bill pay services. They even allow me to set up sub-accounts so that I can save for specific goals. In my opinion, ING Direct is the best of the full-service …

Some Notes on SmartyPig

First of all, a disclaimer: while I’m not directly involved with SmartyPig, I did speak with the development team in detail during the development process and offered a number of suggestions and ideas, and I was kept abreast with their development along the way. This group sought my input during their process of growing from …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

The Fed Cuts Rates – What Does That Mean For Me?

Whenever the Federal Reserve makes a move, it dominates headlines. I watched CNN for a while yesterday while waiting for a meeting and they kept going back to the big news that the Federal Reserve cut the prime lending rate by 0.75%. Most news stories make it clear that this is theoretically beneficial to stocks, …

The Credit Check Situation

For the last week, there have been numerous reports of individuals who have opened Electric Orange checking accounts and after sixty days have had a credit check run on them. Here’s a typical example of such a report at Consumerism Commentary. In some cases, apparently, after this credit check, the Electric Orange account is closed. …

Categories: Banking, Credit Reports

The Big Switch: My Thoughts On Electric Orange After Moving My Primary Checking Account There

About a month ago, I switched my primary checking account from my local brick and mortar bank to ING Direct’s Electric Orange online checking. What is Electric Orange? Electric Orange is an online-only checking account offered by ING Direct. In short, that means you do all of your checking account business either online or with …

Categories: Banking

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 3: A Simple Mortgage Calculator

Regular compound interest is (basically) the way most loans and savings accounts work, including home mortgages. Here, we’re going to use a spreadsheet to calculate a home mortgage payment estimator (and even a full payment schedule) using the principles of compound interest. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter the following information into cells: In A1, …

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 2: Monthly Compound Interest, APRs, and APYs

Previously, we discussed how compound interest works on a year-by-year basis, but in the real world, interest is usually compounded more often than that. For many purposes, monthly compounding is used, so let’s look at monthly compounding. Fire up your spreadsheet and enter a few labels: In A1, enter Monthly Compound Interest Example In A3, …

An Introduction To Compound Interest With Spreadsheets, Part 1: Getting Started And Defining Compound Interest

Several readers have written me excitedly asking how exactly I do some of the calculations on this site and how compound interest works. Usually, I point them at various online calculators, but the truth of the matter is that a basic understanding of how a spreadsheet works and how compound interest works makes it possible …

How My ATM Card Directly Cost Me $30.28 In One Month – And How I Avoid Such Mistakes Today

While doing some calculations for my income taxes, I stumbled across the statement from my checking account for February 2006, just before my financial meltdown. Amused, I spent some time really looking at the staement when I noticed that there were several ATM fees on the bill and a few sales tax dings on those …

Categories: Banking

Thinking Of Making A Banking Change? Here’s How To Compare Competing Bank Accounts

Recently, I’ve received emails from people asking me what I think of various checking accounts, such as ING’s Electric Orange or EverBank. I realized that time and time again I used the same criteria to compare various checking and savings accounts, and thus I thought I would share these criteria with you. I rank these …

Categories: Banking

The HSBC Direct 6.00% APY Promotion

If you haven’t heard the news, HSBC Direct is running a promotion from January 29 to April 30, 2007. During that promotion, all new deposits earn 6.00% APY through April 30, 2007. Naturally, given my curious self, I couldn’t help but wonder how good of a deal this is, so I used a pretty standard …

Categories: Banking

How To Switch To A New Checking Account

I’m on the verge of taking the plunge and switching to ING’s Electric Orange checking account, but one thing has kept me from switching over: the hassle of moving all of my deposits and transfers to a new bank. Given that, I’ve prepared a plan for moving to a new checking account that should pave …

Categories: Banking

Weighing the Positives and Negatives of ING Electric Orange Checking

I’ve been weighing the positives and negatives of ING’s new Electric Orange checking account, which is now available to some existing ING Direct customers and will be available to everyone in a few months. Rather than repeating what’s already been said, I encourage you to read this fine summary of Electric Orange at The Sun’s …

Categories: Banking, Money

Two Banks Enter, One Bank Leaves: ING vs. HSBC in … Direct Thunderdome

Over the past few months, I signed up with both ING Direct and HSBC Direct in order to try out their online savings offerings. I had heard many positive reviews of the service at ING, but I was also stunned at the 5.05% APY interest rate being offered at HSBC. To make up my mind, …