April’s not just about taxes. This is Financial Literacy Month, a great time to step on the path toward financial enlightenment. Here are four moves fit for a banking guru.
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Sync your bank accounts with a budgeting app such as Mint, Level Money or You Need a Budget. Apps like these provide an overview of expenses to help you avoid overspending and master savings goals.
Following lessons learned in high school, Zach Freeman says he “did a spreadsheet for a while, and it was incredibly tedious and time-consuming. I’d spend at least an hour or two a week just going through receipts and expenses and adding them up.”
After half a year, the Forth Worth, Texas, resident gave up on spreadsheets and started using the Mint app. This cut his budgeting time to 15 minutes a week.
Embrace mobile banking
Bank mobile apps let you check your account balances, send money and get updates on the go. For Mark Hayes-Curry, mobile banking helps him manage money daily.
When Hayes-Curry, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, swipes his debit card at a restaurant, his bank, Simple, quickly alerts him of the transaction, plus what a 20% tip would be, on his phone. Such alerts vary by bank; some allow you to track spending or low balances.
Open a high-interest savings account
Online banks offer rates as high as 1.10%, which is many times higher than those at major national banks. A recent NerdWallet study found that $25,000 placed in a high-yield savings account earned about $275 more per year than in a low-interest account. Open a second savings account to boost earnings. To become a banking guru, avoid fees from your accounts by satisfying any minimum balance or other requirements.
Build a CD ladder
Compared with a regular savings account, a certificate of deposit has higher interest rates. But it has a fixed term, from months to years, so accessing your money will trigger fees.
A CD ladder offers flexibility. Open five CDs of varying term lengths: Choose one-, two-, three-, four- and five-year terms. When the one-year CD matures, you’ll have cash if you need it. If not, reinvest those funds into a new five-year CD, and keep the cycle going the following year. After five years, a long-term CD is expiring every year.
Try one or more of these steps for Financial Literacy Month and increase your financial wisdom. As you become a banking guru, look inside yourself — and your bank accounts — to inspire financial changes for the better.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.