Saving money should be a regular part of your financial plan. Remember that “saving” is the term used to describe setting aside money for a short-term goal (5 years or less). It is difficult to save money as a student, but remember that even small amounts count. If you aren’t able to start saving now, incorporate regular savings into your plan when you are earning enough money that your basic expenses are covered and you have money left over.
A Starting Point
- Make sure that you are comfortable with your budget and are living within your means.
- Start by creating an emergency savings. You’ll want to grow this to be 3-6 months of basic living expenses.
- Anticipate financial needs that are outside of your basic living expenses and plan months in advance for these. Conference fees, interview wardrobe, and interview travel are a few examples.
There are many options for saving money. You can keep your savings in cash, but you won’t benefit from earning interest, and cash isn’t the safest way to keep a large sum of money. Some of the following tools require a larger starting balance, and some have higher returns than others. All of these options are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration, so the funds are safe up to a certain amount.
The below list is not an exhaustive list of saving tools, but rather the most commonly used tools. Remember that you can and should shop around and do your research. The options below are available at banks, but note that you are not obligated to purchase them at the bank that holds your checking account. Most banks will post their interest rates online.
Checking accounts typically offer low or no return, but are a safe way to keep money. Try to minimize fees on checking accounts.
Savings accounts typically offer a higher interest rate than a checking account, and may have restrictions on the account.
Money Market Accounts
Money market accounts (different from money market funds) involve you lending money to your bank to invest in corporate or governmental investments. They are likely to yield a higher return than a traditional savings account, but are more restricting in how you can access your money.
Certificate of Deposit (CD)
A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a tool to use when you know that you won’t need access to your money for at least six months to one year. CDs have higher rates of return, but the trade-off is that you will incur penalties for early withdrawal of funds.