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There was once a time when the word “millionaire” carried cachet. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was first used in French in the early eighteenth century and in English nearly a century later. Regardless of your station in French society in 1719, achieving a net worth of one million livres was notable.

The same would be true for one million U.S. dollars a century later. Only a small percentage of society could be listed within a roster of millionaires.

Millionaires are easier to find today. Inflation and the erosion of the dollar’s value — continuously, over the course of multiple decades — has put the goal of acquiring a million dollars within reach for more Americans. Of course, the club is no longer the exclusive party it once was. When the term became popular, the millionaires were most likely the heads of multi-national corporations. These are the same folks who are most likely to be multi-billionaires today.

Of course, a million dollars is still an admirable financial target. (I say “target” because I’m hesitant to call any financial milestone a goal. Goals are related to why one might set a financial target, not the target itself.) Outside of real estate equity, though, most households won’t have assets worth one million dollars.

It Isn’t Worth What It Once Was

This next part may sound odd, especially considering this is a country where 50 million people are living in poverty, according to the U.S. census. However, a net worth of one million dollars isn’t really a demarcation line between the rich and the not-rich.

Retiring with a net worth of one million dollars in investable assets might allow you to withdraw $50,000 a year for 20 years using the simplest calculation. That’s fine, except that an annual income of $50,000 while living in the United States would probably not provide the lavish lifestyle historically associated with the idea of the millionaire.

If you want to live the life of the upper class, you’ll need a net worth well north of one million dollars. That way, you can generate an annual income of six or seven digits.

Related: How Much Do You Really Need to Retire?

Millionaire Mystique

Yet the concept of the millionaire still carries some mystique. The success of the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko is evidence of this.

The 2010 edition of book is ranked #1 in wealth management by Amazon, even today. The book’s subtitle is “The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,” which is interesting. The authors didn’t seek out the “wealthy” for their advice and tips for this book. They interviewed mere millionaires.

The premise is that today’s millionaires achieve their status by living below their means, spending less than they earn, and making financial choices that weigh future possibilities against today’s media-driven desires.

The authors show that the neighbor with an old car still running well is more likely to be financially secure than the neighbor whose fancy car requires unaffordable lease payments. People become millionaires by owning small businesses rather than working for a large corporation in middle management.

There is nothing wrong with this advice. It may inspire some readers to get started making better financial choices. However, it won’t lead to “wealth,” as represented by the socially-inherited concept of the millionaire. If we want the best advice for creating a lifestyle in which money is no longer a concern and the fulfillment of desires is not limited by wealth, ignore the millionaires and look to the multi-billionaires.

Learn More: How to Build Wealth and Make Life Easier

Look Toward the Top

Forget about the neighbor who owns the auto repair business. Don’t waste your time looking for advice from financial bloggers like me. While keeping in mind that wealth itself is not a goal — your goal should be what you want to do with your life when you have access to as much capital as you need — take a look at the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans. Two categories stand out.

First, there are the business owners who started their companies small. Millionaires kept their businesses small, while these individuals, like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and the Waltons, took their businesses a few steps farther.

Next, the list includes people whose business is investing in businesses, like Warren Buffett and George Soros. Use your money — as well as other people’s money — to create wealth.

This is easier when you have a lot to give. Warren Buffett gets sweetheart deals on his investments because a billion dollars from Berkshire Hathaway is more newsworthy, media-positive, and encouraging to other mimicking investors than a billion dollars from a conglomerate of Chinese or Middle Eastern investors.

Don’t be fooled. You’ll need to work incredibly hard and be blessed with an inordinate amount of luck to become this wealthy. Paving your way to one million dollars, however, isn’t quite the challenge it once was.

Aim Higher

“Aim high” was the recruiting slogan for the U.S. Air Force, and it applies here.

Lionizing millionaires seems like a good way to come up with financial advice that applies to a mass audience. However, I can almost guarantee that today’s recent college graduate planning to retire with assets worth one million dollars forty years in the future will be gravely disappointed. It won’t be because he or she couldn’t meet that goal, either. It’ll be because the sum isn’t going to provide the financial security expected.

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Since many banks are constantly updating their interest rates offered on savings, money market and checking accounts, this chart should come in handy. On the 1st of every month, this page is updated to show the most accurate rate information available.

Deal of the Day: Earn 1.15% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account and up to a $400 cash bonus at CIT Bank.

This list is organized in two sections. The first section includes FDIC-insured savings or money market accounts and the second includes FDIC-insured checking accounts. Each list is sorted alphabetically and unless there is a notation listed, the APY rate applies to all amounts.

New for June 2017: Over the past 30 days Synchrony Bank made a big move, increasing the APY on its online savings account to 1.15%. That is one of the best rates available nationally.

Current rates

Use the table below to search for current interest rates available on money market accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit. For historical rates, scroll down.

Historical interest rates

Bank Account Name Tier Notes 6/1/2017 1/1/2017 1/1/2016 1/1/2015
Synchrony Bank Online Savings All No minimum balance 1.15% 1.05% 1.05% 1.05%
Ally Online Savings All No minimum balance 1.05% 1.00% 1.00% 0.99%
Ally Money Market All No minimum balance 0.85% 0.85% 0.85% 0.85%
American Express Bank High Yield Savings All 0.95% 0.90% 0.90% 0.80%
Barclays Online Savings All 1.05% 1.00% 1.00% 0.90%
Capital One 360 Online Savings All Formerly ING Direct 0.75% 0.75% 0.75% 0.75%
Discover Bank Online Savings All 1.01% 0.95% 0.95% 0.90%
GS Bank Online Savings All No minimum deposit 1.05% 1.05% N/A N/A
Everbank Money Market $5k to $10k Includes 1st year intro rate 1.11% 1.11% 1.11% 1.11%

Here’s a complete list of the banks and interest rates we track dating back to 2008:

Savings Account Rates

As you review the current and historical rates for savings accounts and money market accounts, keep the following in mind:

  • Fees: The best offers come with no monthly maintenance fees. Even a small fee can wipe out much of the yield, particularly in the current low rate environment. Before opening an account, make sure you understand what if any fees you’ll pay. The best savings accounts don’t charge fees.
  • Minimum Deposit: Many bank accounts require either a minimum deposit or a minimum balance going forward, or both. Be sure you know these requirements as you shop for the highest yield.
  • Tiered Rates: Some, but not all, banks offer tiered rates based on the amount of your balance. While one might assume that the rates go up as the balance goes up, that’s not always the case. Some banks actually lower the rate for balances over a certain limit.
  • Online Banks vs Traditional Banks: As a general rule, online banks offer the highest rates. Many brick and mortar banks offer yields as low as 0.01%. It’s as if they don’t want your money. In contrast, online banks offer yields of 1.00% APY or more.

Checking Account Rates

With checking accounts, the interest rates tend to be lower. That’s generally fine because most people don’t keep a lot of money in a checking account. Any extra money one has should be moved over to a high-yield savings product. That being said, many banks do offer interest checking accounts. Here it’s critical to consider fees, which are more common than on savings and money market accounts.

Finally, if you know of ther bank accounts or deals we should include in our list, please leave a comment below.

In the past, I’ve discussed whether couples should sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage. While sometimes controversial, a good prenup can protect both individuals were the marriage to result in irreconcilable differences.

Signing a legal document of this type could be helpful if the couple owns substantial assets or if the couple has a wide disparity in income or wealth. If either or both of the individuals own businesses, a prenup could protect those assets — not to mention the lives of any employees relying on those businesses.

With a growing number of adults moving in together before marriage, more people are looking for the protections of a prenuptial agreement without the benefits of getting married. A 2014 Pew Research poll found that 23 percent of adult men and 17 percent of adult women had never been married. However, about a quarter of the “never-married” crowd were currently cohabitating. This means that a good number of unmarried adults are living together without any sort of legal protection.

The Legal Risks of Cohabitation

Cohabitating may seem like a way to get some of the relational benefits of marriage without the legal risks. But, actually, it too can cause legal issues if the relationship ends. Plus, what if you cohabitate for years in a deeply committed partnership, and want to care for your significant other? Having prior legal arrangements can protect your partner, should something happen to you unexpectedly. Beyond that, many unmarried couples also have children. A prenup-like arrangement can protect those kids in the case of a breakup or death.

Related: How Should Couples Combine Finances?

For these reasons, a growing number of unmarried couples are forming legal cohabitation arrangements. These legally-binding contracts, which are drawn up by an attorney, protect each person’s assets, address child custody and support obligations, and more. In short, they cover a lot of the same territory as prenuptial agreements… even if marriage isn’t on the horizon.

What Should Be Covered?

Of course, cohabitation agreements — like prenups — should include asset protection as needed. They should also deal with issues of splitting common assets. But that’s not all these agreements should include. You should also consider:

  • Who owns what. Even if you don’t have a business or significant assets, you’re likely bringing some items into the partnership. Your agreement should speak to who owns (and owes) what coming into the arrangement.
  • Who pays what. These agreements can act, in part, as a sort of rental contract. This piece is necessary if you’re splitting expenses in a jointly-owned property. It’s even more necessary if one partner is moving into a home that the other partner owns.
  • Deed of waiver. If your partner is moving into a home you own and plans to pay rent, consider this option. It basically says that this person has no stake in your home should you break up. You can have this document drawn up separately from your cohabitation agreement, or work this into your larger agreement.
  • How things are divided. You may not want to keep a tally of who buys every dish in the cupboard while you’re living together. Avoid this by spelling out how you’ll divide property if you should split up. You can set it up so that what you bring into the relationship goes out with you. If it is purchased jointly, you can divide it up.
  • Childcare arrangements. What happens if you should have children? Will one partner stay home to care for them while the other works? Things can get tricky in this sort of situation. So, think ahead of time about how you’ll care for any children you might bring into the relationship — even if you aren’t currently planning to have any.

Learn More: Child Care Cost Analysis — Is It Worth the Expense?

  • Child support arrangements. If you should split up, who will support the children and what might custody look like? Writing these rules into your agreement can prevent a mess later.
  • Anything else you want to cover. If you’re working with a lawyer to draw up such a contract, you can customize it. Before you prepare your contract, talk about things like:
    • What happens if one partner wants to take time off work to start a business?
    • Who handles chores and maintenance tasks?
    • Should you void parts of the contract in the case of infidelity?
    • What about pets?

To Make it Legally Binding

The cost of a lawyer’s time and expertise to create a cohabitation agreement may be high. Sure, you can get templates that cover the bare bones basics online. But it’s often better to go with the lawyer. They’ll advise you and make sure that the contract doesn’t have any holes. And, of course, you’ll need to go through any processes involved with signing or notarizing the document to make it legally binding.

Don’t Forget About Your Will

Even with a cohabitation agreement, you should both have a will, as well. Cohabitation doesn’t offer the same protections for the surviving partner as marriage. Even if you want all of your assets to go to your partner, that gets tricky without a legal document saying so. Consider writing or revising your wills at the same time that you’re creating your cohabitation agreement. This will help ensure that your assets are disbursed how you want.

Learn More: 3 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents

Prenuptial agreements are important. But cohabitation agreements may be even more so. Without a legal marriage bond, you may be opening yourself up to more complicated legal situations.

Do you believe these cohabitation agreements are necessary? Would you sign one?

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If you’ve been paying attention to high yield savings rates over the past few months, you may have noticed they’re on their way up. No, not to the 4% – 5% levels we saw about a decade ago. But, slowly, interest rates are creeping in a positive direction.

SmartyPig is one of the high yield savings accounts that has always led the way with top interest rates. Keeping with that trend, they currently offer a great interest rate, making it worth considering for your new savings account.

SmartyPig High Yield Interest Rates

SmartyPig currently offers four tiers when calculating interest for its consumers, based on the average daily balance on the account. So, for example, if today you had $3,000 in your SmartyPig savings account, you would earn 0.90% APY for that day. If tomorrow, you deposited another $8,000, that day would earn 0.95% APY on the $11,000 total in the account. These tier levels are not like tax tables, either… the full balance of your account will earn the APY in the active tier.

  1. $0.01 – $2,500 — 0.85% APY
  2. $2,500.01 – $10,000 — 0.90% APY
  3. $10,000.01 – $50,000 — 0.95% APY
  4. $50,000.01+ — 1.12% APY

In today’s online savings account market, earning 0.85% – 0.95% is still good. However, some competitors can do better. For example, Ally Bank currently offers 1.05% APY on all accounts, regardless of amount deposited. For this reason, SmartyPig is geared toward savers who can keep over $50,000 in their account at all times.

SmartyPig Savings Goals

One of the features that SmartyPig has employed since the very first day it became an online bank was to allow users to create internal savings goals.

For example, if I wanted to create a $5,000 savings goal for a family vacation, I could set up recurring transfers from an external account into my SmartyPig account to track my savings progress. Or, I simply draw from my primary SmartyPig savings account into my goal account. During the saving process, I can track my progress toward my goal. Once I reach the goal, SmartyPig releases funds back into my primary savings account.

The SmartyPig Savings Goals section is largely symbolic. There are no interest rate benefits or negatives to creating goals. If you decide to scrap a goal early, SmartyPig places them back into your main account with all interest earned. The idea here is that visualizing the goal and keeping track of the amount you’ve saved goes a long way towards completing your task.

Resource: Setting Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

Opening Up a SmartyPig Account

The process to open up a SmartyPig account takes all of five minutes. You’ll need your personal information, including social security number and a cell phone, plus a few moments to complete a three-step online application.

  1. Create your login details and enter your cell phone number.
  2. Verify your cell phone number by using the 4 digit code SmartyPig will send you (the stated timeline to complete this step is 14 days before your account will be closed).
  3. Verify your identity by entering your personal information and answering four security questions.

After these steps have been completed, you’ll have your very own SmartyPig high yield savings account. The last thing to do is verify your email address, which is required after your account is active, but before you can set up any external funding source. The login dashboard for SmartyPig looks like this:

Setting Up External Transfer Accounts

In order to fund your SmartyPig account, you must set up an external funding source. SmartyPig is not a bank in and of itself. It’s simply a “product of sorts” that Sallie Mae offers. So, the only way to get money into the account is by transferring it from another account. SmartyPig and Sallie Mae are FDIC-insured for the full $250,000 per depositor. But there are currently no physical locations where you can deposit funds. Therefore, direct deposit and external transfer are your options.

After creating an account and setting up a savings goal (optional), I entered my first external funding source. After this, I went through the standard verification process where SmartyPig made two small deposits to my funding account. This process can take a few days depending on the bank you use. Once the small deposits are verified, you can deposit directly into your SmartyPig primary or goal account.

Related: How Automating Your Finances Can Save You Time and Money

How Much Can SmartyPig Earn You?

Why use SmartyPig? Well, compared to other popular high yield savings accounts, SmartyPig carries one of the best interest rates for high-balance accounts. Popular banks like Discover, American Express, Ally, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs Bank USA offer interest rates above 1% APY but below the 1.12% APY that SmartyPig offers.

Let’s run a small example of how much money a SmartyPig account can earn you on top of the others:

  • As of 5.24.2017, the interest rate at Ally Bank is 1.05%. If you were to deposit $100,000 into your Ally account today and let it accrue interest (compounded daily) at the current rate, you would have $105,393 after five years.
  • If you did the same with your SmartyPig account and it’s 1.12% interest rate, the ending balance after five years would be $105,762. This means SmartyPig will earn you an additional $369.

Admittedly, $369 spread across five years ($74 per year) is not a large amount of money when considering the initial deposit is $100,000. However, we’re all here to save money. If it’s no skin off your hide to spend fifteen minutes setting up and funding your SmartyPig account, why wouldn’t you? After all, $369 for 15 minutes’ worth of work ain’t bad!

Additional SmartyPig Benefits

When SmartyPig was initially launched around a decade ago, it focused more on spending than saving. Backed at the time by BBVA Compass, the bank offered gift cards instead of actual cash when cashing out a goal and earning interest. The benefit then was that specific cards and stores would offer a premium on their gift cards, so an account holder could earn much more than the current interest rate offered. When Sallie Mae took control of the bank last year, the account structure shifted to a more strict savings approach.

However, there is still one feature of the old bank present in SmartyPig. Every account holder has the ability to buy Amazon gift cards within their account. There is no added bonus to do so, though, and your account must be opened for 60 days before being able to purchase an Amazon gift card. So, in terms of how this plays into the SmartyPig platform, it doesn’t.  The best I can do is describe it as an oddity that I suspect will change in the near future.

Other benefits of owning a SmartyPig account are as follows:

  • Refer a Friend Bonus – Every friend you refer to SmartyPig will earn you $10 after they’ve opened an account and deposited $25 within the first 30 days. The bonus is deposited directly into your account! SmartyPig caps the number of new account referrals at 100, so you can earn up to $1,000 extra.
  • Joint or Limited Access to Goals – One of the cool things about your SmartyPig interface is that with each goal you set up, you have the ability to share that goal with family and friends. You can choose to allow them to simply view and keep track of the goal, or to have account access to the goal, where they can deposit funds via their own external funding source.

SmartyPig is a great place to park your savings if you have over $50,000 to do so. Its interface is clean. Getting set up is easy, and tracking your progress is a neat way to stay on top of your savings. If you currently have your money parked in a different online savings account and would benefit from the higher interest rate SmartyPig provides on big balances, consider making the switch.

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How Important Is It to Set Up Beneficiaries for All Your Accounts?

by Luke Landes

Wherever you are on your path towards financial independence, it’s important to think about what would happen to your financial accounts if you were unexpectedly pass away. It seems like a morbid thought, but planning for the well-being of your family is essential. Even if you don’t yet have a spouse or children, thinking ahead […]

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Is Being a Landlord the Right Move for You?

by Luke Landes

Given the option, owning assets that produce income is a much better financial strategy than owning assets that generate expenses. If you own a house or apartment for your own residence, for example, you have a lot of expenses. You will need to pay for maintenance, repairs, taxes, mortgage interest, landscaping, and utilities. Or you […]

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Financially Supporting Your Parents: 7 Steps to Take

by Luke Landes

It’s a fact: multigenerational households are becoming more common in the United States. In the ’50s, it wasn’t unusual for older adults to live with their grown children and possibly grandchildren. That living arrangement trended downward for several decades, but saw a big upswing between 2000 and 2014. In fact, in 2014, 19 percent of Americans […]

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How the New AHCA Bill Will Affect Your Healthcare

by Michael Pruser

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (or as many are calling it, “Trumpcare”) by a vote of 217 to 213. Initially, it was determined by Republican House leadership that the bill was not strong enough to pass a vote. The discussion appeared to be tabled indefinitely. However, after […]

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Will the Fed’s Rate Increase Cost You More Money?

by Abby Hayes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard whisperings of the Federal Reserve’s rate hike last month. This is only the third time since the Great Recession that the Fed has increased rates… and, well, it’s both a good thing and a bad thing. A Fed rate increase means that the economy is […]

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CiT Bank Offering Bonuses Up to $400 for New High Yield Savings Accounts

by Stephanie Colestock

Banks continue to pay bonuses to attract new customers. The latest offer comes in the form of a CIT Bank bonus of up to $400. If you’re looking for a safe place to tuck away your emergency fund or vacation savings, Everybody needs a safe place to tuck away their emergency fund or vacation savings. […]

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