Where to Put Cash Now
Inflation is surging, and the Fed is raising rates in response. But the Fed isn’t raising them fast enough. That’s a double whammy for savers. It means not only that inflation will continue to climb but also that savers aren’t getting much return on their cash.
The average money market rate is a disgustingly low 0.08%. At that rate, you might as well bury your money in your backyard. I’m kidding, of course (sort of).
The days of earning an annualized 4% yield in your savings or money market accounts are relics as ancient as fax machines and cassettes.
You have to work harder than ever to earn any kind of yield. Here are a few ideas to help you eke out a few more dollars with your short-term funds…
Series I Savings Bonds
This is hands down my favorite short-term, ultra-safe place to put cash right now.
Series I savings bonds adjust their interest rate based on inflation. And right now, they pay a whopping 9.6% annualized rate. Their rate changes every six months.
It’s important to note that your money will be locked up for one year. You cannot take it out. After one year, you can sell anytime you want, though you’ll give up three months’ worth of interest if you sell before five years. Even with a three-month penalty, you’ll earn more than you would in any other safe investment.
Like a Treasury, it’s backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
You can buy these bonds only through TreasuryDirect, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website.
If you need access to your funds before one year, you can buy Treasury bills, also known as T-bills.
You’ll earn a 1.11% annualized rate on a four-week T-bill, a 1.52% annualized rate on an eight-week T-bill and a 1.59% annualized rate on a 13-week T-bill. You can buy them through your broker or through TreasuryDirect.
If you need even more liquidity, the highest-yielding savings account in the U.S. currently belongs to Bread Financial, whose Bread Savings high-yield savings account yields 1.65% and can be opened with as little as $100.
Tax-Free Money Market Funds
If you’re in a very high tax bracket, you may want to consider a money market fund that invests in tax-free municipal bonds. For example, the Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund (VMSXX) yields 0.82% annualized, tax-free. The price remains stable at $1, and Vanguard has extremely low fees.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Forget about CDs for now. You’ll make more on a Treasury. If your money is going to be locked up for a period of time (even a brief period), Treasurys are the way to go (unless it’s for a year, then buy Series I savings bonds).
If your investing time horizon is longer, I strongly recommend investing in Perpetual Dividend Raisers – companies that raise their dividends every year. There are plenty of stocks that yield 4% or more today, but importantly, you’ll earn more every year when these stocks raise their dividends.
But for short-term money, until the Fed meaningfully raises rates, savings rates will remain under pressure and it will be a challenge to keep up with inflation, except for with Series I savings bonds.
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