5 times to consider putting your savings in a CD for at least a year

Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/GettyCDs can be a good place to store money for a future home renovation.
  • A CD (certificate of deposit) is a like a locked piggy bank that pays a consistent return.
  • If you have savings that you know you’re not going to spend until a future date, a CD is a good alternative to a high-yield savings account.
  • Generally, the longer you keep your money in a CD, the higher the interest rate. The best one-year CDs currently earn around 2% APY, so any term shorter than a year probably isn’t worth tying up your money.
  • Money set aside for a down payment, a home renovation fund, and cash for next year’s holiday purchases are a few good uses for a CD.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Since interest rates are down compared to last year – and likely to remain unchanged or fall even further in 2020 – it’s a good time to be strategic about where you save money.

A certificate of deposit (CD) can offer good earning potential without any of the risk of a stock market investment or the variable interest rates of a high-yield savings account.

When you open a CD, you agree to lock your money up for a specific period of time – usually anywhere from three months to five years – in exchange for a fixed annual percentage yield (APY). You typically can’t access your cash until the CD’s maturity date without incurring a penalty, which makes it a good place to safely grow money that you need at a certain date and not before then. It can also help curb impulse spending.

Currently, the best CDs are offering between 2% and 2.25% APY for varying minimum deposits and terms between 12 months and five years. Generally, the longer the term length, the higher the rate. Any term shorter than a year probably isn’t worth it right now, since the rates are comparable to the best high-yield savings accounts.

You can’t add money to a CD after the initial funding period (usually between 10 and 14 days), so it’s not the right type of account for actively saving money. But if you already have cash set aside for a future purchase, a CD is worth considering. Here are five times to open a CD for your savings:

1. You’re waiting to buy a house

Saving for a down payment can take years. But just because you finally reach your savings goal doesn’t mean you have to buy a house right away. Maybe mortgage rates aren’t where you’d like them to be or you just haven’t found a place you love yet. If you’ve decided to wait at least a year to buy a house, a CD can keep your down payment safe and earning a consistent return in the meantime.

2. You’re planning a home renovation

If there’s a home improvement project on your to-do list next year, but you already have the cash, consider opening a CD to earmark the savings. As long as the renovation isn’t something that needs attention right away (think: a big leak or a damaged roof), then you can lock in a high interest rate now to earn more on your money while you iron out the details of the project – and actually find the time to do it.

3. You spend a lot during the holidays

The end-of-year holidays seem to get more expensive every year. Make it easier for your future self by setting aside a cash reserve now that you can use next year for shopping, booking travel, and buying gifts. Once your CD matures, you can use the cash to put toward your holiday purchases if the timing is right or replenish the fund you pulled from.

4. You have big travel plans

If you’re actively saving for a travel fund, a high-yield savings account is the way to go. But, if you’ve already reached your goal, or even part of it, and want to make sure the money stays safe until you’re ready to jet off, try a CD. You won’t be able to dip into the account for impulse spending and you’ll wind up with even more money than you started with thanks to above average interest rates.

5. You’re preparing for a move

Between packing supplies, movers, and buying new stuff, moving can run up a lengthy tab. But setting up a moving fund? That’s something many of us plan to do, but never quite get around to.

If you know you’ll be moving in the future, whether to a new state or just a new neighbourhood, consider setting aside some extra cash in a CD so you can be sure there’s no scrambling for money when the time comes. It doesn’t need to be a ton of cash – some of the best CDs require $US0 to open – but you’ll need to add something to start earning a return.

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