By: Natasha Etzel |
– First published on Sept. 1, 2023
That’s $1,411.66 earned in three years, assuming the APY doesn’t change. It’s worth mentioning that APYs can change over time, so your APY likely won’t stay the same rate forever. It pays to transfer your emergency fund stash to a high-yield savings account. This one money move can be a massive win for your finances Do you have an extra $10,000 in your checking account? You may want to open a high-yield savings account. You could lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest by keeping your extra money in the wrong bank account. Don’t miss out on free money.
By: Christy Bieber |
– First published on Sept. 3, 2023
Depositing money in your savings or checking account is something you’ll probably do often over the course of your life. But it may come as a surprise that making a series of small deposits could actually cause some problems for you.You need to be aware of when and how you could possibly face legal and financial scrutiny if you make deposits in a certain pattern that trigger the attention of authorities. Here’s what you should know.Structuring can be a big problem when making bank depositsYou’re probably wondering how making deposits in your own bank account could ever be a problem. It’s simple: You could have an issue if your actions are seen as “structuring.” Here’s why.If you deposit more than $10,000 in cash in your bank account at one time, your bank is required to report this behavior and to keep a record of it. The Banking Secrecy Act of 1970 mandates that banks keep records of larger cash deposits in an effort to prevent financial crimes. Banks must file a Currency Transaction Report, even if you deposit just a penny over $10,000.Many people — especially those who may not want these reports filed — are aware of this regulation. As a result, sometimes people break up their big $10,000 deposit into several small ones so they don’t trigger the reporting requirement. This is called “structuring deposits,” and it is illegal regardless of whether the money you are depositing came from legal activity or from illegal activity.Now, this doesn’t mean it is always unlawful to deposit more than $10,000 even if you break up the deposit. This behavior becomes a crime if the purpose of breaking up the deposits was to evade the currency reporting requirements.Banks must file a suspicious activity report if they suspect structuring, which could trigger a full investigation and possibly criminal penalties.How to avoid problems with depositsThe good news is, most people are not going to be depositing $10,000 in cash in their bank accounts or savings accounts regularly — either all at once or in a series of independent transactions — so most people don’t really need to worry too much about this.And if you do have a large deposit of $10,000 or more to make, you shouldn’t really have a problem making it. The bank or financial institution has the responsibility of filing the report, and as long as the deposit is above board and you aren’t trying to evade taxes or launder money, you shouldn’t have any issues.The main thing is to avoid behaviors that could make bank officials suspicious because even if you’re innocently depositing small sums that add up to $10,000, you may trigger unwanted attention if the bank thinks you’re trying to hide something. If you have concerns, you can always talk to your bank about the best way to make sure you’re making large cash deposits in a way that won’t cause a problem.Fortunately, having to deposit large amounts of cash is generally a good problem to have. Just be sure you aren’t dividing up your bank deposits in a way that could make it look as if you have something to hide and you should be in the clear.
By: Maurie Backman |
– First published on Sept. 5, 2023
You need money in a checking account so you can pay your bills on an ongoing basis. And you need money in a savings account for emergency expenses, such as when your roof springs a leak or your car gives you trouble.But what if you pass away and there’s money left in your bank account? What happens to that money will hinge on whether you have a joint account. And if you don’t have a joint account, what happens to your money will depend on whether you have a beneficiary designated for your account.When you pass away and leave money in the bankPeople who are married commonly open joint bank accounts. And sometimes non-married family members open accounts jointly for different purposes. If you have an account with a spouse or another person, and you pass away, that account will generally become the property of that joint holder. Similarly, if you designate a beneficiary on your bank account, that person will generally be entitled to receive the money in it. This is true even if you don’t have a will, according to King Law Offices. Now, even with a designated beneficiary on your bank account, the account will still likely have to go through probate. Probate is a legal process where a deceased person’s assets are analyzed and divided up accordingly. In some cases, having a will could make it so you’re able to avoid probate. But even if not, it will be clear who the money in your bank account is supposed to be given to. When you have no surviving heirsYou may be someone who doesn’t have a spouse, children, or other relatives. If that’s the case and you pass away without having designated a beneficiary for your bank account, following the probate process, the money in that account will likely become the property of your state. But this will generally only happen if you don’t have a will or a beneficiary on your account, and you don’t have any clear beneficiaries that can be identified through the probate process.It may be that you have no family but have an old colleague you’d want to leave your money to in the event of your passing. If you want such wishes carried out, you’ll need a will. In fact, it’s a good idea to put a will in place even if you don’t have much in the way of assets. Having a will on file will make it more likely that your wishes are carried out upon your passing. And if you’re certain you want a specific person to receive the funds from your bank account after your passing, make them your account’s beneficiary.If you’re not sure how to do that, contact your bank and ask what paperwork you need to submit. Taking a little time to designate a beneficiary could make it so a person you care about gets your money after you pass, as opposed to it becoming state property.
By: Dana George |
– First published on July 25, 2023
Costco has a faithful legion of fans — otherwise known as members. There are 123 million of them, to be precise. Throughout the years, Costco has added new membership benefits, some less well-known than others. Here are four that members may not realize exist.1. RV parkingWhether you spend part of each year visiting the highways and byways of North America or you’re hoping to rent an RV for your next vacation, it’s good to know that some Costco locations allow RVs to park overnight in their lots. Free overnight parking can certainly cut down the cost of travel.Consider the convenience. You arrive near closing time, pick up all the items you’ve already burned through or forgotten to bring, and spend the night in a well-lit lot. Granted, pulling an RV into a (typically) packed Costco lot may not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but once the lot clears out, you may even hear the sound of crickets.Notice we said that some Costcos permit overnight parking for RVs. When a store does not, it’s often because local ordinances don’t allow it. However, with so many Costcos scattered across the country, you should have options.The easiest way to determine which Costcos allow overnight RV parking is to check this Costco locations finder. Once you see one near where you plan to stay, call that store and ask to speak with the manager. Once you have them on the line, ask about their overnight policy. If the store does permit overnight parking, ask for permission to stay. According to the Camper Report, Costco has rules for campers, so you may want to ask where you can get a copy of those.2. Home, auto, renters, and specialty insuranceIn the back of our minds, most of us realize that Costco offers insurance, but we’re not sure of the details. Partnering with CONNECT, powered by American Family, Costco members receive discounted rates on many of their insurance needs. Beyond the initial discount, CONNECT allows you to add more. For example, you may qualify for a safe driving, multi-policy, or student discount.And if you’re an Executive member, CONNECT sweetens the pot even more by providing you with benefits like roadside and lockout assistance.At a time when many people are unhappy with the insurance industry, 9 out of 10 members who sign up for CONNECT coverage go on to renew their policy with the insurer.3. Home and business suppliesWhile it may occur to you to pick up envelopes and printer paper at Costco, have you ever taken advantage of the low prices on items like checks, ink stamps, and address labels? Many of the supplies you need to take care of business — at home or in the office — are available for up to 50% off.Executive members enjoy an even deeper discount.4. Floral deliveryOnce you factor in delivery costs, sending a lovely bouquet of flowers to someone can cost a small fortune. That’s not the case at Costco. Costco’s online floral department offers everything from anniversary and graduation bouquets to bulk flowers. And here’s where the real savings come in: Delivery is free. The price you see listed on the site, plus tax, is the price you pay.Few things are more frustrating than typing your credit card number into a florist’s site, only to learn that delivery costs nearly doubled your purchase price.As Costco layers on new perks, keeping track of them may become even more difficult. It’s a good idea to check periodically to see if there are any you’re not taking full advantage of.
By: Emma Newbery |
– First published on Aug. 7, 2023
Are SNAP benefits enough?A monthly payment of $973 for a household of four equates to around $8 per person per day. While SNAP benefits aren’t designed to cover everything, it isn’t easy to feed a family on around $2.66 per person per meal. Indeed, research from the Urban Institute showed that the maximum benefits often don’t cover a family’s food costs. “Amid inflation, SNAP benefits did not cover the cost of a meal in 99 percent of counties in 2022,” said the report.The new benefit amount — a monthly increase of $34 for a household of four — is roughly in line with cost-of-living increases measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Its latest Consumer Price Index figures show that the cost of all items in June, 2023 was up 3% over the year before. However, inflation does not impact all aspects of life equally.The BLS data also shows that food at home increased by 5.7% year over year. The new SNAP benefits do not match this. Hypothetically, a 5.7% increase in benefits for a family of four would mean a new monthly payment of $992, rather than the planned $973.In addition, this year brought the end of the pandemic-era emergency food benefits throughout the country. According to CBPP calculations, this meant the average person received about $90 a month less in SNAP benefits. Even factoring in the increased SNAP benefit amount, many households have seen a significant drop in their food benefit amount, and the revised 2024 payments will do little to close this gap.How to make your SNAP benefits go furtherIt can take time and energy to provide healthy food for your family on a strict budget. The challenge is that in a busy household, time and energy are also limited resources. Even so, if you can carve out some time to plan your grocery-shopping trip, it can make a big difference.Here are some ways you might stretch your SNAP benefits a little:Use cash back apps and coupons: Look for cash back apps that work in stores that take your EBT card. You’ll usually need to download an app and then scan your receipt after you’ve been to the store. Pay attention to coupons, whether in store or online as these can often carry hefty discounts.Always shop with a list: Planning your food shopping is one of the best ways to reduce costs. Even more so if you use a cash back app or coupons. Check what offers are available on items you normally buy before you go shopping. Mark the items that qualify for rewards or discounts on your list, so you don’t miss them when you’re shopping.Look for double up programs: There are Double Up Food Bucks or other programs in various states that essentially give you two for one on all produce at participating farmers markets and stores. It’s a great way to get more fruit and vegetables for your SNAP dollars.Buy in bulk and batch cook: It isn’t always easy to find the extra cash for bulk buying when you’re eking out every cent. However, if you can manage it, you may be able to save both money and time. You might, for example, batch cook a stew and freeze portions for future meals.Unfortunately, food insecurity still impacts many American households. If you don’t have enough money to feed your family this month, look for additional help. Find out what food pantries and soup kitchens are operating in your area on which days, and whether you’ll need to present any documents. Call United Way at 211 for information about assistance programs in your area.