This Is How Much Money You’re Losing by Keeping $10K in a Regular Checking Account
By: Dana George |
Oct. 13, 2023 – First published on Oct. 13, 2023
While they do exist, it’s the rare checking account that pays interest on your money. And among those rare unicorn accounts that do pay interest, it’s typically a pathetically low rate. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on how much is sitting in your checking account. Simply put, if you have a chunk of change lingering in checking, you’re missing out on a great chance for free money.For example, here are three FDIC-insured account types that make earning interest easy.High-yield savings accountsThe silver lining of rising interest rates is that banks currently pay more for the honor of keeping your money safe and warm in a high-yield savings account. For example, CIT Platinum Savings is paying a sweet 5.05% APY for balances of $5,000 or more.Let’s say you want to keep a bit of a cushion in your checking account, so you move $8,000 to CIT Platinum Savings. And for the sake of illustration, let’s assume that CIT’s high-yield savings account rate doesn’t change over the next 12 months. Rather than earn zippo in a checking account, you would earn $404 over the course of the year. That’s money in your pocket for doing nothing.You didn’t even have to take a risk. Like most savings accounts, the CIT Platinum Savings account is FDIC insured for up to $250,000, per depositor.Money market accountAnother option is to move the funds into a money market account (MMA). If you’re not familiar with MMAs, here a quick rundown:MMAs are interest-bearing deposit accounts that typically combine features of savings accounts and checking accounts.You’ll find that MMAs are a great place to stash money that you’re saving for a specific purpose, like a wedding or new car.Normally, an MMA requires a larger deposit than a standard savings account.An MMA can include checks and debit cards that allow ATM access.MMAs may limit some monthly transactions, like the number of checks you write or transfers from one account to another.MMAs are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category (that’s just a fancy way of saying your money is 100% safe as long as there’s less than $250,000 in the account).If you’re looking for an MMA that earns money while you sleep, look no further than Redneck Bank (yes, it’s an honest-to-goodness bank). The bank is currently paying an APY of 5.05% on deposits up to $100,000. And if you can stand one more cool feature of Redneck’s MMA, there’s no minimum balance required.Like the CIT Bank high-yield savings account, putting money in a Redneck Bank MMA means an $8,000 deposit will be worth $8,404 in 12 months. Again, it’s an example of putting your money to work for you.Quick note about Redneck Bank: Remember a few moments ago when I called interest-bearing checking accounts “unicorns?” Redneck Bank is one of the few financial institutions I’ve run across that pays a truly respectable rate on checking. If you were to open an account today, you would earn 5.30% on up to $15,000 in deposits. For a bank with a funny name, it sure offers a serious APY.Certificate of deposit (CD)In a nutshell, here’s how a CD works:You deposit a fixed amount of money for a fixed period of time. For example, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc.As long as you leave the money alone during that time, you earn the full promised APY on your CD account. If you withdraw money before it matures, you’ll lose a portion of the interest you would have earned.If you were to open a 12-month Western Alliance Bank CD, you could earn an APY of 5.51%. Not only is that 3.1 times higher than the national average, but it means that a $8,000 deposit would earn just shy of $441 over the course of those 12 months. Like the other accounts mentioned here, it’s FDIC insured.As someone who fights a life-long urge to keep far too much money in checking, I understand how hard it is to change the way you do things. However, as long as interest rates are high, I say we milk them for all they’re worth.
The 5 Best Kirkland Products to Buy at Costco
By: Steven Porrello |
Oct. 8, 2023 – First published on Oct. 8, 2023
Buying generic brands can save you money, but rarely can they surpass (or even replicate) the taste of the original. The exception is Costco’s Kirkland Signature products. Many of these products have amassed a cult following simply for being better in taste and lower in price than many nationally recognized brands.It’s tough to pick which Kirkland products are the best, but if I had to narrow it down, here are five Kirkland products I’m buying regularly at Costco.1. Shelled pistachiosPrice: $14.99 to $16.99I’ve always loved pistachios but could never betray my personal finances to pay exorbitant prices for such small bags. Costco, however, changed that. The Kirkland Signature Pistachios come in 24 ounce bags (1.5 pounds) and cost only $15 to $17. That’s cheaper than Kroger ($5.49 for six ounces), Safeway ($7.99 for six ounces), and Walmart ($9.98 for 12 ounces).2. Lounge pantsPrice: $16.99Fall has just arrived in my home city, Portland, and we’re already breaking out the winter clothes. This year, I bought a pair of Kirkland Signature lounge pants and they’re super comfortable. Plus, you can’t beat that price. Costco is even running a promotion online that will save you $25 if you buy five to nine qualifying clothing items and $60 if you buy 10.3. Kitchen bagsPrice: $20.49The Kirkland Signature Kitchen Bags are a staple in our household. They’re big, sturdy, and have flexible tops to wrap around trash and avoid punctures. These bags are strong enough to hold our garbage, plus cat litter when we clean the boxes.4. Adult multivitamin gummiesPrice: $16.99 for twoNot the most exciting Costco purchase you’ll ever make, but nevertheless a good value, this two-pack of multivitamins comes with 320 gummies for about $17. That’s cheaper than buying Vitafusion gummies off Amazon ($12.19 for 150 gummies) and even rivals the price on Walmart’s brand of adult gummies ($8.88 for 150).5. Variety snack packPrice: $32.99This is one of the best buys I’ve seen in awhile. For about $33, this snack pack gives you 51 single-serving pouches with snacks you’ll actually like, like granola bars, trail mix, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and blueberries. Perfect for kids’ lunches or your own snacks during the day.How to find good Kirkland productsPrepare yourself for some trial and error. Fortunately, even the worst Kirkland Signature products are still decent enough to consume (case in point: the notoriously ugly “Costco sweater” you can’t help but buy). Even better: Most are covered by Costco’s 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can bring it back for a full refund.There is one little-known way to find popular Kirkland products. You’ll need to the download the Costco shopping app, then follow these steps:Open the Costco shopping app.Click “Shop” from the bottom menu.Scroll to the bottom and click “View more categories.”Click “Explore Our Brands” from the list of categories (in my app, the categories are in alphabetical order, so just look for the “E’s”).Find Kirkland Signature from the list.Click “Shop All Kirkland Signature.”Organize the products by “Most Viewed.”This will bring up product pages that have received a large volume of traffic. When I did it recently, I saw the variety snack pack was number one, followed by toilet paper, batteries, and a stone island 12-burner gas grill (shrug). Take a look for yourself the next time you browse the Costco app and see what other Costco members are buying.
5 Ways to Turn $500 Into Passive Income
By: Chris Neiger |
Oct. 10, 2023 – First published on Oct. 10, 2023
If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of passive income, it can include any type of money you earn that doesn’t require you to be constantly working.For example, if you buy a second home and rent it out, you’re collecting passive income each month. You still need to invest time and money into getting the house on the rental market, finding a tenant, and occasionally doing repairs, but most of the time, it’s providing a constant stream of income.Your day job, on the other hand, isn’t passive at all. You have to get up every morning and work on your projects, make calls, close sales, etc. Then you get up the next day and do it all over again.Nearly one-fifth of Americans have some form of passive income, but what if you don’t have lots of money to spend on buying a second home to rent out? Fortunately, there are ways to improve your personal finances using passive income that don’t require a significant financial investment.Here are five ways you can get started building passive income with $500 or less.1. Sell digital products onlineOne way to generate passive income online is to sell digital products. For example, you could design journals, notebooks, or digital artwork and sell them on Etsy.You’ll have to spend time creating the content at the beginning, but once you have it all made, you can upload it to an online shop. Many people who sell digital products manage their business by creating new products regularly and researching lucrative niches. But once your products are online, they can generate sales on their own.If you go this route, you may need to spend some money on a subscription to design software like Adobe’s Creative Cloud ($55 per month) or even Canva ($120 annually).2. Buy stocksThis is a pretty obvious one, and it’s one of the most passive ways to generate income. Like any investment, there’s no guarantee you’ll make money from it, but the potential from buying stocks is significant.For example, let’s say you invested $500 in Microsoft five years ago, added $500 to your position each year, and reinvested any money you received from the company’s dividends. Your total contributions over the five years would be $2,500 ($500 in the first year plus $500 for the next four years), but with Microsoft’s share price gains over this time, your total investment would now be worth nearly $4,700.This is just one example; not all stocks will increase at the same pace, but the point here is that small amounts of money — even $500 invested each year — can turn into much larger sums, thanks to compounding interest. The good news is that you don’t even have to like investing or pick your own stocks to benefit. You can always invest in passive exchange-traded funds and let your money grow over time.3. Real estate investing through crowdfundingCompanies like Yieldstreet, CrowdStreet, and Fundrise allow you to invest as little as $10 into a property portfolio. These crowdfunding platforms combine the investments from a large group of investors and then put them toward buying properties. This allows the collective group of investors to purchase properties they wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase on their own.No form of investing is a guaranteed win, so do your research before putting money into a real estate crowdfunding app. You should also look into each platform’s fee structure. For example, Yieldstreet’s annual management fee is between 0% to 2.5%. The more fees and the higher the percentage companies charge, the less you’ll earn on your investment.4. Vending machinesOwning vending machines can be a relatively easy way to earn passive income. While new machines can cost thousands of dollars, I found some used vending machines on eBay for under $500 that were still in working order.You’ll have to find high-traffic locations and get permission — or rent the space — to get your machines up and running. But other than spending some time restocking and maintaining them, this can be a great passive income source.Data from Naturals2Go, a vending machine company, says that the typical machine earns about $300 monthly.5. Open a high-yield savings accountBanks are paying very high yields relative to a few years ago, which means that depositing your cash into a new account could easily earn you some nice passive income. Some of the best high-yield savings accounts offer between 4% to 5% APY right now.Some banks even offer bonuses when you set up a new account, but you’ll have to check to see if there are any requirements — such as setting up monthly automatic deposits — to get the deal. The good news is that you can likely open a new account with just $500 and start earning money immediately.You won’t get rich off of a high-yield savings account, but considering that you need a good place to store your emergency fund and other savings, it’s a no-brainer way to make some easy money.
3 Perks of Buying Tires at Costco
By: Steven Porrello |
Oct. 11, 2023 – First published on Oct. 11, 2023
No, it’s not just you. Tire prices have gone up.The average price of tires has risen 21.4% over the last two years, according to Michael Grabell from ProPublica. That would make a tire that cost $100 about $120 in today’s dollars, while a tire that cost $250 would now be $300.To make matters worse, you can’t always plan for tire expenses. While a tire purchase could justify dipping into your emergency fund, if you don’t have one you might have to charge it to a credit card and risk carrying a balance.Against this backdrop of inflation, Costco Tire might offer some relief. Its prices aren’t always the best out there, but when it’s offering promotions, you can save money and get great services. If you’re sick of tire expenses slowing down your personal finance goals, here are three perks to buying them at Costco.1. Free installationCostco recently eliminated its tire installation fees. Previously, it charged about $80 to install four tires, which is what most tire shops charge. Now, it’s free for tires purchased from Costco Tire Center. To underscore how significant this is, consider that both Sam’s Club and BJ’s charge $80 to install four tires, while Tire Discount will charge $88. If you don’t plan on installing your own tires, you could save about $80 right out the door just by buying them at Costco Tire Center.2. Tire protection and maintenanceMost tires purchased and installed at Costco come with a free five-year roadside hazard warranty (some heavy truck tires may not qualify). Under this warranty, Costco will repair tires that have been rendered unserviceable due to cuts, punctures, or other non-repairable damage. To qualify, your tires have to be above a tread depth of 1.6 mm and must be properly inflated, as well as rotated and balanced regularly.For comparison, Walmart sells a similar road-hazard warranty for $10 per tire. Discount Tires also sells a similar service, but the price is significantly higher and can swing wildly from as low as $100 to as high as $200 or more for four tires.Additionally, Costco will also give you lifetime maintenance service for each tire. This includes tire rotations, air pressure checks, rubber valve stem replacements, and balancing. It will also fill your tires with nitrogen, not regular air. This could boost your gas mileage by slowing down the rate at which your tires lose pressure. Tire shops typically charge between $3 and $10 to fill tires with nitrogen, another cost to consider when comparing Costco to competitors.3. Tire promotionsFinally, Costco frequently runs promotions on select tire brands. In the past, these promotions were often a combination of the manufacturer’s savings and a discount on Costco’s installation fee. Now that installation is free, the tire promotions have been the manufacturer’s discount only.For example, Michelin is offering $50 off to Costco members when you buy four or more Michelin tires and spend $899.99 or less. For Michelin tire purchases above $900, you’ll get $100 off — $70 from Michelin and $30 from Costco (offer is through Oct. 22, 2023).This is where buying tires at Costco can pay off. Getting $50 to $100 off could bring the price of tires well below that of other tire stores. If we then add in the other benefits — five-year roadside hazard warranty, free installation, lifetime maintenance, nitrogen — you could be getting the most value for the lowest price.One potential caveat: Manufacturer’s promotions could restrict you to a brand that may not offer the lowest price for your car. For example, if you’re replacing tires on a 2022 Toyota Camry, you could pay roughly $783 for a full set of Firestone Firehawk tires. That’s the lowest price Costco is offering for your car. The cheapest Michelin tire for a Camry is the Pilot Sport All Season 4. After the discount, you would pay $891 — $108 more.Should you buy tires from Costco?When it comes to buying tires, comparison shopping will be the key to getting the best value. To be clear, best value doesn’t mean the lowest retail price on tires. You might find a $180 tire that Costco sells for $185, but when you add in Costco’s other perks (free installation and the 5-year roadside warranty), it might offer you the best value.Still, it pays to shop around and compare Costco’s tires to other retailers, like Tire Discount and Walmart. You might not be able to stop inflation from making tires more expensive, but by being discriminating about where you buy them, you could do yourself a favor and get the best deal.
5 Kirkland Products Every Costco Member Should Try
By: Maurie Backman |
Oct. 12, 2023 – First published on Oct. 12, 2023
Okay, I’ll admit it. When I first joined Costco, I was hesitant to bring Kirkland products home because I was convinced they’d somehow be inferior in quality to the brands I was used to. How else could you explain those ultra-low prices?But I’m glad I’ve since changed my ways, because through the years, I’ve enjoyed lots of savings at Costco by loading up on Kirkland products. And these days, certain Kirkland products are staples on my weekly grocery list.If you’re not familiar with Kirkland, it’s Costco’s signature brand. You’ll find the Kirkland name on everything from baby products to baked goods to household supplies. And here are a few Kirkland products I think every Costco member should try.1. Organic quinoaQuinoa has been hailed as a supergrain that can serve as a great base or side dish for meals. We eat a lot of quinoa in my household, and I like to add it to chili and stew for extra protein.At my local supermarket, an 8.8-ounce bag of quinoa costs $3.49. So that’s $0.40 an ounce. Meanwhile, Kirkland makes a mega-bag of quinoa that costs just $10.99 online for a 4.5-pound haul. That’s only $0.15 an ounce.And also, that’s the online price. Chances are, you’ll find Kirkland-brand quinoa at an even lower price at your local warehouse club store.2. Kirkland almond butterI’m a huge fan of peanut butter. But sometimes, I like to mix things up and put almond butter on toast or apple slices instead.A 27-ounce jar of Kirkland almond butter costs $7.99 online, which is $0.30 an ounce. At my local supermarket, a 16-ounce jar is $8.49, or $0.53 an ounce.3. Praline pecansWhen I’m in the mood for something sweet, I try to offset it by adding a little protein to the mix. And Kirkland praline pecans fit the bill. They’re not overly sweet, and they can be eaten by the handful at night while watching TV or sprinkled onto a salad for a little crunch.A 2.5-pound jar of these bad boys costs $16.99 at Costco, which amounts to about $0.42 per ounce. Trader Joe’s sells yummy candied pecans, too, but a five-ounce bag will cost you $4.49, or roughly $0.90 per ounce.4. Cashew clustersKirkland makes a delicious cashew cluster that includes almonds, pumpkin seeds, and just the right amount of sugar. This is my go-to snack for a long hike because it’s packed with protein and tasty as heck. And for just $10.99 for a two-pound bag online, it’s a worthwhile investment.Now, I can’t compare the cost of these clusters to another store because frankly, I’ve never seen a comparable product outside of this Kirkland offering, which you can only find at Costco — at least at a reasonable price. You can technically buy these cashew clusters on Amazon, but the cost there is almost $25 versus $10.99 at Costco.com. And again, you’ll generally pay even less at an actual warehouse club store.5. Chocolate chipsI happen to do a lot of baking at home, especially during the holidays. And I like to load up on Kirkland chocolate chips because the price is always far more competitive than what’s available elsewhere. A 4.5-pound bag of Kirkland semi-sweet chocolate chips is only $13.99 online, or $0.20 per ounce.I’ll be honest. There’s nothing spectacular about these chocolate chips. They taste like…chocolate chips, which are a hard thing to mess up. The reason to go for the Kirkland version here really boils down to price alone.At my local supermarket, chocolate chips happen to be on sale right now. But even so, a 10-ounce bag is $3, which would have me paying $0.30 an ounce.Some of the Kirkland products you’ll find at Costco are unique items you really can’t find elsewhere. Others are simply more affordable but equally good versions of the products you’ll see in many stores. But either way, it pays to give these Kirkland products a try, especially because Costco stands behind its signature brand (and every item it sells, for that matter). So if you take a chance on a Kirkland item and it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can generally bring it back for a refund without any sort of hassle.