Online savings accounts offer some of the highest-yielding interest rates for consumers, but if you’re part of the millennial generation, chances are that you’re not taking advantage of them. Survey after survey tells us that millennials are risk averse to investing. It’s no wonder why. Many millennials grew up in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and are already weighed down by huge debt right after graduating from college.
A recent UBS Investor Watch report found that millennials are the most fiscally conservative generation since the Great Depression. About a third of the 4,165 investors surveyed describe their risk tolerance as conservative or somewhat conservative while millennials’ average asset allocation is extremely conservative. A peek inside the average millennial portfolio shows 52 percent is dedicated to cash compared to 23 percent for other investors.
“Millennials seem to be permanently-scarred by the 2008 financial crisis,” said Emily Pachuta, head of investor insights at UBS Wealth Management Americas. “They have a Depression-era mindset largely because they experienced market volatility and job security issues very early in their careers, or watched their parents experience them, and it has had a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors.”
One of those millennials is 31-year-old Marie Alcid, a university curriculum planner from Oakland, Calif. Alcid said she believes the recession has driven millennials to want to save more money than previous generations.
“I guess you could say [we’re] afraid,” said Alcid, whose father was laid off during the recession. “Plus, I would assume most millennials have very minimal knowledge of investing.”
Alcid says she is focused on saving for retirement and paying down her student loans for now. While saving for retirement and getting rid of student debt are both worthwhile goals, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of maximizing your savings. That’s something opening an online savings account would do.
“I already have a saving accounts with my bank,” said Alcid. “I haven’t thought about opening one online. I just did what was most convenient.”
That complacency is a feeling shared by many other people in her generation. Saving isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when it comes to maximizing those savings, many millennials are in the dark. Forget investing in the stock market (for now), if you haven’t already moved the money you’re saving into a high-yield online savings account, you’re behind. Why, pray tell, have you decided not to park your money in an online savings account? Because you don’t like to save money — or because one of these reasons?
I want to save my cash.
Don’t we all. Millennials are the most risk averse group. It’s one thing to not want to save if you’re broke or saddled with high student debt. It’s another to just hold on to cash out of fear. Expert after expert has stated the importance of saving for retirement, so we won’t even address that issue. All young people should be focused on saving — even with student loan bills piling up. And one of the easiest ways you can save is by parking your money in an online savings account.
Surveys show that online banks offer the highest interest on savings. Why would you save your money in a brick-and-mortar bank’s savings account at a lower interest rate rather than maximizing your savings with an online savings account? You understand that the money you leave in your savings account will yield you money, don’t you? So park your money in the account that will yield you more. An average interest rate for a savings account might be around 0.18 percent, but an online bank might offer interest rates at 0.85 or 0.95 percent. In fact, online banks are known for having higher interest rates on certificates of deposit and savings accounts
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I don’t trust online transactions.
Does that mean you don’t use online banking ever? Do you also avoid using Wi-Fi in public places? Never log onto your bank’s mobile app? Do you refuse to log onto your social media networks in public, too? Yes, hacking does occur obviously. But as with everything in life, you just need to take the proper precautions to protect your own data. Shred documents.
Go through your bank and credit card statements line by line. Better yet, check it every day. Install antivirus apps and software. Maintain and install the latest updates for these apps and software. Change your online banking passwords several times a year. Don’t create an easy-to-guess password like password123. As long as you remember to do your part, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to online banking and savings accounts. Everything else is out of your control. By the way, you do understand that your data is also vulnerable at a traditional bank, don’t you? Your information is stored in some big data center if you bank at Chase or Citigroup or any other bank, too.
I am worried about glitches.
If you worry about every little thing that can happen, you’re constantly going to have a frown on your face. As long as the online bank you choose is legitimate — meaning the bank’s website isn’t fraudulent and it’s listed on the site that your deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — your money will be safe (the FDIC covers you for up to $250,000 of losses).
If you’re not certain about the status of the online bank, use the FDIC’s BankFind to ensure that your bank is listed and legitimate. If the bank’s website is down, tough it out. Glitches and trouble accessing your bank’s app or website isn’t just exclusive to online banks. These delays and glitches happen to apps and websites for brick-and-mortar banks, too.
I want to bank at a brick-and-mortar institution.
Well, this is perhaps one of the more legitimate concerns you might have. If you prefer to work with real people and have a bank you can actually walk into, then there’s almost nothing that online banking can do to compete. However, carefully weigh the pros and cons of online banking. If your goal is to save, online banks will provide higher interest rates for your savings compared to brick-and-mortar banks.
Plus, it can be incredibly convenient to have all your needs taken care of without wasting time and gas to go to a brick-and-mortar bank, where a customer service representative might try to push unwanted banking products. Most online banks offer customer service via chat or email and phone lines, so you can still talk to someone if you need that human interaction. In the end, as you weigh your options, you might find that the benefits you gain from online banking still outweigh the negatives.
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I am not good with technology.
OK. You’ve got us. Online banking means you’ve got to be comfortable using a computer and need to understand how to keep your Internet secure. If you’re uncomfortable doing those things, definitely stick to a traditional bank. Just understand that you will be missing out on some great bonuses of online banks, like higher interest rates, lower fees, lower balance requirements, and cool technology features that might not be available at other banks.
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