Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for October 2019, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Rates are lower across the board due to the recent Fed rate cut. I track these rates because I keep a full 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to get an idea of how much extra interest you’d earn if you are moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 10/2/19.
High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks like to get away with 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I prioritize banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.
- Brio Direct is at 2.46% APY ($25 minimum to open). Redneck Bank is at 2.40% APY on up to a $50,000 (0.50% APY above that). Betterment Everyday Savings is now at 2.11% APY and linked directly to the Fed Funds Rate. There are several other established high-yield savings accounts at around 2% APY, although some have had small drops recently.
Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.
- No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus Bank has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 2.10% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 2.05% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
- Total Direct Bank has a 12-month CD at 2.50% APY ($25,000 minimum) with an early withdrawal penalty of 3 months of interest. Navy Federal Credit Union has a special 9-month CD at 2.25% APY ($1,000 minimum), but you must have a military affiliation to join (includes being a relative of a veteran). Customers Bank has 2.25% APY ($25,000 minimum) on their liquid Ascent Money Market with a rate guarantee until 6/30/2020 (almost 10 months from today).
Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are not FDIC-insured, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.
- Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 2.00% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, which has an SEC yield of 1.94%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
- Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 2.16% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 2.26% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
- The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 2.32% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 2.36% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months.
Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes.
- You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 10/1/19, a 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.79% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 1.74% annualized interest (!).
- The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 1.99% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a 1.85% SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL.
US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.
- “I Bonds” bought between May 2019 and October 2019 will earn a 1.90% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
- In mid-October 2019, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.
Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore.
- The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.
Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore, but the Orion offer is worth consideration.
- Orion FCU Premium Checking has 4.00% APY on balances up to $30,000 if you meet make $500+ in direct deposits and 8 debit card “signature” purchases each month. Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking has up to 5.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you meet make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.
- If you’re looking for a high-interest checking account without debit card transaction requirements then the rate won’t be as high, but take a look at MemoryBank at 1.15% APY.
Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.
- You could build a CD ladder at First National Bank of America at 2.70% APY for 5-year, 2.60% APY for 4-year, 2.55% APY for 3-year, 2.50% APY for 2-year, and 2.45% APY for 1-year.
- 5-year CD rates have been dropping at many banks and credit unions, following the overall interest rate curve. A good rate is now about 3% APY, with Hiway Federal Credit Union offering 3.00% APY ($25,000 min) or 2.80% APY ($500 min) on a 5-year CD with an early withdrawal penalty of 12 months of interest. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization Minnesota Recreation and Park Foundation ($10 fee).
- Navy Federal Credit Union has a special 18-month cert at 2.60% APY ($1,000 minimum) and a 5-year cert at 3.00% APY, but you must have a military affiliation to join (includes being a relative of a veteran).
- You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. The rates are not competitive right now. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.
- Willing to lock up your money for 10+ years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. As of this writing, I am seeing no inventory on 7-year and 10-year CDs. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
- How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. You could also view it as a hedge against prolonged deflation, but only if you can hold on for 20 years. As of 10/2/19, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.90%.
All rates were checked as of 10/2/19.
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Review: Luigi’s Mansion 3 [Nintendo Switch]
Luigi is back and better than ever in the newest installment in the Luigi’s Mansion Series.
This is the third game in the Luigi’s Mansion franchise, and it’s by far the best. Luigi’s Mansion 3 came out on the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite on October 31, 2019.
Players get to master new skills and equipment in this delightfully charming game. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has been wildly popular since its release, with over 5.3 million copies sold.
The game has 4.7/5 rating from GameStop, a 96% positive rating from Google Users, a 5/5 rating from Common Sense Media, and a 86% positive rating from Mediacritic. Luigi’s Mansion 3 was also voted the Best Family Game of 2019 at the Video Game Awards.
This game begins with Mario, Princess Peach, three Toads, and Luigi riding on a bus. Luigi and his merry band of friends are going to a hotel—I know, I know, a hotel is not technically a mansion, but the game is still fun anyway—, where they have been promised a luxurious stay.
Unsurprisingly, the promised vacation is not luxurious in any way. Instead, soon after Luigi and company arrive at the hotel, everyone but Luigi is captured by the ghosts of the haunted hotel. This means it’s up to Luigi to rescue his friends.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 sees the return of some iconic equipment from the previous Luigi’s Mansion games and some new equipment to spice things up.
- The Poltergust 3000 is Luigi’s main tool and only weapon. He uses it to blow and suck air, ghosts, and money.
- Dark Light Device is a special light that gets attached to the Poltergust 3000 and allows players to see hidden objects and trap ghosts.
- The Plunger is another Poltergust attachment that can be used to stick to objects to solve puzzles, unblock a path, or attack ghosts.
Faces: New And Familiar
This new game also features some familiar characters, but also some new ones. Here is a list of characters:
- Luigi—obviously—is the main character and reluctant ghost hunter extraordinaire.
- Gooigi is Luigi’s gooey, Jello-esque doppelganger. Gooigi is an indispensable character who, when he’s not stored in Luigi’s backpack, assists him with defeating ghosts and solve puzzles—as long as they don’t involve water.
- Professor E. Gadd is a zany character with some serious mad scientist vibes. He upgrades Luigi’s equipment, sells him items, and performs unauthorized experiments on him—looking at you Gooigi.
- Polterpup is Luigi’s adorable ghostly puppy sidekick/mascot.
- Hellen Gravely is one of the main antagonists and is one of the big bosses and proprietress of the haunted hotel
- King Boo is a returning enemy from previous Luigi’s Mansion. He is the big bad and is the enemy players face in the final boss battle.
Watch Luigi’s Mansion 3 Gameplay with Lisa Coronado
Watch Highlight: BLIND -Luigi’s Mansion 3! Suck it up buttercup! from ItsASmallsWorld on www.twitch.tv
The Haunted Hotel
The haunted hotel is amazing!
Next Level Games has outdone themselves with the design of this game.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is so fun because unlike its predecessor, Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, there’s always something new to see or do. There are 15 floors and two basement levels—not including the roof—and each has its own theme, which all look like something players would expect to see in a fancy haunted hotel—you know, if you visited a lot of haunted hotels. Every floor has a boss which players must beat to proceed to the next floor.
- Basement Level 2 is the boiler works
- Basement Level 1 is the maintenance level
- 1st Floor is the grand lobby
- 2nd Floor is the mezzanine themed floor
- 3rd Floor is the hotel shops
- 4th Floor is the excellent stage
- 5th Floor is the R.I.P. suites
- 6th Floor is Castle MacFrights
- 7th Floor is the garden suite
- 8th Floor is paranormal productions
- 9th Floor is the Unnatural History Museum
- 10th Floor is the tomb suites
- 11th Floor is the twisted suites
- 12th Floor is the spectral catch
- 13th Floor is the Fitness Center
- 14th Floor is the Dance Hall
- 15th Floor is the Master Suite
Some of the best things about this game were the little details. Luigi is a reluctant hero, which is what makes him such a fun protagonist. He spends the entire game afraid of everything. He trembles when he opens doors, jumps at noises, random movement, and jump scares.
When Luigi runs his head lags behind him, like he is a manic character from Tom and Jerry, it’s what makes the game so fun. It’s obvious that Luigi is scared, but with such a fun castle to explore, how can you stop playing?
Gooigi—see in the list above—is a new playable character in the Luigi’s Mansion franchise. He rests in Luigi’s backpack and is loads of fun to play. The graphics really give Gooigi depth, and when players move him around, they’ll get to see and hear how he oozes through obstacles. It is utterly fascinating.
Gooigi is capable of slipping through grates and fences, and essentially has all of the powers Luigi does—except for his weakness with water. Should players decide to play in local co-op, they can choose to play both Luigi and Gooigi simultaneously.
Another great detail in this game is how interactive it is; virtually everything players interact with is reactive. Players can bump into tables, topple chairs, blow on tubas, and break things.
A bonus is that most of those things will also give out money or prizes when players interact with them.
Combat And Puzzles
Combat is entertaining in this game, although Luigi’s Mansion 3 doesn’t feel like a combat-focused game. The Poltergust 300—once again, in the list above—is a weapon without feeling like a weapon.
It is incredible how versatile the Poltergust 3000 is, and it is really cool to consider just how in-depth the game design is to create a world where a modified vacuum with attachments is the only thing players need to succeed.
Also, smashing ghosts against the floor and walls is really fun.
Puzzles are a significant part of the gameplay as well, and they are just as dynamic as the setting and combat. Players are challenged to really think outside the box with this game.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 also offers a multi-player mode, which means eight players can gather either online or locally. This game also sees the return of ‘ScareScraper’—which is from Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon—in a co-operative mode or the option to play ‘ScreamPark’ in a team vs. co-operative team mode.
‘ScareScraper’ is a teamwork focused co-op where players must clear randomly generated floors from a high-rise. They do this by hunting ghosts and moving on once all of the ghosts on a floor are cleared.
‘ScreamPark’ pits two multi-player teams—Teams Luigi and Gooigi—against each other in three different match types. The matches are:
- Ghost Hunt: where the team who catches the most ghosts, especially tough ones, wins
- Cannon Barrage: is a game where players must obtain cannonballs, some of which are held by ghosts, and fire them at targets
- Coin Floating: teams must collect the most coins from a pool without collecting any nasty surprises that also lie within the water
Controls are the same in both single and multiplayer modes, and characters are color-coded versions of Luigi and his doppelganger.
This game is a fantastic addition to a unique series. There is very little to not like about this game. There is the occasional issue with controls, and some of the puzzles are a little difficult to decipher. These issues are overshadowed by all of the other things that make this game great.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a game with gorgeous graphics, a fun plot, and a charming protagonist. It is an excellent game for players of all ages. With an average of 15 hours of gameplay, without any treasure hunting,
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a delightful way to spend some time with our favorite scaredy-cat ghostbuster.
Azlo Review – Online Business Checking
Alzo is an online bank that focuses on simple business banking for entrepreneurs. With a huge focus on online entrepreneurs like freelancers and business, they are looking to change the way these businesses bank.
But what does that mean for you if you’re looking for a great business checking account?
Let’s dive in!
- Completely free business checking
- Integrated invoicing and payment acceptance services
- Does not offer checkbook services and cannot accept cash
Azlo Business Checking
What Is Azlo?
“Within the banking industry, small business customers usually either aren’t served at all, or they’re served as an afterthought. At Azlo, from day one, we’ve built our product just for them. For example, we don’t have minimum balances or monthly fees. This is important because if you’re a new business owner ― particularly someone who hasn’t started earning revenue yet ― your money should be put towards your business rather than fees,” Peake said in an interview with fitsmallbusiness.com.
What Do They Offer?
Azlo offers free business checking suited for simple businesses such as small businesses, contractors, and freelancers who do all of their business online.
It also has a no-fee model. Companies that need to write paper checks will want to use a different bank since Azlo doesn’t offer checkbook services. Businesses that need in-branch services and deal with cash will also not be a good fit for Azlo since none of those services are offered.
For most small businesses, Azlo can do virtually everything needed without any fees. It offers simple business checking, but for many small businesses, they don’t need anything more. Here’s what’s included with an Azlo checking account:
- No-fee checking account
- Free ATM access using Allpoint Network (55,000 ATMs)
- Invoice clients for free
- Debit card
- Bill pay, which includes option for mailing paper checks
- Connect your checking account to popular accounting software such as QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Wave.
- Accept credit card payments through Stripe, Square, or PayPal.
- Clients can send in paper checks for payment or use a bank transfer.
- Receive incoming wire transfers fee-free. Outgoing wire transfers are not available.
As you can see from the list above, Azlo is very business-oriented.
Some customers have reported that transfers with Azlo are slower than with other banks. Azlo lists that outgoing transfers can take 1-3 business days, and incoming transfers can take 4-5 business days. Mobile check deposits can take 1-6 business days to process. These processing times can certainly be a factor if you need fast processing for transfers and check deposits.
Azlo cannot send international transfers. They are working on adding this option. Although you can pull from an Azlo account using an international debit service.
We also experienced trouble trying to use the invoicing and receiving payments with credit cards on invoices.
Azlo is available in all 50 states. Azlo is not able to offer services to businesses involved in gambling, money services, privately-owned ATMs, sales of marijuana or its derivatives, precious metals, pawnshops, or cryptocurrency exchanges. It also can’t support limited partnerships or limited liability partnerships.
Azlo does have some limits on certain transactions. From their webpage these include:
- ATM withdrawals are limited to $1,000/day.
- Card purchases and over-the-counter cash withdrawals have a cumulative limit of $8,000/day and 30 unique card transactions/day.
- Transfers TO a linked account are limited to $300,000/day, and transfers FROM a linked account are limited to $100,000/day.
- Payments through bill pay are limited to $10,000/payment. Bank-to-bank (ACH) payments are limited to $300,000/day.
- Mobile check deposits are limited to $10,000/check and $20,000/month. Limit can be increased based on your Azlo account history.
Azlo has a mobile app for both the iPhone and Android. On the Apple App Store, it has a 4.3/5 rating from 258 people and 4.1/5 rating from 298 people on the Google Play Store.
Customer service is available by email and phone. You can email Azlo at email@example.com. They reply within 1 business day. Phone service is available at 844-295-6466 from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm Pacific time Monday through Friday.
Are There Any Fees?
Nope. Azlo is all-free business checking. That begs the question — how do they make money? Azlo says it makes money by earning interest on checking deposits and from customers using the Azlo debit card.
Payment serviced from Stripe, Square, and PayPal do charge processor fees, but these are separate from Azlo.
How Do I Open An Account?
Accounts are opened online at https://azlo.com.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes, Azlo uses bank-grade encryption on its website, and mobile and BBVA USA is a Member FDIC.
Is It Worth It?
It has potential, that’s for sure.
For small businesses that have simple checking needs and want to accept online payments from customers, Azlo will do everything you need.
It has integrated invoicing and the ability to accept payment from credit cards and bank transfers, providing a great infrastructure for small businesses.
However, if you’re looking for more, check out our list of the best business checking accounts here.
10 Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Make Dinner Time Easy
Are you looking for some new and delicious slow cooker recipes so you can have tasty and stress-free dinners this week?
I love making meals in a slow cooker. Dinners are so much easier when you start everything in advance! I’m less stressed, can focus on things I’d rather do, all while knowing that I have a delicious meal cooking.
So, if you’re looking for some of the best slow cooker recipes, I have 10 new recipes for you to try – that’s almost two full weeks of meal ideas!
I think you’re going to like all of these slow cooker recipes, but here are my favorites:
- Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Soup – Cauliflower, cashews, and a smoky chickpea topping. This soup is packed full of protein, and it’s vegan. This soup is creamy, rich, and the chickpea topping is roasted, which gives it a nice crunch.
- Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Soup – Chicken, black beans, fire roasted corn, lime juice, and more. You can top this hearty soup with cheese, avocado, sour cream (I like to use plain Greek yogurt), and more.
- Mozzarella Stuffed Crockpot Meatloaf – Garlic, onions, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, and more. This meatloaf even has a delicious sweet and spicy glaze on top. I honestly had no idea that you could even make meatloaf in the slow cooker until I found this recipe.
Many of these slow cooker recipes take 15 minutes or less of prep time, which means you can easily make them before you go to work in the morning. They also make great leftovers for lunch the next day.
I like to put together slow cooker recipes before we go out hiking, biking, or exploring. We’re usually very hungry when we finish, and having a slow cooker meal ready to eat means we’re never too tired to eat dinner at home.
Being too tired or too hungry to cook is probably one of the top reasons for going out to eat, but dinner out can easily cost $30-$50. That can be a lot of extra spending that you didn’t budget.
So, these slow cooker recipes will give you some delicious new ideas, make dinner time easier, and they’ll keep your food budget in check.
If you’re interested in more meal ideas, I recommend checking out the following articles for more of my favorite recipes:
- 10 Easy Freezer Meal Ideas
- 10 Easy Fall Recipes – Best Fall Dinners For Your Meal Plan
- 10 Easy Instant Pot Recipes – My New Favorite Gadget
Note: If you’re looking for easy weekly meal plans, full of budget recipes, I recommend $5 Meal Plan. $5 Meal Plan is a meal planning service that sends you a delicious meal plan and shopping list every week for just $5 a month.
Here are 10 slow cooker recipes.
1. Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Soup
2. Slow Cooker Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
3. Sweet Potato Apple Casserole
4. French Beef Stew
5. Teriyaki Chicken Quinoa And Veggies
6. Salsa Verde Chicken Soup
7. Slow Cooker Corned Beef Tacos
8. BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
9. Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
10. Mozzarella Stuffed Crockpot Meatloaf
What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?
The post 10 Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Make Dinner Time Easy appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
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