Digging A Hole

Dig a Hole

Do People still invest in CDs anymore? (Don’t answer that.) I know that they are the “investment” of choice for a number of folks and for banks. Let’s be honest though – Rates are TERRIBLE!! As of today, Oct. 2, 2009, according to bankrate.com, the best rate on a 12 month CD in the USA is 2.05 at India Bank.  For a 3 Year CD, the best available rate is 2.97 at Flagstar Bank.  When I called banks in the area, I actually had to keep a straight face when Diana told me about their “Special Rate” of 1.5% on a 13 month CD – only for current customers, though.  Woo-Hoo!!

CDs do appeal to those who want “safety”, which means the FDIC Guarantee. That means your money is guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (i.e. the U.S. Government) OK, I feel MUCH BETTER about THAT!!

About a year ago, as part of the new financial legislation, the FDIC raised its limit on the maximum amount guaranteed from $100,000 to $250,000. I’m not sure exactly how that helps Joe Lunchbucket, but there was quite a bit of fuss made about it last October.

Dave Ramsey has often referred to CDs as “Certificates of Depression” and with good reason. Did you know that for 11 of the past 20 years, CDs actually have a “Real Return” that is Less Than 1%? Once you consider inflation and taxes on the interest, it is really about the same as burying your savings in the backyard.  

As a retiree, wouldn’t you like to get a better return on your savings? What if you could have your nestegg generate income for you of at least 5% of the principal – and have that income paid to you for the rest of your life? Often when I meet with clients, I learn about their situation and their goals and suggest an appropriate solution which will help them with their long term savings. Clients normally can see the value, but may get hung up on time frames with CD money.  A common response may be “That sounds great.  I’ve got a CD due in a couple of months. Call me back then, and we will get back together. I can’t touch it until then.” (The Early Withdrawal Penalty looms overhead like the ‘Grim Reaper’.)

So, being a good guy (I don’t want to see anyone lose money.) I mark the date on my calendar and follow up with them as they asked me to. Except now the situation has changed. The CD was renewed. OR the due date was different from what they thought. OR the dog needs braces. OR….. Bottom Line – EVERYONE (most of all the client) LOSES.

Soooo, this being October, I called 3 leading banks in South Bend to see just how “scary” the Early Withdrawal Penalty is. At Wells Fargo , I was told that the penalty would be forfeiting 6 months of interest on a 16 month CD and 3 months of interest on a 12 month. First Source Bank had the best rate locally on a CD – 1.5% on a 13 month CD, which also came with a penalty of 6 months of interest for early withdrawal. National City Bank (soon to be PNC) told me that you could lose 1/2 of your interest for the remainder of your term or 3 months of interest, whichever is greater.

OK, lets do the math. Let’s say you have a CD of $10,000. You have about 3 months left on the term. Let’s give you the BEST rate (a whopping 1.5%) and the stiffest penalty for taking it out early (6 months interest). $10,000 x .015 x .5 (6 months is 1/2 of a year) = a loss of $75.

But what do you gain? There are only 2 types of money – liquid cash (you need it NOW) and investment savings (you need it LATER). What if you invested it into something that gave you an average return of 5% or more? $10,000 x .05 = $500 after 1 year. Last time I checked, $500 – $75 = a GAIN of $425.  And I want the best for my clients. So let’s leave the “scariness” to the little ghouls and goblins on Halloween.

Remember to invest for the long term!

You can always contact me through my website, http://www.helpmy401k.us. You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/deanvoelker My weekly Internet Radio Program is “Improving Your Financial Health” on Blog Talk Radio at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/401kcoach

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