My Current Bank Account Setup To Maximize Interest

Over a year and a half ago I shared how I juggled my bank accounts to maximize interest. It was the best I could do then, although it was a bit annoying as transfers between banks still took a couple of days.

banksetup.gif

My current set up now involves fewer banks, but I feel it is also both more convenient and earns higher interest. However, whether or not it would work for others depends on their geographic location.

banksetup.gif

Washington Mutual – WaMu has a strong branch presence in my area, and there are also ATMs in the grocery stores. Since they started offering their Free Checking and 5% Savings account combo (must open online; you won’t find this advertised in any branch), I have started using it as my primary account due to the combination of convenience, decent interest, and lack of fees.

I can keep a minimal amount of money in the no-fee checking account for my daily cashflow needs, and then a larger chunk can be kept in the savings account to cover the larger monthly bills paid via scheduled online BillPay transfers. If I need to write a big check or send a wire transfer, I can just move money over from the savings account. Also, I still receive a lot of checks so I like the ability to deposit them directly into my savings account. Overall, this keeps a good chunk of my money instantly accessible yet earning decent interest.

For reference, see my WaMu Free Checking + 5% Savings review and how to fund them directly with existing WaMu accounts.

28-Day Treasury Bill Ladder – Again, this may not work for others because the main draw of T-Bills is that the interest paid is exempt from state and local income taxes, which increases their equivalent yield. For those without state income taxes, they have been yielding around 5.1%-5.3% APY. However, for those that do have such taxes, the equivalent yield is significantly higher. Mine is closer to 5.8%-5.9% APY. Thus, the money I can’t see myself needing in less than 28 days (most of it) is kept here.

In addition, I can link TreasuryDirect to my WaMu savings account, so there is no interest lost during transfers. The money is invested immediately into a Treasury Bill upon withdrawal, and upon maturity the money is immediately deposited back into my savings account.

For more information, please see my entries on converting Treasury Bill auction results to equivalent bank interest rates, and how to build a T-Bill ladder.

Comments

  1. People love Presidential Bank and I don’t understand why. The bank has high minimums, and does not offer ATM rebates or postage-paid envelopes.

  2. If I lived in Maryland near a Presidential branch, I wouldn’t mind going with them. Their interest rates are consistently good, not teaser rates. A human answers the phone when I call. They recently added online transfers, but subject to relatively tight limit on how much you can transfer at a time. It just got to be too much of a hassle moving money to Prez from my local bank.

    Everyone has their own “deal-breaker” bank account features. I don’t trust deposits by mail (remnants from my eBay-selling days and a 1% mail loss rate), so I don’t care about paid deposit envelopes. ATM rebates aren’t a big deal to me – I care about ATM deposits more than ATM withdrawals.

  3. I investigated, and ultimately rejected the internet banking accounts because I could not write checks from them. I like your design however as it combines liquidity, yield, and looks fairly simple. It reminds me of a scenario I heard of on the radio recently ;-).

  4. Squeezer says:

    i like your setup. i’d probably be doing the same, except WaMu has no locations in my state.

  5. For Treasury bills, 1/4 your money is less than 28 days away if you ladder the 28 day bills into 4 equal amounts.

  6. Jonathan’s Wamu seems like a great situation because of the lack of transfer time within the same bank rather than to an outside one. Personally, living in Michigan, no WaMu’s to be found. So as an alternative, I use EverBank Freenet Checking for checking (3.41 APY) and then EverBank’s Money Market (5.01 APY, but 6.01 APY for the first three months). The MM account even has check writing (still 6 per month) and is on my ATM card. This way I can pay my mortgages, student loans, credit card and car payment out of a high yield MM account. Lastly, I have HSBC Direct hooked up to Treasury Direct (and back to EB checking). This is so I can have 6 more transfers a month out of a 5%+ account (4 for a T-bill ladder). It may add a step of complication, but it allows me to pay my large bills from the high yield and not move very much money to my checking account. EverBank’s checking has a huge amount of ATMs and reimburses fees with pre-paid postage envelopes. Its a great feeling to know that ALL of my money is earning at least some interest (unlike stupid Comerica’s 0.65% savings). Just another situation that works for me and might help someone else out!

  7. Citibank and HSBC are two other bigger banks with online savings accounts that may have an branch in people’s local area.

    I did an initial review of ING’s Electric Orange Checking. It’s very easy to open if you already have an ING Direct account. (Get your $25 bonus first if you don’t.)

    Many banks have fine print in their Terms that if you leave less than a certain amount for 30 days in the account, they’ll close it automatically. ING Direct and Emigrant Direct does this as well. I’ve found the magic keep-me-open value to be about $5, which is how much I have in both those accounts right now.

    Moving the money over was easy, as WaMu lets you set up online transfers with routing/account numbers like most internet banks. It was setting up all the new BillPays that was a bit time-consuming. I just did it as the new bills came in.

    All savings accounts are limited to 6 preauthorized withdrawals per month by law. Some banks use penalties to keep you under the 6, others just block the transfers or even close the account.

  8. I recently read that ING Direct is offering checking account with a tiered-interest rate structure.
    $0-$49,999.99 3.93% 4.00%
    $50,000.00-$99,999.99 4.94% 5.05%
    $100,000.00 or more 5.18% 5.30%

    Currently, I use WaMu with the exactly same set up as you. But this new interest-checking account from ING might be of interest for some people.

  9. I’d also recommend looking at Citibank as an alternative to WaMu depending on your location and preferences. While WaMu’s savings rate is a bit higher, Citibank gives you Thank You Network rewards for any use of the accounts…and just for having them. Just got a free Zune for doing basically nothing. Not sure if WaMu has an equivalent program.

  10. I have a similar set up to your Old Bank Setup. How hard was it to transfer everything to your new setup?

    Great site btw.

  11. Thanks to your advice, I opened up the wamu checking/savings accounts last december even though I’ve already had my primary checking with wamu since 1998. The lack of transfer time between accounts is nice, but unfortunately a $15 fee is levied if you exceed 6 or more outgoing transfers in a given month (which I found out the hard way). Still, its a great way to maximize interest as I have my paychecks direct deposited to the savings account.

  12. Geoffrey says:

    Hi,
    I recommend going with an account juggling of a Vanguard MMF, VMMXX, currently yielding 5.09%. This is both on online account, and has check-writing capability for sums over 250$. Its advantages over WAMU in my mind are.
    a. It is flexible for Vanguard, and not a strange promotion guaranteed to expire (or at least be lessened in WAMU’s case.)
    b. Its offered by a company with commitment to low fee charges, WAMU on the other hand is the opposite (as I sadly learned first-hand as a customer charged repeated their overdrawn account fee.)
    Vanguard does have the negatives of 3k min to open, 500$ min to stay solvent (maybe?), and a 10 day waiting on new deposits. But I?ve found it makes me happy, and is simple to maintain. So perhaps that?s good enough.

  13. Most places will let you choose your payment due date. I set all of mine up for the 15th and just do one large transfer from savings per month then let the auto bill payment do its thing.

  14. Jonathan,

    Nice, I can see why your new setup works better for you.

    Although I still technically have other accounts open, I basically do the same thing you’re doing, but instead I use two accounts at Presidential with Treasury Direct.

    (Presidential has more ATM’s in my area than WAMU.)

  15. You have a nice setup there.

    May I ask how do you close the Presidential bank account? I am thinking to pull out all the money and then send them a note to close the account, but they might charge me a low-balance fee. I do not like the alternative of them sending me the remaining balance (>$1000) in the snail mail.

  16. Very interesting. I love reading about this sort of stuff.

    Unfortunately, there are now WaMu’s anywhere near me, so I decided to make the switch to BoA to meet my “local banking” needs. I’ve had good experiences with ING Direct saving and checking, but I may have to take a look at your T-Bill strategy. Sounds very interesting.

  17. I have the same set up with HSBC (or rather I will once I start at Tresury Direct). No HSBC’s in my area, but I use US Bank if I need cash but keep less than $100 in there. I use HSBC free checking to pay most of my bills.

  18. I’m glad you improved your money transfer efficiency. My checking account is with Bank of America, and I still have my Emigrant Direct savings, which yields a decent return but is awfully slow with money transfers.

    Your setup is much more efficient, and time saving. The only reason I have a Bank of America account is for school purposes, but I will seek out a simple setup like yours once I graduate from college.

    Thanks for sharing your newly updated account setups!

  19. This is a pretty good setup – although I use a variation of it, as I play the BT game and need a high-interest transaction (ie. regulation D exempt, non-savings, checking or Brokerage) account to make my 10-20 monthly payments on vaious bills from, in various ammounts. My BOA MMA allows billpay and checkwriting but only 6 txns per statement (and only 3 can be checks). I also insist on a checkfree billpay system (what BOA, Fidelity, Presidential, eBank, and many others use) as it is the only one I know of that lets you tell it the day to have the payment post. This is more complex than necessary, and I have been thinking of simplifying it.

    1) Deposits into Bank of America Interest Checking via local branches and sometimes ATM’s (I avoid ATM’s for deposits when possible, though). I keep an average of less than $500 in this account, as it is used purely to deposit local checks through.
    2) Transfer to Fidelity. You can buy their MMF’s same day you initiate a transfer, but the transfer gets processed that night (and so do my BOA branch deposits, so I can buy a MMF instantly with deposited funds into BOA. I usually hold FSLXX. It will automatically sell it to cover checks, billpays, and ACH transfers (ACH is next day). There is a short hold on the funds from incomming ACH transfers, however you earn interest during these days (as you can buy the security, you just can’t withdraw the funds). Note this is NOT FDIC insured.
    3) Transfer from Fidelity (1-day) to a 4.5% or 5% checking account with Checkfree billpay. I could get rid of this as Fidelity would work fine for this, but I haven’t done so yet. I’m using eBank right now with their 5% promo, mail-in deposits, and ATM rebates. I used to use presidential and still hold an account there, but the eBank offer is much better right now.

    a) I maintain a BOA MMA on AAA rates (iMoneyNet MFR + 0.25% for balances 10k-50k, 5.12% APY right now). I keep right around $25k in there, as $25k qualifies me for free trades. This also allows me to get a large ammount of cash if I needed to locally, qualifies me for a prefered relationship (fees waived on most accounts, free checks), and makes my checks clear at close of business the day I deposit them.
    b) I have a BOAIS account that gets the free trades due to the $25k in BOA FDIC insured accounts. If for some reason I will have a large balance in my BOA checking account, I’ll do a transfer to here as its sweep account pays ~4.5% (based on treasuries, so state tax exempt, which is somewhat important to me living in MA).
    c) I sweep ~$10k through a 28-day T-bill ladder as well, through my eBank checking account.

  20. Jonathan,
    Since you had/have BofA for Bill Pay, how does it compare to WAMU? BofA Bill Pay is pretty good these days. Does WAMU have the E-Bill feature? Do they deduct funds on the payment date? I do cash flow forecasting with MS Money and move funds about once a month with ED or GMAC as necessary, so unless there is a compelling reason I don’t see an advantage to changing to WAMU or Citi to get instant transfers. A days lost interest is not that big a deal.

    What I would really like is a good sweep setup where the checking side has really good bill pay like BofA and all my money is earning higher interest all the time in the savings account portion.

  21. Since WAMU has a 6 transfer limit, if I do it weekly I would only use 4 transfers since only outbound transfers are counted toward that limit correct? Currently I don’t really transfer money out of my savings that often, I just want to make sure if i do this on a weekly basis if I will get docked with fees. Thanks!

  22. Question, can you link a money market fund to your Treasury Direct account instead of bank savings/checking? I keep most of my operating funds in Vanguard Money Market and would rather not have to move it back to Citibank eSavings to make a buy. Espescially since that would get me near my 6 outgoings per month limit.

  23. Will: As mentioned earlier, the 6 transfer limit is a law in the US and has nothing to do with WaMu. You are correct, the limit is for transfers out of your account only, deposits are not limited.
    Also, I am not sure about this, but I think the limit only applies to transfers that aren’t made in person. So transferring over the phone or from your bank’s Website will count towards the limit, but if you physically go to a branch you may make as many transfers as you like.

  24. jpsfranks says:

    i have been considering adopting the same setup for a couple of weeks, but over on fatwallet there has been some discussion about a confusing letter that was sent announcing a new tiered rate structure, apparently to take effect april 21.

    does anybody have any info on this? i’m weary of opening an account only to have the rates immediately adjusted downward.

    here’s a link to the fatwallet thread starting on the page where the tiers are first mentioned:
    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/messageview.php?catid=52&threadid=643087&start=280

  25. What I find funny is your comment about how you like the fact Wamu lets you deposit straight into your savings account and this is a benfit while clearly it is not as Wamu pays interest on a collected fund only. So you will not stat to earn interest till the bank recieves credit form the other bank for your deposit. What I do is deposit all checks into my checking account then move the money over manually into my savings account then the negitive collected balance stays in my checking account and I earn interest right away.

    So I dont understand how you think deposit straight into you savings account is a benfit. Nor why anyone would want too. Chase, BOA, Wachovia and HSBC only pay interest on collected balances. While Citi and Wells Fargo pay interest based on a average daily balance.

    In general I find you blog very usefull and helpfull but it seems today you droped the ball for the above reason. Also you switched from BOA over to Wamu which makes little to no sense either as BOA offers Affinity MMA which pay 5%+ with balances of $10K+ which beat Wamu savings accounts. And thoses funds will waive all balance requirements at BOA so you wont be subject to any fees at all. So in effect you switched to lower yeild account just so you could have no balance requirement. I know from reading you blogs for a long time you always maintain more than $10K in savings. So I dont understand you personal motivation for having a no balance requirement.

    Also Wamu been sending out notices that as of May 1st the online savings account will have tiers. You also forget to mention that part. Which was a little disappointing as normally your information is top notch and unbaised. So not sure why you all of a sudden dislike BOA.

  26. i thought b of a charged $3 for outgoing ach transfers..? did they not do that when you had your previous setup?

  27. I love Presidential checking: 4.5%. Yeah, the are some new high yield checking competitors, but Presidential checking has been around for years. I guess some people are ok with managing their checking account perfectly and keeping it near zero float, but if you make one mistake one time, you’re paying big time fees.

    Me, I like to have a float of a few thousand in my checking accout to be on the safe side. Also, I like to use Presidential to schedule my bill payment for a future date (to match the due date). That’s pretty tricky to manage a zero float with that.

    I agree that the downside is that Presidential checking is not convenient for ATM withdrawals and deposits. But that’s why I have a local credit union that I float about $200-300 for ATM usage (linked to Presidential of course).

  28. JTMurdock says:

    I’m seriously considering simplifying my banking down to something like this. Right now I have a Wachovia checking account for my daily expenses and an ING Direct savings account for my savings. I do have an electric orange account setup for my mortgage to come out of, but it seems a little silly to have it since I can just have them take the cash out of my savings account.

    What I would probably do is move everything to Citibank, since they offer the a no fee checking account with direct deposit and a savings account of that either matches (e-Savings) or exceeds (Ultimate Savings) ING direct’s. This would make things a like simpler, but I’m also wondering if I should make things that easy for me. I have a tendency to make stupid mistakes with my money if I have easy access to it.

    Great blog, btw. I abuse my LiveJournal account for this kind of tracking as well.

  29. I would do WaMu (lol) but those minimum balances make things a little bit difficult.

    ING now has Electric Orange (online checking). There are no check books, but you can send out paper checks and they do give an ATM card.

    HSBC Direct gives 5% and also give an ATM card, so those are some other options to take into consideration.

  30. HSBC also has a lot of worldwide branches, and I think you can get $ from their ATMs (if you have an account) with no additional “foreign fees”.

    Geoffrey I totally agree with you on brokerage accounts. Their money market tracks really well with interest rates (of course). I looked at money market funds vs. money market accounts and in the long run you do get more interest with the fund (if you don’t shift your money around to follow the highest teaser rate.) I did this by plotting interest rates vs. time and measured the area under the curve. Plus you can choose from a variety of funds that fit your tax needs.

  31. BofA does charge $3 for outgoing ACH transfers initiated by them. But, if you use an external party like ING Direct to “pull” money out, there is no fee.

    As I said in the review, I like BofA’s website better, and Online BillPay system better than WaMu. However, WaMu is free to transfer both in and out, and their website is fine. BillPay is Checkfree system I believe, a popular online BillPay for other banks and credit unions, including Presidential.

    I am hoping this WaMu savings account stays around for a while. It is special from their regular 0.25% savings account because (as also stated in my review)

    1. you must open it online
    2. you must open it with a new Free Checking account, and
    3. you must keep that new Free Checking account open.

    After April 21st, you must also

    4. maintain electronic statements (not paper).

    To me, they are following Citi Direct and HSBC Direct and making an “online-equivalent” account with certain restrictions. People not comfortable with the internet will not be able to access this account. Branch people are instructed to not talk about it.

    We’ll see what happens with the tiers. E-Loan has tiers but the rates are the same for all the tiers.

  32. SmBusMan says:

    My setup is very simple. I don’t spend a ton of time on it and it is extremely liquid.

    Bank Of America ING SAVINGS ING CHECKING

    money sits in ING savings until it needs to be disbursed to ING checking. I have direct deposit at BOA and money moves quickly from BOA to ING savings.

    I like this setup because i have the local convenience of BOA, tons of ATMs. If I am someplace with no BOA checking i can use the ING checking and save the fees.

    I also have a couple Wachovia accounts connected to ING Savings that pulls money out (and back in on that rare big purchase occasion).

    This all works in symphony but I have to keep a close eye so that there is enough funds in the checking accounts.

  33. I’m a little confused on the 6 limit transfer. Does withdraws from TreasuryDirect count as a withdraw within the limit of 6?

    Jonathan explained here:

    ‘Yep, the limit is basically 6 non-human withdrawals from your savings account. Key words are ?6?, ?non-human?, and ?from? savings

    ?Within any monthly statement cycle you may make up to six (6) withdrawals or transfers including, but not limited to, telephonic, computer and/or preauthorized transfers from each of your savings accounts. These withdrawals or transfers do not include in-person withdrawals or withdrawals at ATMs.?

    So?
    Unlimited checking -> savings transfers
    Unlimited ATM withdrawals from savings
    Unlimited teller withdrawals from savings
    Unlimited ATM/teller-initiated transfers from savings -> checking’

    Ann said:

    ‘ quick note about the # of monthly transfers allowed. I have been a loyal fan of Washingon Mutal for over three years now. The limit of 6 is only when you are transferring FROM your savings to checking, otherwise you can make unlimited transfers from checking to savings. Hope that will clear it up for all of you.

    I?ve never been dissapointed with this company, wonderful customer service. The reason they want you to come in to close an account is to avoid identity theft/fraud situation’

    So a withdraw using these methods would count out of the limit of 6?

    1.) savings -> checking using Online Banking (wamu.com)

    2.) BillPay (can you use BillPay via savings?)

    3.) Withdraws from TreasuryDirect

    4.) Automatic drafting from services to pay for bills (car payment, insurance payment, etc)

  34. Nony-mouse says:

    Thanks Jonathan. I opened my WAMU account.
    I must have answered one of their questions wrongly and it denied me an account in the beginning. I tried again and opened a joined account with my wife and they let me open one. Strange! I have great credit.

  35. I pay as many bills as I can with rewards credit cards and then the former MBNA (now BoA) Billpay that allows credit card to be funding source for most of my bills. Then BoA checking for local check depots, ATM and any bill’s that can’t be paid with credit cards or the MBNA billpay.

    A Fidelity for account the money market and what few checks I write, see Brian’s explaintion above. Fidelity can ACH link to many accounts and doesn’t have a limit on number of withdrawals like savings accounts. So the Fidelity account is my main piggy bank and everything it linked to it.

    Also yodlee to track all my online accounts.

  36. Is the transfer between Treasury Direct and any other banks instantaneous like WAMU? Or is that unique to WAMU?

  37. Dave the H. says:

    Rob asks: “Is the transfer between Treasury Direct and any other banks instantaneous like WAMU?”

    No, but it’s next day. I typically transfer money out of TD on a Thursday morning, and it’s in the bank account (WaMu or Chase or Emigrant) the next morning.

    Also, someone above wrote that the Emigrant transfers take a long time. Again, that’s next day for me, both into and out of Emigrant.

    Finally, the six-withdrawal limit from savings accounts is Internet or phone only. Unlimited number of withdrawals allowed at bank or ATMs.

  38. I e-mailed WaMu about their funds availability policy. Here is the response:

    Dear Jonathan:

    Thank you for your email.

    Washington Mutuals general policy is to make:

    -Cash deposits made in person are immediately available.

    -The first $5,000 of items deemed received on the same business day available on the business day the deposits are deemed received, except for deposits made at an ATM.

    Funds over $5,000 deemed received on the same business day will be available no later than the 11th business day after the day the deposit is deemed received.

    For deposits made at an ATM, the first $100 of the deposit will be immediately available. The remainder of the deposit will generally be available the next business day after the date the deposit is deemed received, unless a hold is placed. If a hold is placed, the remainder of the funds will be available no later than the 11th business day after the day the deposit is deemed received.

    -Funds are deemed received according to the following cutoff times

    NOTE: If a later cutoff time applies, the time will be posted. After the applicable cutoff time, funds are deemed received the following business day.

    -Funds from mail deposits available no later than the second business day after the business day the deposit is deemed received.

    NOTE: If a transaction is posted when there are not available funds to cover the transaction, a fee may be incurred for Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF for unpaid transactions) or overdraft (OVD for paid transactions).

    I hope this information alleviates your concern.

    Please let us know if you believe there is additional information about this situation that we should consider.

    Sincerely,

    Your WaMu Banker
    Washington Mutual Customer Service

    So it would seem like going to a teller would be a better bet than depositing at an ATM. I replied asking how interest is accrued, and will report back.

  39. Can WaMu account be downloaded directly into Quicken, from Quicken… or do I have to go to WaMu’s website and initiate a “download”.

  40. boa2presidential says:

    I am currently using BOA checking presidential checking presidential saving treasury direct.

    I can always do the pull request from presidential bank checking to BOA or just simply doing BOA billpay to presidential bank checking. If I need money from BOA, I will just write me a presidential bank check and deposite to my BOA accoutn, then ATM the money out.

    big portion of my salary direct deposite to my presidential checking, except for $100 that will direct deposite to BOA to maintain fee free BOA checking.

    As for the treasury direct, I always pull the money from presidential saving. and presidential bank bill pay is simple and easy to use for all my bill payments.

    in this case, my money can always earn 4.50% – 5.25% interest except for about $100 in my BOA account

  41. Is it really worth bothering with Treasury Direct for an extra $25 or so a month interest? Is that worth not being able to get to the money if disaster struck?

  42. Just got an email from ING, it looks like they raised their rates on the electric orange account, but I could be wrong.

    4.00% APY for balances up to $50,000.
    5.05% APY on every buck, for balances between $50,000 and $100,000.
    5.30% APY on every dollar, yes every dollar, for balances of $100,000 or more.

  43. very good post.

    I will probably research to do some T-Bill like you.

  44. Eck, tried to sign up for Treasury Direct and they give me some jazz about not being able to verify my info. So I have to get a bank to stamp my application with a signature guarantee or corporate seal. Went to Wells Fargo and they said they destroyed their signature guarantees last year. So now I’ll have to check next the rest of the banks I do business with.

    Well at least I’ve switch my primary deposit account to Vanguard Treasury where I’ll get 5.66% after factoring in my CA 9.3% tax rate.

  45. I’m glad to hear everyone else’s setups. Like I said, this won’t work for everyone, it’s just what *I* do.

    “Is the transfer between Treasury Direct and any other banks instantaneous like WAMU? Or is that unique to WAMU?”

    I should be instant to all banks. By instant I mean that there is no lost interest either way if you have TreasuryDirect automatically withdraw and deposit into your account. There is no 1-3 day “limbo” time like with some other transfers.

    The BofA AAA/MBNA MMA people mention seems to be targeted to specific groups (although open to all) and then you have to hope that they don’t screw it up. Getting the right rate sound like a huge headache, with people calling multiple numbers and going months with no interest. Finally, it has a $10k minimum to break 5% as well as a hard credit pull. Please note the “less than” signs in my initial post :)

    I don’t dislike BofA at all. If they offer a 5% APY savings account with no minimum balance and $1 to open, I’m all ears.

    As for the tiers, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Tiers could be bad or good, E-Loan added tiers but just kept the rates all the same. If WaMu is trying to compete with online banks like ING/Emigrant/HSBC (like I think they are) they better not make a huge minimum requirement.

    I don’t use Quicken, not sure about the direct connect aspects of it. Perhaps someone else can elaborate.

  46. I did a search and WaMu does “Web Connect” but not “Direct Connect”. I assume Quicken users know what the difference is, since I don’t.

  47. Dave wrote:

    Is it really worth bothering with Treasury Direct for an extra $25 or so a month interest? Is that worth not being able to get to the money if disaster struck?

    I don’t believe anyone suggesting putting all your liquid funds in TD. If you have a 4 week ladder, 1/4 of your funds ate not immediately available but not tied up for a full 28 days either.

    Also from the TD website:

    “May I sell securities from my account?
    Yes. You may sell 13-Week and 26-Week Bills, as well as Notes, Bonds, and TIPS simply by selecting a single security or multiple securities in SellDirect. Choose to sell a portion or the full amount of a security for a single transaction. Multiple sales are available with the proceeds deposited to one payment destination. The full amount of each security must be sold with multiple selections. All sales must be in increments of $1,000. Your sale requests are submitted to the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) of Chicago for processing.

    How does the FRB Chicago sell the security?
    FRB Chicago obtains price quotes from at least three government security dealers. They sell your security to the dealer with the highest price quote.

    How do I receive the money from the sale of my security?
    Your sale amount, minus the transaction fee of $45, is deposited in your selected payment destination account the day following the sale of the security.”

    So for 13 and 26 week bills there are options, but it will cost you $45.

    BTW, GMAC’s new rate is now 5.3% APY.

  48. “Is it really worth bothering with Treasury Direct for an extra $25 or so a month interest? Is that worth not being able to get to the money if disaster struck?”

    With a 28-Day T-Bill ladder, I get 25% back in 1 week, 50% in 2 weeks, 75% in 3 weeks, and everything back in less in a month if needed.

    T-Bills are as safe as FDIC-insured, both backed by the full faith of the government.

    I can’t fathom any disaster that I would need $50,000 in cash immediately. If it was a sudden medical, auto, or other bill, everybody takes credit cards now, which gives me plenty of time to get money to pay it off.

    If it was a sudden natural disaster, the main bottleneck would simply be getting actual money out of banks via ATMs or tellers with pandemonium setting in. I doubt they would even let me withdraw that much at once. ATMs have limits of $300 a day or so.

  49. anonymous says:

    With this savings/checking combo, does WaMu allow you to show up in person at a brick/mortar bank and let you withdraw directly from the savings account or shift funds around, or must everything be done online?

  50. Yes, you can do deposits/withdrawals/transfers at the B&M branch. I usually make deposits directly into my 5% savings account via branch teller.

    By making transfers or withdrawals at the branch, you also don’t use up one of your 6 withdrawals on your savings account.

  51. Jonathan:

    Have a question for you.

    I’d like to change my beneficiary on my online savings Acct. opened at EmigrantDirect.com, it stated that I have to close the acct then open a new one. Is that normal procedure on this site?

    Thanks

  52. A couple of notes for expats. I’m in Thailand and I’m using a similar setup with WaMu + Fidelity. The bulk of my investments are at Fidelity. ATMs are nearly everywhere here and there are no ATM owner fees. WaMu charges no ATM fee and a competitive 1% foreign transaction fee for withdrawals from the checking account. ATM withdrawals from savings cost $3 so I don’t do that. Fidelity charges no fee at all and gives a slightly better exchange rate from what I have observed so they are first choice.

    Note that I was using Citibank but they raised their foreign transaction fee to 3%, a completely rip, end of that bankin relationship.

  53. Just so everyone knows…

    Quicken terms:

    Web Connect = means you can download data by going to the banks website and click on some button that says Quicken Download

    Direct Connect = means you can open Quicken, and click Download for you bank, and Quicken will automatically download the data from your bank into Quicken (much easier and faster than Web Connect, especially if you have multiple banks to pull from).

    In other words, with Direct Connect, I can download my 5 citibank credit cards data, my 5 American Express credit cards data, my First Bank checking (for some reason my deposits are duplicated on download), and a few others.

    With Web Connect, I’d have to log into American Express, and choose download, then log into Citibank and choose download, and then log into …

    So, Direct Connect just basically saves some time (and you won’t have to remember all of your financial websites passwords, as they are stored in the Quicken vault).

  54. Dan Lewis says:

    Hey Jonathan,

    What would you recommend for someone with the same WaMu setup as you, but that lives in a state with no income tax? Are T-Bills still worth the hassle?

    -Dan

  55. Hi Jonathan,

    Interesting post…is there anyway to calculate what you’re actually saving by reducing the lag time and using the T-bills? And is it correct what a previous commenter said about “collected amounts” earning interest?

    Thanks!

  56. Dan – I dunno, there are online banks earning more than T-Bills now, it just depends if you are willing to open new accounts for higher rates.

    -

    Virtually ALL banks only (WaMu, Chase, BOA, Wachovia, and HSBC) in their account disclosures pay interest on “collected balances”. It makes sense right? However, collected amounts aren’t the same as available balance. The way a banker explained it to me is that it depends on your account balance and history of checks.

    If you have a bigger balance, your account has been open a while, and a history of depositing larger checks with no problems, then your deposited checks will be deemed “collected” a lot sooner. If you have a new account, a $50 balance and deposit a $10,000 check, it may take a while for them to give you credit. WaMu calls this their Check Collection Experience Factor.

    I really don’t see how that makes a difference, as either way, you have to deposit checks somewhere. I haven’t found WaMu’s policies any different from when I was across the street with BofA.

  57. I just opened a Wamu Online Savings Account linked to my old free checking without a problem.

    If I want to transfer money from my ING account over to Wamu, is there a difference between initiating from ING vs. Wamu? Which way is it better/faster?

    Thanks.

  58. Does anyone know when WaMU pays out the Interest Payments?

  59. Excellent post! I am in the process of setting up the accounts like yours. Thanks!

  60. I’m curious as to what you and others think of WaMu’s customer service (in person AND on the phone). I’m currently with Wells Fargo and some online savings accounts, and in California, where I live, WaMu has a pretty decent presence.

    WaMu’s checking and savings seem great, but I keep hearing things about service (such as phone support in other countries, etc.). I have to say, despite all the bad things people say about Wells Fargo, the customer service I’ve received has been excellent, especially on the phone and via e-mail. With the number of branches and ATMs Wells Fargo has in California, I’m finding it hard to convince myself to switch to WaMu, as I heavily value the customer service a company offers.

    Can you give some examples or just an overview of how WaMu has treated you? Also, the website is not quite up-to-par with other big banks (not necessarily the online banking, but the informative parts of the site as well). Thank you.

  61. i have a mortgage account with wellsfargo bank, can i transfer money out of it????

  62. Johnathan, I just wanted to “thank you” for taking the time to set up this blog.

    I’ve read a bit and am enjoying it tremendously~

    Being the sole person to make my decisions when it comes to my money – I find it difficult at times and I am always looking to make smart decisions to SAVE money — especially since I lent out a bunch of money and they are not repaying….

    Again, thank you so much! Sissy

  63. Hi Jonathan,
    I have the same WaMu checking and savings accounts you are talking about that were set up online. MY question is…how do I get my beneficiaries set up on those since the online application/setup didn’t ask for those?

  64. Reece Mak says:

    Can you please update this topic again? how’s your bank setup to max the interest?

  65. Hey,

    What is your current setup? This looks like pre-2008

Trackbacks

  1. Advanced Personal Finance says:

    Is doing all your financial stuff in one place good, bad, or indifferent?

    There probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t encounter mention of this or that online high yield savings account. Then I read this post by Jonathan at My Money Blog and it got me thinking about how my own finances are set up. It a…

  2. [...] going to make a change along the same lines of Jonathan’s current set-up. Washington Mutual offers 5.0% APY on savings and free checking. Unfortunately, Washington Mutual [...]

Speak Your Mind

*