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Hidden Assets: Boost your interest rate
Savers can now get 5%, but many are willing to let their cash languish at a pitiful 1%. Don't let that person be you.
By Carla Fried, Money Magazine

(MONEY Magazine) -- Cash is making quite a comeback, as the recent steady upshift in the federal funds rate has pushed the payout on many savings accounts from 1 percent to nearly 5 percent.

Many, but not all.

CDs & Money Market
MMA 0.23%
$10K MMA 0.25%
6 month CD 0.37%
1 yr CD 0.61%
5 yr CD 1.44%

Find personalized rates:
 

Rates provided by Bankrate.com.

If you plunked your emergency savings in any old bank account, you're probably still earning a pitiful 1 percent or so. The same is true if you have a brokerage account.

Chances are you're getting a lousy return on your sweep fund, the cash account where the dividends and interest you earn are deposited. The sweep account at Schwab recently paid 1.03 percent if your total household assets at the firm are below $100,000. E-Trade doesn't even pay 1 percent if your entire account is worth less than $100,000.

To upgrade a savings account, there's no reason to wait: there are plenty of high-yield money-market accounts and funds that can get you close to 5 percent. If you're stuck with a low-paying sweep account, your job is to make sure you empty it out frequently. Simply move the money into a better-yielding fund at the same brokerage.

The Schwab Investor Money Fund ($2,500 minimum), for instance, pays quadruple the rate of the sweep account now; at 4.5 percent, it's actually keeping up with inflation.

7 Steps to Uncover Hidden Assets:

1. Cash in old savings bonds

2. Boost your savings rate

3. Stop paying for unneeded life insurance

4. Consolidate your retirement accounts

5. Prune your credit cards

6. Unload unused gift cards

7. Finally sell that lousy investment  Top of page

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