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Savings safety

Turbulent financial markets have many Americans wondering about the safety of their investments. Here's what you need to know.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' "Home Rich," now in bookstores.

NEW YORK ( -- Given all the turmoil going on in the financial markets lately, you may be wondering about your own safety nets. Is your money at risk? Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis is here with your financial checklist.

1) Take stock of your accounts

Figure out what you have in each of your accounts - including your savings accounts, checking accounts, CDs or joint accounts.

Your money will be protected up to certain FDIC limits if the bank fails.

Just this weekend there was another bank failure - Ameribank of West Virginia. That's the 12th bank failure this year.

To protect your money, make sure you're within the insurance limits. Let's take a look at some of them:

FDIC coverage limits

- Individual accounts $100,000

- Joint accounts $200,000

- Retirement accounts $250,000

You can have more money than this at one bank as long as you divide your funds up among various ownership categories.

Credit unions are also insured up to the same limits. If you have a brokerage account, you're protected in case of a bankruptcy up to half a million dollars for securities.

2) Look at your money market account

Last week the US Treasury announced it would insure the holdings of money market mutual funds. So, you don't have to worry about losing your money.

Make sure you know what your money market fund is invested in. If it has a lot of company debt, and you're feeling nervous, you may want to switch out to a money market account that invests in treasuries. That's the safest bet around.

3) Know your protection

You may have a life insurance policy, homeowners insurance or an annuity through an insurance company. Remember that even if your insurance company goes out of business, your accounts are protected by the State Guaranty funds.

For the most part, your homeowner's policy is protected up to $300,000 and annuities are protected up to $100,000. But check with your agent or your own state's guaranty fund because limits vary widely.

Are you retired or approaching retirement and worried about your economic future? Gerri Willis is looking for people willing to share their concerns about the financial crisis and how it's impacting their investments, lifestyle and/or retirement plans. If you're interested in being featured on CNN, please email us your name, contact information and a photo, along with a brief summary of your situation. To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and
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