There are so many ways to beat the return of a bank savings account these days, you'd be crazy to not take advantage of them.

As I type this, the average interest rate for savings accounts at banks lingers below 0.75%, and the average rate for checking accounts that pay interest is 0.57%. At even 1% a year, a nest egg of $100,000  would only grow to $128,000 in 25 years. At that rate, it'd take about 70 years just to double your money!

Despite their current low interest rates, savings accounts are an excellent place for your short-term money. But funds that you don't expect to need for five or 10 years or more can be deployed much more effectively. Simply paying down some of your debt, for example, could net you a guaranteed 5% or even 30% return.

Hooray for reliable payouts!
Even if you're not saddled with debt, you can still top that measly bank account return with hefty dividends. Choose stocks whose payouts are healthy and growing, and you could collect 3%, or 4%, or 5% or more each year, while both your dividend payout and the stock itself expand in value over the years. If you spread your assets across a range of vibrant, robust companies, you could reduce your risk considerably.

The following large caps earned high marks from our CAPS community of investors:

Company

Dividend Yield

5-Year Avg. Annual Dividend Growth

10-Year Avg. Annual Stock Growth

Exelon (NYSE: EXC)

5.2%

7%

9%

Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO)

3.2%

11%

12%

CPFL Energia (NYSE: CPL)

7.1%

37%

30%*

Waste Management (NYSE: WM)

3.8%

9%

8%

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)

3.7%

10%

4%

Data: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance. *Five-year average.

The first three candidates above are poised to profit from the world's ever-growing demand for energy, especially as we pull out of our recent economic malaise. Exelon is a major nuclear energy specialist, Marathon Oil is a well-diversified oil and gas player, and CPFL Energia is a Brazil-based electricity concern. Waste Management, meanwhile, is an ever-growing garbage disposal and recycling enterprise. Johnson & Johnson is the best-known of the bunch, operating not only in the consumer products arena, but also in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Each of the companies above offers rising share prices and hefty dividends that have grown at a good clip. If you're intrigued, research them further to see whether they're right for your portfolio. You don't have to let your money sit and suffer in silence. The right dividend stocks can help your longer-term savings grow, even when interest rates are shrinking.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Exelon and Waste Management are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Johnson & Johnson and Waste Management are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Johnson & Johnson. The Fool owns shares of Exelon. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.